Home > Freelancers, General eLearning Design, Instructional Design - General, Instructional Designers > Does that software feature really MAXIMISE learning?

Does that software feature really MAXIMISE learning?

What do IDs do to REDUCE learning effectiveness?

It is said that the brain cannot tell the difference between something that is real and something that is vividly imagined.

So do we always take advantage of this fact when we are creating eLearning courses?

Using my eLearning weapon of choice, Articulate Storyline, “lifelike business scenarios” are very simple to build.

We could have two “people” images in (for example) an HR situation or situations, and the learner makes attempts through a series of questions to go down the correct route, learning about her/his mistakes and successes of judgement as the story unfolds. Storyline offers a massive set of posed photographic characters to facilitate this.

Something that has always niggled me is that the “story” still takes place “on the screen”. Good enough for “eLearning” perhaps – but is this enough to take the learner into the realms of imagination, the closest thing to “real” that the brain can get?

Granted, learners may read or even sub-vocalise (mutter the words quickly and almost silently to themselves…) if there is not voiceover. If there is a voiceover, they may read and hear the words on the screen that one character is saying, perhaps even listen intently. But is this enough? What could we do to bring this all closer into imagination, to try and create that connection within the brain that makes the whole thing “real”?

One technique I have used on occasions is for the voiceover to say “Imagine yourself in this situation…no really….close your eyes now, listen to what I am saying, and imagine yourself in this situation.” OK – so it’s a little unusual, but so what? What is wrong in having your learner close their eyes and listen to a scenario? After all – it is just a short story, and we often close our eyes and imagine when being read to as children. It is a very natural technique.

Another thing that I feel uncomfortable with is asking people to take part in a scenario where one of the visual/on-screen characters is meant to represent them, and in 99.9999% of cases it will not even be close.  I love Articulate Storyline’s built-in photographic characters, however, perhaps using 2 of them in a 2-person “…you are one of the people” scenario is not the way to go?

Perhaps this puts up a barrier rather than assisting the reality, despite normal eLearning design techniques and convention?

If you are going to set up a scenario – could it actually be more real to use a silhouette or a “cut-out” representation of a person rather than an attempt to be “real” with a photo character or illustration? For this to make sense you need to ask some sort of “Choose your Character” question at the start, and then have an appropriate character silhouette appearing on the screen (which can be done easily with branching).

If we are going to use the “2-character visual scenario”, if we ask the learner to imagine “2 people” (neither of whom are the learner…), then surely we are saying “this is not 100% relevant to YOU”, which should be our aim?

Perhaps asking the learner to recite, aloud, what is in the speech-bubble that it being “said” by the on-screen character, would make it more real from the perspective of their brain?

I am no expert on this subject, but I’ve read enough that I am now intrigued enough to at least question received wisdom. I do not know how to appeal to the imagination and immerse the brain in the most optimum way, however, I think we should all consider, when we build courses, what tools we are using that are aimed at the “

I do not know how to appeal to the imagination best, but I think we should all consider, when we build courses, what tools we are using that are aimed at the “imagination muscles” rather than just assuming the course is “real” to them.

Perhaps even the best-intentioned Scenarios could include other more creative elements than those offered to us “out-of the-box”, in order to achieve the most effective learning.

Join more of this discussion at the E-Learning Heroes website

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