Wouldn’t it be great? – what would it take?

My family has been anxiously awaiting the release of a new video game. We know that we are going to buy it; the issue is whether we’ll buy it now or wait for a little while and buy it used – saving us $5 or $10. And we’re all going to play it – anticipating to spend many hours completing it.

And this got me thinking …
Folks drop anywhere from $50, $60, or more on a video game; and spend anywhere from 80, 90, 100 hours or more playing the game. (My family is no exception … we’ve got lots of games and have invested many hours playing each one). And we are eager and willing to spend that amount of money and invest that amount of time.

Wouldn’t it be great if learners were eager to invest their time completing a training program? … similar to the eagerness to complete a game …

Now I’m not suggesting that we develop training programs that eat up 80 hours or cost $50 or more. Far from it!

But the questions in my mind are why are folks (like me and my family) so willing to spend all that money and time playing a game? And what might it take to have learners eager and willing to spend time (even just one hour) completing a training program?

The bottom line is that games are fun. Training programs are rarely, if ever, fun. And I’m probably not going out on a limb too much to suggest that most training programs are outright boring.

From my own experience, if I find out that a training program is supposed to be 2 or 3 hours (or more), I try to find a way to avoid taking it … even for a course that is estimated to be 1 hour long – I try to get through it as quickly as possible (anticipating that it will be mostly information dumping and not interesting at all). In fact, I’m even of the mind that I won’t really learn anything at all … or will learn only very very little. My goal is to click through all the screens as quickly as possible so that it will show as ‘complete’ on my transcript in the LMS.

Now, I’m not suggesting that this is true for ALL training programs. Yet this is getting to be more and more common, particularly as we’re being subjected to so-called rapid elearning programs that are primarily converted PowerPoint decks.

And I need to take a good, hard look at the instructional designs I create – for I fear that some of mine may fall into the boring category.

So … back to my question …

What if learners were eager to spend their time completing a training program – and wanting to encounter the entire program, not just to speed through to a final score or completion? How could this be possible?

This isn’t going to happen overnight … and I think we have a bit of an uphill climb here. We have to change our own approaches and even mindset as instructional design professionals. And it will require some real culture change among subject matter expers, clients and the organization as a whole. Lots of difficult work, to be sure … but oh-so-much worthwhile.

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About Rory

I make my home in the central part of the Garden State along with my family. When I'm not working as an Instructional Designer (focusing mostly on Web-Based learning ... and other eLearning technologies) or researching something, I'm found at home playing computer or video games. Among other things, I volunteer as a choir member and catechist for 8th graders at my parish.
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