Information vs. Experience

In today’s world, information is everywhere.  People with enough determination can find out pretty much anything they want to know.  The problem with most e-learning developers is that they are still focusing on the information. How to order it, how to package it, how to deliver it.  These considerations are very important, of course, but most learners these days aren’t going to be excited by (IDT codespeak: “intrinsically motivated by”) more information.

What learners will be excited by is better experiences.  By “experiences” I don’t mean flashing lights and fancy effects (though those are fun).  A superior learning experience is comprised of simple — yet surprisingly difficult — factors, such as social interactions, mood, relevance, convenience, and a host of other factors.   An experience is like an ecosystem, with complicated paths of inputs, outputs, contingencies, needs, and considerations.  Poor experiences tend to be the shallowest kinds of courses, in which factors A through Y are ignored in favor solely of factor Z.  Quality experiences, though, involve the learner in multiple ways and provide for more needs than just information delivery. Hope for a deeper experience is why most learners today still express a preference for face-to-face courses over online courses.  But it does not have to be this way.

As an instructional designer, I’m not happy unless I feel confident that my learners will have an engaging, deep, meaningful experience after I publish my course.  Not just another information dump.

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