Wednesday, December 30, 2009

January Thiagi Gameletter

The first 2010 Thiagi Gameletter has been released by Sivasailam (Thiagi) Thiagaraja. For anyone unfamiliar with Thiagi, he is a long-time advocate of developing training that is both fun and to the point. The January edition contains a thought-provoking piece for any instructional designer labeled Ten Exciting Ways to Waste Your Training Dollars. In this piece Thiagi skewers conventional wisdom around analysis and planning, content, and delivery. For example, here is his take on multimedia.

5. Multimedia Spectacular

Conventional wisdom: Invest time and money in producing slick media materials. Participants are used to watching TV shows and animated computer graphics and reading five-color printed materials. They have high expectations for production quality. So use the latest technology and the most attractive layout for your training package.

Reality: As my friend Richard Clark points out, it is not the production quality but the instructional design quality that contributes to effective instruction. For example, a fancy television documentary may not result in more effective learning than an inexpensive handout. Also, most non-print media take a longer time to produce and much longer time to revise than paper and pencil approaches. And as my friend Ruth Clark points out, sophisticated graphics and animation may actually distract people from learning.

Recommendation: Use the least expensive and most portable medium for training. In most cases this turns out to be paper and pencil.

All 10 of his items serve as a sobering wake-up call to instructional designers everywhere. Other topics covered in his January newsletter are:

  • An article about synthetic culture activities, which are a special type of simulation game.
  • A positive psychology activity about five approaches to increasing your feelings of subjective well-being.
  • An Guest Gamer interview with Scott Nicholson.
  • A Textra game with the immodest objective of bringing about world peace.
  • 99 words of advice from Brian Remer on how to ride out life's turmoils.
  • Articles and activities by Brian about different aspects of breathing.
  • Information about game design workshops in Zurich and Chicago.
  • Tracy's single topic survey about new-year's resolutions.
  • A report on last month's single topic survey.
  • An invitation to our podcasts, hosted by Matthew Richter.

TGL: January 2010