What’s Your Goal?

What should be a training designer’s goal? The answer would seem obvious: design a training solution.  While that may be the product the designer produces, it should not be the goal.

Recently I’ve been reading Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses by Jesse Schell. While at Blueline we often find a serious game or game-like element is an effective part of a training solution, I’ve found that the lenses that Schell offers extend beyond games to training solutions in general.

In chapter two Schell states, “Ultimately, a game designer does not care about games. Games are merely a means to an end. On their own, games are just artifacts – clumps of cardboard, or bags of bits. Games are worthless unless people play them. Why is this? What magic happens when games are played?

When people play games, they have an experience. It is this experience that the designer cares about. Without the experience, the game is worthless.

I think we could easily substitute “training” for “game” in his statement and it would fit nicely. Yes, I’m fully aware of Bloom’s taxonomy and it’s importance in writing clear and specific objectives for a training solution. And I strongly support the theory that the ultimate outcome of any training should be a positive impact on business results. However, from a designer’s perspective, the goal should be to design an experience that leads to those results.

That’s why we say that at Blueline we focus on immersive learning experiences, whether they be simulations (classroom or esim ), virtual classrooms, learning visuals , or even large group communications events. To paraphrase Schell’s question, “What magic happens when Blueline training occurs?” it is the rich immersive experience that produces the results.

Keeping the learner’s experience in mind throughout the design and development process leads to a set of questions beyond just “was the content clearly communicated?” and “was ample practice provided for skill development?” Thinking about designing an experience that leads to powerful learning means continually asking questions like:

  • What frame of reference is the learner likely to have at this point?
  • How receptive to learning will the learner be? How can we increase that receptivity?
  • How have the previous elements or activities likely affected the energy and focus of the learner? How will this element or activity impact that focus or energy level?
  • How can we engage the learner’s interest, curiosity, and/or emotions with this material?
  • How might we have the learner “disagree” to incite more passion about the topic?
  • What methods can we use so the learner must actively engage with the material rather than merely serve as a passive recipient of information?
  • Would a “failure”or a “success” at this point be more likely to engage the learner? Increase the stickiness of the learning?
  • What situation can we setup so the learner actively creates his or her own learning? Or generates his or her own data?

When we design with the learner’s experience in mind, we keep the learner and not the content front and center. Developing a training that puts the learner at the center more often than not results in greater learning comprehension and stickiness.

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