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Nov 2016

Show not tell by giving your learners superpowers

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Shaping the future of learning

Scenarios (video or otherwise) are a fantastic way to immerse learners in the learning. They add realism and context, and can give learners control so that they have those all-important practice opportunities. However, anyone who's created a lot of scenarios realise that they're not enough to cover some topics. In many cases, you need to drop into instructional mode to deliver some information for the learner to make sense of what's going on. This drops the immersion by reminding learners they're learning. So how can you avoid 'telling' learners what's happening and stick with 'showing'?

Give your learners a unique view of their world

So you have an interactive scenario designed to give the learner context and insight. Let's say it's a typical workplace setting. They're in a meeting room and they need to judge personality types so they can negotiate something successfully. The problem is that the learner needs some extra insight to make sense of it all. Take a moment to think what superpower they would need in that situation to overcome the barriers. You don't need to ask your learner to dress up in virtual spandex (that might break all realism). In fact, you might be better to act like the extra ability is perfectly normal. Examples could be:

  • Conflict management: read other people's thoughts
  • Fixing leaks in pipes: see through walls
  • Overhauling a supply chain: levitate above the situation to see the landscape and transport links
  • Managing risk in social media: 'see' the cloud and navigate all the media, Minority Report-style
  • Bribery and Corruption: travel back in time to put things right... See the issues and change the headlines
  • Hazard management: high-tech detective vision

Again, you can be subtle and uncontrived with these devices. By showing the learner something they couldn't normally see, they can get an insight that might often rely on narrative to reveal. With the right superpower, your learner can get the gist while staying in an active mode. 

Worried  your learner won't suspend disbelief? Consider the holographic displays in CSI New York or the ability to generate reconstructions of any incident simply from a victim's injury's in Bones. How about Sherlock's mind palace and eidetic memory? Television crime drama gets away with it on a nightly basis.

Put the drama first

At Kineo we've created an anti-bribery and corruption course that used time travel where the learner needed to go back and put things right. The only 'traditional' learning screen was a summary at the end, plus an accompanying policy handbook.

Of course, if you want to go ahead and assess your learner in the same format you can take the training wheels off. Strip them of their superpower and ask them to make the judgements without the help.

All in the line of duty

You don't need a superhero treatment to give your learner extra senses. The superpowers are simply an analogue for the internal processes and judgements they need to make. By incorporating these into your scenarios, you can stay in the moment and avoid slipping back to presenting mode. This is particularly important for games and Virtual Reality where immersion is key.

Of course, you might want dress your learners in a cape and tights in some cases. The world will always needs heroes...



Shaping the future of learning

Kineo helps the world’s leading businesses improve performance through learning and technology. We’re proud of our reputation for being flexible and innovative, and of our award-winning work with clients across the world.

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