From Applying Techniques in Design to Creating Real Design for Education!

A day ago, I joined a discussion regarding the role of real designers in building learning programs and solutions for business clients.

In the various discussion threads I was inevitably drawn back to past experiences and various program developments I contributed as a program manager but also as an Education Designer (AKA as Instructional Designer). I am not fond nor a big fan of titles, such titles sometimes keep us imprisoned in some ivory tower disconnecting us from the real people’s world.

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Image Courtesy: KillerStartups

The big core question was often about what the client (the payer) wanted or expected and what was possible to provide knowing that everyone (specialist team, sales people and client’s reps) wanted the wow effect, not getting that all is linked to cost and time to make these wow come true. It was all about ROI for the client who paid the cost, the need to please the client from the marketing and sales side, the need to show-you-what-I-know from the design team members!

Did you notice a missing link here? Try to guess! Did you find? No? And the obvious answer is: People, learners, employees, who will get trained learning the company’s need to know or the plant or site know-how to use some machinery or processes, etc.

The trick about considering people, is reading only data, demographics, statistics, performance and skill acquisition level, all kinds of figures, ratios and percentages. This been said, I do not judge such thinking that is in total conformity with the thinking manner we have been used to since our childhood. If client is eager to “see” and “hear” about the ROI of such learning program, it is our (design, development, graphic and integration team) to bring to the table of thinking the often forgotten ROE (Return On Expectations).

I regularly felt challenged by my own team members about the “non-standard” approaches I was following in designing training programs, whether in classroom, instructor led or simply e-learning. My team mates were just following what was learned, what experts said about this or that and what the client wanted. I would never say they were wrong, on the contrary all was fitting according the proper manners. And I could never imagine blaming or criticizing or judging the way they worked (or maybe still work), let us keep in mind the fact these skills were provided in classes, courses, pre-defined concepts, ad so many other sources except one! The one that could make all the difference! Having the courage to give and opinion that does not refer to what experts say!

I could understand them feeling somehow disoriented with my way of considering a learning path, I could have imposed as a program manager my views, yet I wanted and hoped this project would be an occasion for everyone to learn that attending classes and getting a diploma is something very important, however this knowledge is supposed to teach us where we stand and how far we can move on in a certain daring creativity that would be for the best interests of learners.

I would like to conclude this paper with some of Peter Drucker’s thoughts about education:

“We now accept the fact that learning is a lifelong process of keeping abreast of change. And the most pressing task is to teach people how to learn.”

Michel – November 9, 2014

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