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People, Stories, and Surprises – Training Tips

Posted by Posted in: Adult Learning Principles, Instructional Design, Online Classes, Training Tips


Recently, the Shift eLearning Blog had a post entitled “Understanding People is the Most Important Thing in eLearning Design.”

I think that many of their tips can be applied to both online and face-to-face environments. Below are a few of my take-aways, but the full post is linked above if you’d like to click over to it.

Their first principle is: people like people. They suggest that in designing e-learning, you should incorporate images or videos of people to make the lesson more engaging. I think whenever possible, we should go further and try to provide opportunities for people to interact with each other. When I think about the last class or conference I attended, one of my favorites aspects is talking with others about new techniques or ways to solve problems. You might add discussion or polls to your classes to take advantage of this principle.

Secondly, people like stories. This is probably not a surprise if you reflect on presenters you’ve seen – it always seems more memorable if they’ve used a story to illustrate an important idea. Can you create a realistic scenario or recall a story to make the message stick in your classes? Maybe you have a story about a time research changed a diagnosis or treatment decision? Consider adding stories like these to your classes to make the content of the class easier to understand or recall.

Shift also states that people like both organization and surprises. At first, this might seem a bit contradictory. The overall course should have a clear and logical flow, but an occasional surprise can be fun and really help information to stick. Like a plot twist in a great novel, a surprise can re-engage the learner and show a novel way to look at the information, especially if it’s something they may have encountered previously. Thinking about something you often teach, how can you incorporate something unexpected?

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