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I'm a geek working as a distance learning specialist for a large corporation.

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I'm going to revisit a couple of topics discussed here recently and then we'll hit some new topics. Well, after my last post I finished watching The Event. I stick withRevisitation and new worlds

This is one of the "prettier" explosions I've seen. Love the compression wave. [kml_flashembed movie="http://embed.break.com/Mjc1NjI4" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /] The sound of the shrapnel flying past through the end just completes theThat blowed up reeeel good

Today held a couple of movie 'firsts' for me. I didn't see either of them coming. The first 'first': I went to a movie alone. The second 'first': I left before itThe #1 reason to walk out of Inception is...

First of all, I have to say how shocked I am that I'm mentioning this before Lee. Somebody must have him locked in a very nasty dungeon. Good luck withIron Man 2 trailer released

This is just an awesome idea. Nicely done. When this kid plays the house, he really plays the house! I wonder if anyone has hooked up Mario like that... I hadn't done aChristmas Hero! - Tuesday TubeWatch returns

I knew a few phrases from maybe 3 or 4 Johnny Cash songs before I saw this movie. I knew he had gone to prison (though I wasn't sure why),Review: Walk the Line

Corporate eLearning Strategies and Development: Its a Big @$$ table - hilarious video I love this. Great Microsoft parody. [tags]microsoft, touch screen, youtube, big ass table[/tags]Cool, new, sleek, bulky technology

I've always loved drums. I can't remember a time when I wasn't "drumming." I put that in quotes because I've rarely actually had a drum at my disposal. I've beatDrum roll, please!

Smallville's a repeat tonight after the mid-season cliffhanger two weeks ago. Not sure where the plot is going? Come on... Chloe is still possessed by Brainiac, Doomsday is a ravingSmallville fix

Michael Bay takes his crash, slam, bang frenzied filmmaking and applies it to Logan's Run. Okay, it's not quite that useless, but if I'm falling asleep during action sequences you knowReview: The Island

Here's the thing about Michael Bay's Transformer films: from what I've seen, there's not much plot involved. With this new trailer I was hoping we'd get some semblance of plotNew Transformers trailer is nice but...

Silence. That's all I was after. Just make the screaming stop (and prevent me from adding to it) - nothing else mattered. While the challenge presented by my youngest childThe Silence of the Lamb

We're heading back toward another season of Doctor Who! Matt Smith will reprise his role as The Doctor starting on Easter weekend (April 23rd). Also returning are companions (and newlyweds)Doctor, Doctor, gimme the news...

Computer-Generated Image Looks Exactly Like a Beautiful Woman - Gizmodo Click the link above to see a completely CG image of a real Korean actress. Those of you with keen eyesIs she, or isn't she?

Creating Passionate Users Risk aversion can take a good idea and make it useless. And risk aversion is rampant in corporations. That's one of the points in Kathy's post. It's aRisk aversion can hurt you

Re-igniting passion

Creating Passionate Users: Re-igniting passion

We can’t expect passionate users, if we ourselves can’t hold (or rediscover) the passion we felt for the work we chose.

That is an excellent point. When the world is beating down on you with a sledgehammer, it’s easy to lose sight of the passion you had when you first began in your field. And for those responsible for providing training to others, that can really hurt effectiveness.

Passion is infectious. But so are boredom and apathy. If you are a trainer, your passion can change the way a student perceives your subject. If they thought it would be stale you can convince them that it is exciting because it’s obvious that you find it interesting. Conversely, if you appear bored to tears yourself, it becomes very easy for the student to mentally check-out.

In the blog I’m quoting, Kathy refers to a book she recently read on teaching/learning: Harvard University Press: What the Best College Teachers Do.

What makes the best teachers so good?

From the Harvard Press website book summary:

The short answer is–it’s not what teachers do, it’s what they understand. Lesson plans and lecture notes matter less than the special way teachers comprehend the subject and value human learning. Whether historians or physicists, in El Paso or St. Paul, the best teachers know their subjects inside and out–but they also know how to engage and challenge students and to provoke impassioned responses. Most of all, they believe two things fervently: that teaching matters and that students can learn.

Okay, so passion is important in learning. That’s all great and inspiring for instructor-led, face-to-face training situations. But what about the corporate training world, where students/employees are geographically dispersed and getting together in person isn’t feasible? How do we apply these concepts in an environment where instructional designers are creating self-paced material that gets delivered online? How do you communicate passion through a cold, impersonal computer screen?

I’ll be honest with you: I don’t have the answer.

I do, however, have some ideas. (Actually, to continue with the whole honesty thing, they aren’t really my ideas. This is more of a list of things I’ve heard and agree with.) None of these are a silver bullet. Some are just minor things; others take a lot more effort (but presumably have a larger impact). Not all are practical for every situation, nor is this an exhaustive list. But they all have the potential to communicate passion. Consider using some of these techniques in your next designs.

  • Use stories and narrative. Create a plot and draw your user in, don’t just show the screens or the process steps and move on.
  • Use pictures showing faces with strong expressions.
  • Use graphics that add excitement (but make sure they are relevant to the content! See “e-Learning and the Science of Instruction” by Ruth Colvin Clark and Richard E. Mayer for more)
  • Don’t be afraid to show a little personality – even if it’s corny.
  • Use color.
  • Use audio. (but don’t just read the text or use irrelevant sounds — again, see “e-Learning and the Science of Instruction”)
  • Give the users a choice in the order they go through the material. If it doesn’t have to be a linear presentation, let them choose what to learn next.
  • Pepper the lesson with questions that present problems in real-life situations.
  • Write in the first person. It makes the user feel like there is someone there.
  • Use case studies from your own experience – especially failures and ‘a-ha’ moments. E.g., “When presented with both a ‘Remove’ and ‘Delete’ button, be sure you know which does what (see section 5.2). When I was first learning how to use the user administration screen, I was trying to remove a user from a test group, but accidently deleted my boss from the system!”
  • Make unexpected parallels to common non-work experiences. Compare a file management system to a toaster (yes, I did that in my first user manual).

There are plenty more possibilities. This is just the tip of the iceberg. Maybe I’ll post more ideas later. Maybe I’ll expand upon some of these. (Then again, maybe not … I’m fickle that way.)

How do you infuse your passion into your deliverables? Leave a comment. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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