No one wants to watch a movie in which the director yells "Lights,
CameraMultiple Choice Question" We are more excited with movies
directed with the words "Lights, Camera, Action."
Multiple choice questions don't reflect reality. In real-life we
are seldom confronted with a multiple choice question, we are
confronted with problems, decisions, and the need to be innovative.
Not the need to choose the best answer out of four choices.
Action is what we want, it is what motivates humans. Kids can't sit
still, they need to move. We want to watch sports with activity and
movement. Our jobs demand active thinking, complex decision making,
and activity. Why should our learning design be inactive? Why
should our online courses start with something as boring and
pedantic as a learning objective? Why do we commonly
create instruction with the page-of-text, page-of-text,
page-of-text, multiple-choice-question format?
For the month of January as the New Year kicks off, I want learning
and development professionals to think about action, activity, and
innovation. I want us to make a conscious effort to force learners
to do something. ..anything to get them mentally or even physically
moving. Challenge your learners to interact with the e-learning and
classroom instruction that you create.
Here are three tips to help you get started; some are borrowed from
the field of video games which is an awesome place to look for
inspiration for learning and development professionals.
A term I like to use (while some others don't) is gamification. We
need to add gamification to our learning - more about that in a
So here is the list:
Start your learning with a challenge instead of a list of
objectives or a lecture. Rather than state, "there are
three things you should know about fraudulent claims" - start the
training with, the statement "A potentially fraudulent claim has
just been filed, you have 20 screens and 30 minutes to learn what
to do. Proceed with caution." As the challenge unfolds and you
provide information to the learner, you should be providing more
and more learning opportunities, introduce the fraud detection
worksheet. Incorporate policy points into the feedback
you provide the learner, add in exceptions. Too many courses are
too easy. Yes, I said ittoo easy. Humans don't like or respect
tasks that are too easy. Yet too many learning courses are built to
the lowest common denominator. Create courses that challenger
learners, they'll learn more, remember more and, as a result, be
able to do more.
Create training where more than one answer is possible, feasible,
and acceptable. Rarely in life are answers cut and dried. There are
typically shades of gray that must be dealt with and reconciled.
In most e-learning, there are absolutely right and
absolutely wrong answers. How does that prepare a
learner for what she will encounter on the job? Present a situation
where the customer is half-right and half-wrongwhat do you do? Or
an ethical situation which is filled with gray. Training needs to
be more nuanced than its current form. Provide alternative endings,
provide different levels of "correct" don't keep giving one right
Force the learners to perform the activity they are learning about.
Make them enter a customer order, make them calm down an irate
customer, make them close out an account. Make them operate the
machinery. If you want someone to learn to do something, they must
practice doing it! We can't tell them about being a good leader and
then hope they'll be a good leader, they have to practice being a
good leader, or sales person or accountant. Practice is needed to
improve performance. Athletes don't just read about competition,
they practice, work on fundamentals, play scrimmages, and then
perform. In training situations, the learner reads about
negotiation skills, takes a multiple choice test about negotiation
skills, and then is asked to go negotiate with a
customer. That's it--no practice, no scrimmage.
Immediately they go to the real thing. This is not good.
So, as the New Year starts, think about what you, as a learning and
development professional, can do to engage the people for whom you
are building instruction. Don't passively hand them content,
instead make them do something in 2012. Your action
item from this post is to create at least one challenge or action
oriented activities for your learners in the next 3 months.