Back in my Year 10 Design Technology lessons I remember our teacher cheerily telling us about “jigs”, a tool you make to keep re-using and it creates perfect re-creations of your work.
Well, the perfect was a bit far stretched with my level of craftsmanship, but it did the trick for my potpourri wall mount still hanging in the family home.
The fact is though, the lesson reared its head again when I was thinking about how far we should “jig” / template our online master modules. Should everything follow a pattern to make sure its easy for a learner to get learning in repeatable and re-used activity patterns, or would that cause more problems that it solved?
Does work which has been overly “jig’d” lose its surprise and engagement?
Erm… what has stuck with me as I take on more leadership and planning is the brilliance and dullness a template can bring to your team’s work.
In online learning design, consistency is king / queen / non-gender denomination ruler. It means our IDs can re-produce high-quality learning experiences by following a simple learning design pattern. This also has the knock-on effect of making our learners feel safer and more comfortable with their learning. Often online learners can feel lonely and concerned that they’re not following instructions correctly, promoting them to reach out and check, which in turn can be a waste of their time.
This consistency means we can produce learning outputs quicker and have our learners have a better, safer learning experience.
The flip side however is consistency brings dullness and boredom, there’s a potential for the surprise of learning to be lost.
“Oh another video and discussion”, “oh another vote and discussion… “. Think how many of your learners signed up, or manages to complete a module spending their free time learning about a subject they are bored rigid with. So, repeatable patterns too much can breed boredom in a subject the students care about, whoops! Not cool.
That means in our template work we need to introduce consistency, but also allow room for our IDs to be creative and try new modes and formats for learning, allowing the user to enjoy a spark of fun or surprise in the weekly habit to complete their online masters.
The Half Jig Suprise
A harmony must be struck between learning content that is repeatable, familiar ground with disparate learners but also with breathing room for the fireworks, surprise and excitement and creativity from our IDs to make engaging learning experiences for our learners.
Our template isn’t perfect, but maybe it shouldn’t be. It allows for repeatable learning patterns, but the review process attempts to indicate where we should be making something “different” or “surprising” for our learners.