To engage learners, make it fun!

One of the hardest things we teach our clients is that just because we are instructional designers, doesn't mean we're bound to deliver training within the confines of a "course". While many of us were trained to use all of the tools available to us that came with our instructional designers toolbox (job aids, wikis, video clips, etc.), clients assume everything we write for them will be in a course format. 

Even before the current trend to gamify learning became mainstream, every instructional model that I know of preaches that you must gain your learners attention- and then keep it. In other words, build boring training and your learners will check out even before finishing to read the bulleted list of 48 objectives for your course. 

Technology is making it easier and easier to deliver learning and instruction in more ways than ever before. Take something as exciting as copyright law. Pun intended. I know what you're thinking, sounds about as fun as passing a kidney stone, yet Duke University took on the challenge of teaching this topic in a fun and unique way and they ought to be recognized for doing so. 

The University developed a comic book which translates copyright law into an exciting and visual story, complete with a heroine who has to navigate IP law. I highly recommend you all click here and download a copy of this comic book as a sample of how to teach boring topic in a new and more interesting way. 

How can you use this example in your work? Very easily, think of all of the training courses or programs that you are tasked with developing. Think of all that exciting sales and compliance training courses, or how about information security. Rather than jumping into PowerPoint or Captivate with your favorite template, can you instead write a story demonstrating the use of the concepts you have to teach and then leverage a graphic designer- maybe one board out of his or her wits in your marketing or PR department, and have them animate your story.

Stop flexing your course building muscles, and build up your storytelling brain cells by leveraging a non-traditional delivery format. You'll find you may achieve a greater level of engagement in the material from your learners, and you may actually enjoy the process of constructing something like what Duke University has done here.

Alex is a co-founder and Managing Member of Collabor8 Learning, LLC, an instructional design and performance management consultancy. His firm collaborates with organizations to enhance the way they develop and train their employees and/ or customers. To learn more about Collabor8 Learning, click here.

Alex can be reached at 786-512-1069, or via Twitter@collabor8alex.