Home > Similarities between Course Design and Magic (!) > The Magic of Instructional Design – Thought #6: Outside the Box

The Magic of Instructional Design – Thought #6: Outside the Box

Looking for inspiration “Outside the Box” can make a huge difference to your outcome.

There is a wonderful book by Annette Moser-Wellman called “The 5 Faces of Genius”, (http://www.fivefacesofgenius.com/). “The Alchemist” face gets their creative genius by linking together ideas from completely differently areas of human endeavour. One example of this would be this post – linking the worlds of eLearning and close-up magic. Both eLearning and close-up magic can, in my opinion, benefit enormously from this technique.

In close-up magic, there is a pocket-sized prop, usually made of brass, called an “Okito Box”. Often, people who perform Okito routines just tell people what they are doing – “So…I’ll put the coin in here, then we put the lid on, and then I’ll throw it over to this hand blah blah”.

In my “in the hands” routine, I talk about specific events in the life of Harry Houdini, an escapologist that most people have heard of. In contrast – a small brass box with coins in it and a lid is somewhat alien. By linking these two differing worlds together, people can actually understand the trick better. It is no longer a small box with a lid and some coins in it – it becomes a demonstration of a man escaping from silver handcuffs and a raised prison cell. By linking the two I have provided a situation they can empathize with – they can understand it more – it is now much more believable, personal, and memorable.

Here are some reasonable course creation guidelines for Instructional Designers…

Master Your Craft, Communicate Your Humanity, Capture the Excitement, Control Every Moment, Eliminate Weak Spots and Build to a Climax.

These are excellent guidelines for the creation of powerful classroom presentations and eLearning, but you will not find them in any “training” book. They are from Ken Weber, and you find them in “Maximum Entertainment – Director’s Notes for Magicians and Mentalists” (Ken Weber Productions – 2003).

This pretty much illustrates my point. Do not just look at “learning” literature in order to learn how to transfer knowledge between people – what we do is sometimes more akin to acting, to stagecraft, so have a good delve into that genre for ideas. You can often find exactly the example you are looking for in another place. Unexpected places often bring clearer thinking.

Above all, when you are summarizing a point, or trying to convey an example, try using words, or graphics from another discipline. You can often find a powerful way to get your point over.

Do not just be a “training expert”, be an expert in ways to train.

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