Learning context, realistic challenges, and situational consequences

We as eLearning professionals, instructional designers, and trainer have to move away from the information overload in our courses. I recently read 3 Friendly Tips to Save Your Learners from Information Overload by by Carrie Zens, director of marketing | @carriezens at Allen Interactions.  Zens asserts that our learning must “grab learners’ attention with a relevant context, realistic challenges, and situational consequences are most likely to leave a lasting and memorable impression on an audience.”   In order for instructional designers to do this, how and when do we create these contexts, challenges, and consequences in our eLearning?  Where do they come from and when will we know they are right?

This article has made me question, and thus, write, this blog post.  My core question is how does an instructional designer delve this deep into the learning context, realistic challenges, and situational consequences that Zens suggests we must have when it comes to technical training?

To answer this question, I began reading another book today, called Technical Training Basics by Sarah Wakefield, and think I am on the road to my answer.  In Chapter 2, a story highlights a typical problem associated with developing technical training where Wakefield highlights problems associated with course creation.  Clearly defined audiences as well as learning objectives rest at the foundation of discovering and creating learning context, realistic challenges, and situational consequences.  Wakefield also asserts that the subject matter expert that is part of the course design should know not only the knowledge, and skills, but also the business or job processes that result from one or more of the learning objectives.  It seems the answer to this question is highly dependent upon both the kickoff meeting, well defined learning objectives, a solid target audience, and finally, having a shared vision between the course developer and the SME.  When an SME does not know what the business/job process is, or even some of the related technical information, it is important that more people are included in an initial meeting and are part of subsequent meetings and design decisions to ensure they are getting at the right learning context.

I highly recommend reading this book.  I will be posting summaries of each chapter as I continue to read it.  Anyone designing technical training, this is a must read.  By the end, I will come full circle with how, precisely, an instructional designer or trainer developing eLearning might arrive to a realistic learning context, highly interactive and realistic challenges, and then situational consequences.

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