In an age of fast moving technology and an audience ever hungry for the next "cool" thing, logically companies want their training to be perceived as snazzy and modern by their employees. And while we need to address that hunger, we also need to make sure we don't sacrifice effectiveness for the sake of appearances.
Have you ever picked up a magazine and found what looked like a cool article, but then you started reading it and quickly realized it was completely uninteresting and not at all what you thought it would be?
Have you ever visited a website that looked really modern and impressive, with Flash animation and stunning graphic design, only to find that it didn't answer your questions or give you enough information about the product or service?
Herein lies the problem with training.
I've seen programs where instructional designers insert, for example, a game just for the sake of having a game. And mostly because they feel like they need to have one. But when I look at the game, I can't figure out how it is furthering the educational objectives of the class. The game is often irrelevant to the material being covered, or covers material that doesn't matter according to the learning objectives, or is simply there just to take up time or to be "fun".
I've also seen programs that look beautiful (e-learning for example), but that have no substance to the content. Think about opening a snazzy e-learning course, with a professional template and interactive elements, and then finding that at the end of the course you didn't learn a thing. Why? Because all of the resources went into the look and feel - not the training design.
I'm all for having engaging training. But I think as course developers and as companies we have to stop and realize that glitz does not equal effective. Glitz is sort of the icing on the cake; your first priority should be to get solid instructional design in place. Because what I have found is that what makes an effective, engaging learning experience is not how glitzy it looks. But rather, it is how effectively it is designed. Meaning how well it meets adult learning needs and the learning objectives, with elements like making it relevant, having engaging conversations and activities, and incorporating all of the learning styles.
Are you sacrificing effectiveness for glitz? Make sure that any element of "glitz" or "fun" in your training is in fact a step forward in the learning process - not just a random experience to add perceived value.
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