Sunday, August 10, 2014

Stories as Teaching Tools

There is power and value in stories as teaching tools. It is one of the oldest means of transferring knowledge from one generation to the next. This is the essence and power of Web-based learning. The problem is that most Web-based learning is too long.

I would contend that Web-based learning should not be longer than 10 minutes, and preferably around 5 minutes. In the corporate world, Web-based learning is being held hostage by the old one-day training seminar. Those sessions were typically one-day because the participant would have to leave his primary work environment and travel to a central learning location for the training.

With the advent of computer- and Web-based training systems the training could come to the participant and one- and two-hour training modules seemed like an acceptable time savings. Yet anyone who has had to sit through one of these knows, it can seem like an eternity.

These sessions, if properly developed, can be broken into individual, shortened units. The key lies with the learning objectives. A properly vetted course should have, or should have the ability to create, learning objectives at the page level.

It's the long forgotten role of SCORM to break down learning to the granular level so that the objects could be reused in any combination of elements. Unfortunately, like many complex concepts, its implementation was watered down to the point that its original purpose was rendered unworkable.

Stories need to be told, but they need to be told with focus. The whole story, which may require two or more hours for the telling, may be told, but tell it in granular bits. If you need to test, test in granular bits. There's no holy writ that mandates a 10-question final exam. But that's a discussion for another day.

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