Darth Vader vs. Two Face: A LRNchat discussion of Emotional Intelligence…

Batmanannual14Enjoyed LRNchat last night I am still chewing on the article and heated discussions that we had there involving Emotional Intelligence (EQ) described in a Jan. 2nd 2014 article by Adam Grant found on The Atlantic.  

The Dark Side of Emotional Intelligence
In some jobs, being in touch with emotions is essential. In others, it seems to be a detriment. And like any skill, being able to read people can be used for good or evil.

As someone who has previously experienced leadership whom had such a strong EQ, I was excited about the LRNchat topic. I initially identified with the “dark side” described in the pre-reading article and mentioned it previously in a post entitled, Why not just focus on the project? While I say this, I do have the hope that a strong EQ can be used for good as well. This is where the Two Face pop culture reference comes into play because EQ isn’t just one sided. So Darth Vader isn’t the most appropriate analogy. The Harvey Dent character in the Batman universe is truly two sided and this discussion of EQ should be too.  

I enjoyed how Grant’s article leads off with a description of Martin Luther King’s remarkable skill in managing his own emotions and in sparking emotions that moved his audience to action. With any instructional event the teacher is usually more passionate when they are emotionally engaged with the material.  Obviously MLK is considered such a great writer, thinker, teacher, preacher and his messages still live on today… although was this largely because of his EQ? How was his EQ measured? What is EQ anyways? Thus was the topics of our discussions.

The LRNchat took a sarcastic and tone last night that was often difficult to see where the participants were coming from. I will attest that I only skimmed the pre-reading but I felt like already had a strong understanding of emotional design, motivating learners, WIFM, affective domain, etc. to engage in the conversation. Here are the questions that we were engaged with:

Q1) What is Emotional Intelligence (Also known as EQ)?
Q2) What are the benefits of EQ?
Q3) What are the downsides or risks of EQ?
Q4) Can EQ be developed? If so, how? If not, why not?
Q5) What’s the relationship between EQ and learning?
Q6) How can we deliberately use emotion in designing learning experiences? Should we even do that? Why or why not?

Putting aside ample references to Star Wars, the force, and the dark side… the discussion was rich when we discussed the downsides and risks of EQ. So rich in fact it was difficult to move onto the final questions. Some in the conversation seemed to not believe in EQ, trust how it is measured/researched, believe it can be developed, and perhaps shouldn’t have a place in education.

From an instructional design perspective I understand where they are coming from. In simple terms, a learner has completed an instructional event when they have performed the objectives to their “specific level of standard.” Where does EQ fit into this? Let’s assume that the instructional event involves a teacher. Couldn’t the EQ influence their ability to teach?  The event obviously involves a learner. Couldn’t the learners EQ influence their ability to learn the material, be changed by the material, and make decisions on how to apply the material to new situations?

What about the content of the event? OK. Content cannot have an EQ but it can most definitely be designed to manipulate, to cause certain emotions, etc? Bloom’s Affective Domain isn’t often talked about but these objectives are written with verbs to get the learner to deal with things emotionally, such as feelings, values, appreciation, enthusiasms, motivations, and attitudes.  If you have seen any recent animal rights videos on The Internet, I am sure you have given being a vegetarian a 2nd thought.

The LRNchat community didn’t get to discuss the ethics of this. Should the learner be aware that the goal of the instruction is to change their feelings, values, appreciation, enthusiasms, motivations, and attitudes? What if their EQ is strong enough to not change? What about the educator’s “specific level of standard.” Does that mean that they didn’t meet the objectives according to the educator? Maybe it is important for the learner to be able to change? It’s a crude example but 2.3 people in America are in prison…

Where do you stand? What’s the relationship between EQ and learning? How can we deliberately use emotion in designing learning experiences? Should we even do that? Why or why not?


About DaveHallmon

With experience in web, graphic, and instructional design, Dave maintains a balance between what is efficient and effective in every message. He always focuses on the why and how rather than "just doing it" to get the job done. By day he works at a leading university designing online courses that support 9,000 students in 64 countries. He works directly with faculty to brainstorm, design, and develop their online instruction utilizing the Adobe suite. He also teaches for the university as an adjunct faculty member in the area of web design. By night he is a devoted husband, father, freelancer, and adventurer of the outdoors. His other interests include LifeHacker, Science Fiction and Hayao Miyazaki movies, Settlers of Catan, and coffee with friends. He currently lives in St. Louis and has an M.S. in Instructional Design and aspires to pursue a professional degree in content marketing and strategy. Visit the links below for more information about his interests and design work.
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One Response to Darth Vader vs. Two Face: A LRNchat discussion of Emotional Intelligence…

  1. Pingback: Staying Current in Instructional Design | Instructional Design

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