Now that the feast is completely digested, we look back to a week ago at the festivities of Thanksgiving. The soft creamy potatoes, decadent sweet potatoes, and most importantly, a thick slab of juicy turkey slathered in tart, tangy cranberry sauce. It’s the kind of meal where you just can’t help but trade your self-respect for a full warm belly and a long tryptophan-induced nap.
Several days after the feasting frenzy, I remember the long hours preparing the meals, the planning and coordination involved, and a gnawing sense of deja vu. Sure, this happened every year, but for whatever reason I slipped into the focused mental state I normally reserve for the weekday 9 to 5.
Planning, Coordination, and Teamwork
To have a successful Thanksgiving feast requires a lot of forethought. I don’t know about you, but in the month leading up to the holiday, my family had been sending a few dozen emails back and forth just to plan the event. “Who is cooking the turkey?” “Do we want green beans?” “Is five gallons of fruit salad too much?” and on and on.
An eLearning course requires a similar level of strategy. You have a team of people with various skills and responsibilities all trying to assemble a great product. That takes coordination, and a leader with a vision. It takes unity and a singular purpose.
Following a Recipe
There are times to experiment with cooking, but Thanksgiving should not be one of those times. Don’t try adding skittles to your green bean casserole and testing your diabolical concoction on your loved ones when there are countless, legitimate, road-tested recipes that could serve you well. It doesn’t mean you’re not creative if you don’t innovate every meal. We’re here for the final draft, not the trial version!
By the same token, it doesn’t make you a less creative professional if you follow a formula in eLearning. Creativity is not so much about knocking down the walls and running wild as it is about giving yourself constraints and figuring out how to stretch yourself and use those constraints to your advantage.
There’s also no shame in using a template. On the contrary, templates give you a boost. Even if you didn’t build it from scratch, that doesn’t mean it can’t take skill to customize a template effectively. You still have to fill in the blanks and tweak things to fit your needs, and that is your prerogative. After all, you wouldn’t disown your grandmother for cooking a delicious plate of cookies if you found out she used a mix, would you? She still needs to add eggs, milk, maybe a stick of butter–and that’s not even accounting for the copious amount of love she pours into each batch!
Something for Everyone
The best part of the event is the freedom to choose your meal. Unless you’re still in grade school, you can pick and choose which dishes you will partake, and which ones you won’t touch. As a host or hostess, you’ll need to make sure you have a spread that appeals to all of your guests. Does Uncle Steve have an aversion to cranberry sauce due to an unexplained childhood trauma? Do you need to offer some tofurkey for your vegetarian sister? These things need to be planned out!
There are many different learning styles out there. Some learn by doing, others by reading, and others by discussing the matter. That’s why it’s important to be conscious of your audience. Allow your learners to submit questions and comments as to how to improve the course. No course should be allowed to gather dust. Go back periodically to make sure the information is up to date and caters to the learning styles of your audience.
Though it’s not always essential, a meal just seems so much more special when you have dessert to look forward to. You were a big girl/boy and you ate all your vegetables! You deserve a little something to reward your bravery!
A quick game or activity is great way to cap off a course. Your learners took time out of their busy schedule to learn a new skill, and you want to commend them for doing so. If they know that you appreciate them enough to make the experience enjoyable, then they just might come back for more!
What aspect of Thanksgiving reminds you of eLearning? Share your analogies in the comments!