Instructional designers often fall into a trap attempting to add value to a learning experience by making it engaging. As I mentioned in the LMC Patterns and Models blog, the two basic functions of L&D are Information Dissemination and Skills Development. Knowing the difference between the two can bring some clarity to the issue.
Information Dissemination is primarily used when distributing critical information in short time frames, and is found in models like Performance Support or Mass Distribution. Non-time-sensitive information or "good things to know" (sometimes called just-in-case learning) such as you would include in on-boarding or continuing education, is still just information. Deliver it as such and don't try to make engaging.
But don't let me scare you away from interactivity and engagement, they just need to be deployed in the right situation: Skills Development is where they are critical. Practice and repetition are the way people master skills. In the Innovation learning model, the focus is to demonstrate skill through simulations or deep, immersive role plays. Just remember, you are competing against the quality of the experience found in the world of consumer apps.
At a recent meet up, I had a great conversation with a frustrated instructional designer. She wanted to create better, more meaningful experiences for her customers, and felt that she could do so with more support (i.e. resources) from executives.
Here's what we came up with by the end of the conversation:
1) Her organization was funded for a Mass Distribution model with an Information Dissemination pattern. She could try to convince executives to move to a model focused on Skills Development and more interactive, meaningful experiences. To do this she had to find "That One Thing" (meaningful metric), that would excite the leadership team to move this direction.
2) She needed to find a company which valued meaningful, interactive, and engaging Skills Development experiences.
She agreed that IDs feel pressured to "make training more engaging" when in reality, the better route is to keep it short and to the point.
When executives ask for interactive or engaging training, do they really know what they are asking for? What have you experienced? Email me here, or leave a comment below.