Learning Passengers

In his post Instructional Design Lessons from the State Fair, Brian Washburn discusses learner preference from the viewpoint of his children’s behaviors at the state fair. One child enjoys going on the rides while the other would rather play the games. Washburn relates learning to going on a roller coaster. He explains that a ride is something that happens to you. There is no need to perform or do anything, just enjoy the ride. He claims that some people prefer to learn in the same fashion as riding a ride. They prefer to sit back and let it happen, becoming passengers to the material they are learning.

Washburn asks “What can we, as instructional designers and trainers, do to hold ourselves accountable to making sure this kind of training participant still walks away with increased knowledge, skills or abilities?” He proposes multiple methods of delivery, such as storytelling and gaming, as the solution.

The post made me think of my last trip to Disney World, which is bigger and more expensive than most state fairs. My particular memory was on the Buzz Lightyear ride. Not only is it a ride, it’s a laser tag game complete with scoring and ranking. Another interesting aspect, not particularly unique to this ride, is the line get on the ride itself. The waiting an immersive experience of its own. You are briefed on your “mission”, given instructions from Buzz and interact with other characters from the Toy Story world. Upon completion of the adventure you are conveniently escorted to the gift shop.

The ride, from waiting line to its completion, allows for an interactive experience for all passengers. Making passengers active participants in the adventure. I feel that learning events may benefit from this approach and, with the right stake holder buy in, the sky is the limit. In the words of Buzz Lightyear “To infinity and beyond!” What can we do as instructional designers to implement immersive experiences to learning interventions and transform passengers to adventurers?

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