Why do you think film makers employ scriptwriters to write dialogs? Why can't anybody write an ad copy? Why do writers spend hours polishing the language of their texts? Why do our political leaders and heads of nations depend on speechwriters to write what they want to say to their followers? That's because words matter! Words are powerful tools that can stir emotions and rouse crowds to action. A cheery "hello" breaks the ice. A heartfelt "how are you" is the start of many lasting relationships. A sincere "sorry" mends broken hearts. And think of all the great political speeches delivered throughout the centuries. Those words have led entire nations to war and ushered in social revolutions. Words are so powerful that they can change the way the brain perceives to make us act and feel.
Remember those days in school when you used to cram in whole books the night before the test? Did you remember afterwards even a wee bit of what you gobbled up within the space of a few hours? You didn't because you had to cram in the same chapters again when the next test was around. On the other hand, you still remember the multiplication tables that you learned years ago. Why do you think you forgot what you learned the night before the test and remember what you learned years ago? It couldn't be that you didn't work hard to learn. No it isn't. The answer is in the way you learned. Crammed or typical learning (learning in a hurry and all at once) does not aid retention. But when learning is both spaced out and repeated, you remember more. As an instructional designer, it is imperative that you know the difference between the two learning methods, so you can design courses that stick.
Your e-Learning course must have a narrative that flows. Like a cinematic masterpiece, your selection of graphics, text, audio, and video all need to work together — complementing one another so that your learners remain glued to the screen. A great way of developing a narrative that flows is by using various cinematic techniques. Hence, this post will highlight some film techniques that will give a touch of Hollywood to any eLearning course, and which (of course) every eLearning designer must have in their toolbox. But before we can start calling/taking some shots, there is some storytelling to be done.
A metaphor is a powerful figure of speech. It strings together seemingly disparate ideas and/or objects to create novel associations that bring to life and simplify an abstract concept or a complex process. It creates a "shortcut to understanding." Metaphors grab eyeballs by creating novel (sometimes wacky) associations that tickle learners and keep them engaged. Metaphors can also trigger powerful emotions. His business went bust. Vs. His business collapsed like a house of cards. The field is full of yellow flowers. Vs. The field is a carpet of yellow blooms. She felt hopeless. Vs. She was in a bottomless pit of despair. The two sentences in each of the above sets convey the same idea, but the second sentence in each case paints a more vivid picture or evokes a stronger emotion. That's because the sentences use metaphors to emphasize an idea or to expand on the meaning.
Remember how you learned math? You went through four stages. You learned what adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing mean (tell). Then your teacher taught you how to add, subtract, multiply, and divide (show). You practiced sums (do), and then came the dreaded exams (apply). This is how all learning takes place, and it is no different with eLearning.
Concepts are knowledge tools that identify, define, explain, analyze, and demonstrate real-life elements and events. These are broad ideas that are in many instances, true across geographical and cultural boundaries. There are two kinds of concepts: sensory and abstract. The characteristic features of sensory concepts are tangible, can be picked by one or more of our sensory organs, and are apparent in any example you may pick up. For instance, a course for trainee physicians to help them learn how to diagnose diseases will mostly deal with sensory concepts. On the other hand, some features of abstract concepts are neither visible nor tangible. Courses on people management and leadership often contain abstract concepts. As an instructional designer, you will have to teach both sensory and abstract concepts. Here’s a three-step process to help you teach concepts:
The specialized and in-depth knowledge subject matter experts have is a treasure trove for their organization. If leveraged with a learning initiative and transferred properly, it can significantly boost overall performance within that organization.