“To catch people’s attention and to ‘stick’ in people’s minds”, I said to the participants, “eLearning content should be simple, a little unexpected, concrete, credible, it should touch emotions and utilize stories. “
I continued: “And interactions should be interesting, challenging and engaging….”
One of the participants interrupted me: “But how do you, well, come up with this kind of content?”
Such a good question. Although it may have originally left me slightly speechless, the question certainly wouldn’t leave me alone afterwards. It kept bugging me during the weekend while I was emptying the dishwasher, playing the piano and cleaning the bunny cage. It made me go to my bookshelf and return to Creative confidence by Tom and David Kelley.
Creative confidence in short
So here is what I think: To create engaging content for learning I think one needs not just knowledge about the topic, but also creative confidence spiced up with a dashful of positive deviance.
The book Creative confidence (excellent website about the book is here and one of David’s TED talks can be found here) is an extremely energising read and makes you not only want to finish your creative work projects, but also be more active in your local community and design the part of your garden you have always left “as it is”.
Creative confidence doesn’t require you to be formally trained in arts, media, or the like. Instead, what you need is deep empathy for your users and curiosity to know more about the challenges in their daily working life. You need to have the courage and resilience to come up with plenty of ideas, as most of them will likely fail. You need to have a good routine of writing quick drafts and not waiting for “the one brilliant idea”.
A quick start?
Two quick things you can do to gain more creative confidence when starting a new eLearning project:
1) Get new perspective: Try flipping your questions. Assume that your reports give out depressing facts about eLearning attendance or adherence to safety measures etc. Instead of asking “Why aren’t people completing our eLearning modules?” ask: “Why are people in these certain locations participating in our eLearning modules so well?” Instead of asking “Why isn’t our staff wearing eye protectors when they need to?”, ask: “Why do these certain people wear eye protectors?”
2) Gain more empathy: Try interviewing one or two users on how they feel about your current eLearning modules available or the LMS. Let them tell you what they like, what they find difficult, how they fit eLearning in their work day, how they share their learnings with their colleagues and what would make them even more committed. Most important: Be quiet most of the time, don’t defend, don’t judge.
Just let them speak.