One of the more frequent questions we hear goes something like this:
"I've done all the right things: I did my analysis, designed appropriate learning activities, and developed my course using valid instructional design principles. Yet I'm not getting great feedback on my courses. What am I doing wrong?"
The short answer: You're probably not doing anything wrong.
You didn't say which process or methodology you're using but the fact that you have standards in place leads me to believe you're doing the right things.
Most designers use ADDIE (analysis, design, development, implementation, and evaluation) as a process for building courses. Sure, there are variations, but almost all instructional design models incorporate similar elements, in one form or another.
And while ADDIE provides a helpful and systematic approach for crafting learning experiences, it's not a tool to stimulate creative thinking.
Lookin' forward to the e-learning
Remember how much air time the Friday music video got when it first came out? After a few weeks, what happened? I'll bet each subsequent time you heard or watched the video, you liked it less.
E-learning courses are a lot like the Friday video.
A course that seems great today probably won't seem nearly as great next year or the year after. Building better courses is less about doing things "right" and more about finding ways to manage and meet your learners' shifting expectations.
The advertising industry understands this. The most successful ads are usually those that don't look like ads. There's even an annual contest to celebrate the best and most creative ads each year.
The ADDY Awards are the world's largest advertising competition. Its sponsor, the American Advertising Federation, describes the awards like this:
"The ADDY Awards program is designed to reward creative excellence in advertising. It is, therefore, a creative competition. Of course, there are no absolute measures for creative excellence, no devices that can be laid beside a piece of work to determine its worth. The judging of good or effective advertising, versus bad or ineffective advertising, is a difficult task, at best. Like other selective processes, which call for opinions, it is extremely subjective."
In other words, you can do everything right and still not win.
Let's be clear. No one's suggesting you skip over doing the basics—that's your foundation. You still have to conduct analysis, design appropriate practice activities, and structure everything in a way that makes sense.
But there's also an x-factor. Like successful advertising, great elearning courses also have an "it." And that "it," is your ADDY.
Click here to learn more about "it"
Does This Course Have ADDY?
ADDY doesn't mean you have to redesign your course model or change how you're delivering courses. Instead, it's about incrementally trying new techniques and approaches.
Here are a few ways—with examples—you can design more ADDY into your courses.
Stories are ideal for communicating how something works in the real world. Emphasize or exaggerate the conflict or consequences over the information. Want an easy place to begin? Try reproducing a popular reality show format like Mike did in Psyched in 10:
Another idea is to let the dialog drive the course using a layered-storytelling approach similar to Bruce's Machine Principles.
Humor and parodies
What are some common analogies or clichés that apply to your topic? If you're designing a course on lawn care, what could you compare it to?
If you think of weeds as your enemy then you might also see it as your mission to eradicate them to protect the residential lawn. That could give you a Home Improvement meets Stripes meets Caddyshack design theme.
Point of view and perspective
When you want learners to see your courses differently, you have to disrupt their expectations. Reversing or changing viewpoints is a classic ADDY technique for contrasting the expected with the unexpected.
If you're training sales people to educate consumers about bed bugs, for example, you could present things as if you were:
- The salesman looking to generate new business
- The consumer looking for common signs of infestation
- A bed bug looking for room and board
Check out this inspiring thread for even more creative angles you could use.
Shock tactics and drama
If your training is about solving a problem, try emphasizing the problem with drama or provocative graphics.
Say you're designing training on diabetes, how would you begin the course? Bullet points? Graphs and charts? Statistics? If you're going for ADDY, you might open with the sound of a heart pump and a time bomb strapped around someone's waist.
What do you think?
What are some of your favorite courses? What made them stand out from others you've seen? What are some marginal changes you can make to give your courses more ADDY?