April 25, 2016

“Although instructional design typically focuses on the cognitive aspects of learning, a new line of research is now exploring the affective dimension too. Known as “emotional design,” this research looks at the ways a learner’s feelings and mood can influence motivation and learning results.”  (from “Why Aesthetics Matter to Learning” by Connie Malamed, published by ATD, formerly ASTD)

Unfortunately, the importance of aesthetics in e-Learning design and development is often ignored.  For some unknown reasons, the creative artistry that more often distinguishes the great learning experience from the boring lies unexplored.  And yet, every program or production that we remember is most often the one that appealed to our senses and that, in turn, stimulated our mind to learn, absorb and retain.

While we all know the importance of the SME, the computer programmer, and the instructional designer — far too often, we select those individuals solely for their skill set, ignoring the importance of their “artist’s eye.”

And yet, it is often the aesthetic distinguishers that lift our programs into the higher plains of learning.

We all have the deepest respect for the advances that have been made in Science and Technology.  But, we must be careful.  The primal importance of Art must never be lost. Whether that Art is in Music, Writing, Painting, Architecture or Design, it has an equally important place in almost everything.

Education and Training forget that from time to time — and, the result is “lost opportunity.”

E-Learning courseware needs to present itself to the end user with both Art and Technology in order to reap the increases in thinking and retention so desired by us all.

If you need examples, just take a look at the iPhone or the iPad.  Sure, the technology is breathtaking.  But, so is the artistic design and the aesthetics surrounding the users’ experience.  We recognize the importance of line, mass, form, and color when we use those products.

And, so it should be with the e-Learning programs that you produce or purchase.  Information, by itself, is never enough.  It’s the aesthetics that will make your choices memorable; enhance learning more completely; and, increase the length of the retention.

We engineer many products and the result, with the best of them, becomes a well-baked cake.  But, the cake will taste much better after you apply the icing.  And, that is where the aesthetic choices you make will turn your “courseware cake” into either something special or something bland.  Both useful, perhaps, but one will be to savor.

More on Wednesday –  –  –

     — Bill Walton, co-Founder, ITC Learning

      www.itclearning.com/blog/  (Mondays & Wednesdays)

 (This is a personal blog.  Any views or opinions represented in this blog are personal and belong solely to the blog owner, jhbillwalton@gmail.com, an independent consultant.  They do not represent those of people, institutions or organizations that the owner may or may not be associated with in a professional or personal capacity.)