Tell me and I’ll forget…

The Chinese are full of words of wisdom and I’ve come across a proverb (in a promotional freebie booklet from Pret, as it happens) that seems particularly relevant to what we do here at Saffron.

Tell me and I’ll forget.
Show me and I’ll remember.
Involve me and I’ll understand.

Wise words indeed. This saying really does sum up the Saffron philosophy – we want to enable our end users to learn by doing. There’s absolutely no point in throwing in fancy animations and impressive graphics if all we’re really producing is a glorified PowerPoint presentation – a page turning exercise with little to no learning value.

Of course, every e-learning course has to include an element of ‘tell me’ – it wouldn’t be feasible to create an entirely interactive training solution (with the possible exception of captures based systems training, of which more is to come next week). And we build in ‘show me’ elements where it’s most appropriate: memorable news stories the learner might recognise and which will stick in their mind; animations to illustrate the stages of a process; videos to emulate situations the learner could well experience in their daily work.

But there’s no doubt that the very best learning includes a large dose of ‘involve me’, of user interaction. This might be through very simple activities such as click to reveals, or through asking the learner to rack their brains and existing knowledge by presenting them with a question or asking them what they would do in a given situation. It could be achieved by creating a highly developed scenario and positioning the learner as a character within it.

Whichever approach to user involvement you choose, the crucial thing to remember is that interactions shouldn’t be built in for the sake of it, but only when they are the best way to get the learning across. There’s no need to include an interaction on every screen and there’s no recommended number to include in every unit. What’s important is recognising what the key messages are and finding the most appropriate way to get those messages across.

Stay tuned for next week’s blog – …Involve me and I’ll understand

About the author

Stephanie Dedhar - Instructional designer