In my previous post—How Can Instructional Designers Avoid The Sharks? I started discussing Jason McDonald’s 2010 article in TechTrends—Resisting Technological Gravity that presents some “guiding principles” for our practice as instructional designer. He proposes that for an instructional designer to resist this “gravity” we must be constantly reminded of what instruction is, how instruction is made, and what instruction is for. So today let’s discuss the first tenant in his section, “what instruction is.” Here Jason presents a personal metaphor that he identifies with, i.e., we could think of instruction as a story.
He believes that this metaphor can be helpful to us because it places the importance on the experience of the learner during the instruction. In this metaphor Jason suggests that
“meaningful learning happens when learners’ interest and emotions are engaged as much as is their cognitive processes. It implies that instructional designers can intentionally structure learning experiences that encourage mystery and anticipation, capturing learners’ sense of wonder and using it for educational ends.”
Doesn’t this sound entertaining for the learner? To be honest… developing instruction like this I would hope help the designer to be entertained as well. To conclude, Jason reminds us of the dichotomy between the designer and the learner within the learning environment and discusses them in relation to archetypes (roles) we may be familiar with in literature:
- Mentoring of the hero (learner) so they can complete a quest
- Tricksters creating playful and humorous experiences for learners
- Treasure guardians that guard the instruction until the learner can claim the prize
Not necessarily something mind blowing but how often do we think of our learners as heroes that we are mentoring? How about my favorite literature reference of us as “tricksters” creating engaging challenging learning experiences for our learners? Sounds a little like the Detective Comics super villain The Riddler doesn’t it? The DC Comics Database showcases Batman’s nemesis as an enemy that leaves challenging clues behind in otherwise perfect crimes. He delights in forewarning both Batman and the police of his capers by sending them complex clues.
In some ways would you agree that we are like the Riddler? Are we not creating engaging learning experiences through the use of riddles, puzzles, and word games?