There is a creative aspect of effective learning that is often overlooked.

Particularly with most current E-Learning examples we see courseware that has been “engineered” and with little capability to motivate the trainee either to learn or remember. “Cookie cutter” E-Learning (repurposed PowerPoint and written procedures) abounds all around us. And, of course, with disastrous consequences. (These reading-based courses have abysmal retention results, if for no other reason then the fact that 65% of our students/trainees never complete such a “cookie cutter” E-Learning course.)

We’ve seen a marked decline in creative instructional design from the halcyon days of Interactive Laser Videodisc to the early days of CD-ROM training and, then, an off-the-cliff drop as we have transitioned into E-Learning.

Yet, this decline of exciting, motivational technology-based instruction doesn’t have to continue. Understanding our modern learning culture and applying creative imagination to the process can do wonders.

Imagination is the single catalyst that drives creativity. One of America’s greatest scenic artists, Robert Edmond Jones, defined that process most appropriately when he wrote, “Imagination is the faculty for realization.”

No one can create anything meaningful unless their imagination can foresee that created object or concept already realized in their own mind.

Imagination is not fantasy. Fantasy is inner-directed, while imagination lets us envision worlds outside ourselves. And, if we are all going to fully grasp today’s learning culture transition, we will only do so if we can exercise a genuine imagination, which can empower us to see into the future of learning. A future, incidentally, which will be essential to economic advancement around the globe as well as the twenty-first century means for advancing individual achievement and any resultant social harmony.

Currently, we have three learning media that cry out for imaginative, creative design: digitized CD-ROMs, E-Learning that is designed around video and optional word-for-word audio, as well as Gaming and Simulations. At this particular moment, those are the three broad classifications of training that can actually succeed in markedly improving learning outcomes. The first and third have embraced the creative imagination and learning culture awareness — so lacking in our current E-Learning examples. It’s past time for the instructional designs associated with E-Learning to catch up with the more effective work being done in digitized CD-ROM training and in the Gaming and Simulation arena.

Pay attention to the common denominators: visual and audio components that are imaginatively constructed for the benefit of the learners. Today, E-Learning cannot meet that test.

More on Tuesday – – – – –

— Bill Walton, Founder, ITC Learning (Tuesdays & Thursdays)