How important are questions when delivering learning content? Do they really help to make the learner feel engaged? And does the learner really sit there and answer these questions in their head? Well, you can probably answer that based on how you responded to the last three!
While bombarding the learner with unnecessary questions can seem like a cheap attempt to get a reaction, using their answers to personalise the learning journey is a completely different ball game. It also gives the opportunity for dialogue that breaks away from statements and declaratives, creating a learning environment based on debate not dictation; in short, a conversation with the learner.
Take this web page, WTF is Brexit?, created by Peter Yeung and Alvin O as an example. Not ‘intending to comprehensively analyse Brexit’ it manages to both inform and entertain (just a warning, before you take a look you should know that its language is NSFW, so perhaps save it for your commute!). I personally felt compelled to read it until the end, after one too many newspaper articles about the subject have stopped me in my tracks. The simple function of personalising responses based around my answers and decisions allowed for an interactive discussion, where I, as the learner, came away feeling as if I had been talking to someone on my level.
Targeted at millennials (the most pro-EU group in the UK, it informs me!) it uses the look and feel of an online chat conversation, where admittedly, a lot of my generation spend their time. But what about engaging older and possibly less savvy tech generations? Is engagement still possible without the inspiration of BBM / WhatsApp / the next big thing…
Yes! The main things to take away from this particular example is its 1) direct engagement with the user and its 2) personalised content dependant on their choices. Arguably the only way in which classroom learning still trumps anything digital is the direct engagement between the learner and the teacher. I say arguably because it’s difficult for a teacher to engage 30 plus participants in a personal journey. They usually pitch understanding of a subject to get most of the class through it. However, questions wonderful questions, allow for a more intimate digital experience. By using the information gathered in an intelligent way, be it in branching scenarios or self-reflection diagnostics, the user has had a learning experience, rather than a lecture.
Whether you’re in, or out, you’re not quite sure what BBM is or you totally disliked ‘WTF is Brexit’s’ use of curse words, one thing that can be agreed on is an interactive experiences leads to a clearer understanding, more specific to the learner.