How My Big Mouth Reminded Me of the Importance of Scenarios in Learning Design

Three times over the last few weeks I've had a work problem. Well, we're supposed to call them challenges rather than problems, aren't we?

But either way, I've come across a 'challenge' that I've needed to overcome.

I won't go into detail about what they were, in fact, I'd be scuppered if you asked me to list them. But I realised after I had solved the third of these problems, that it had been the third of three similar issues that I had recently faced and subsequently solved, in a very short space of time. 

And do you know how I managed to solve them? Deep thought? Logical thinking? Half an hour of googling?

No, I actually asked someone for their advice.

Simple right?

Well, not as simple as it may appear. Because it just so happened that each time, it wasn't the person that I was speaking to that had provided the solution. No. As I was explaining the situation out loud to the poor person who had kindly volunteered to listen, I found that I had inadvertently stumbled across the solution before I had even finished speaking.

The realisation dawning upon me, like the sun coming out from behind a big, black, South-West London cloud.

Thankfully, all of these people are familiar with my propensity to waffle and weren't at all dismayed that they had just wasted 5, 7 and 12 minutes of their lives, respectively, to listen to my inane chatter (much like you, if you've made it this far through my blog post).

Only to be informed that I had come up with the solution before they had managed to get a word in edge ways.

In fact, they may not have been listening at all, just nodding and smiling at the correct moments. 

Probably thinking about cake.

But so what? Well, I made a note on the third occasion to blog about this - because it's such a valuable lesson for me to remember as an Instructional Designer.

When we face a problem or 'challenge', we often know the answer. The real challenge is that we don't know that we know! We just haven't worked through the problem, in a thorough, methodical way. 

And this translates so powerfully into learning design. We often read or talk about putting learners into scenarios during an eLearning course, but it is easy to forget why we do this.

This experience helped remind me of the importance of the scenario - or another way of thinking about it is the 'push vs pull' style of learning.

Rather than someone telling me a solution, I am working it through myself - which gives me a much better learning experience. 

Our job as learning designers is to create the correct environment for the learner to achieve this.

If you enjoyed reading this article, you're going to love my free 5-day email crash course - 5 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Starting an eLearning Project.

Ant Pugh

108A Tooting Bec Road, 108A Tooting Bec Road