Thursday, February 23, 2023

Interactivity Versus Engagement in Learning

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay 

As an instructional designer, it's essential to understand the difference between interactivity and engagement when designing effective learning experiences. Both of these terms are often used interchangeably, but they refer to distinct concepts that play different roles in the learning process.

Interactivity refers to the degree to which learners can actively participate with the learning material. Typically, in an elearning scenario, interactive learning experiences involve the use of technology, simulations, and other tools that allow learners to interact with the content and practice applying new skills and knowledge. This approach is particularly effective for developing technical skills or other forms of procedural knowledge that require repeated practice and feedback.

Engagement, on the other hand, refers to the emotional connection that learners have with the learning experience. Engaged learners are interested in the material because they find it relevant and know how and when to use the learning. They are motivated to learn more and are invested in their own progress. Engagement is important because it helps learners to retain information and apply it in real-world situations.

When designing online learning experiences, interactivity is critical for keeping learners interested and providing them with opportunities to practice their skills. Interactive elements, such as quizzes, simulations, and other interactive tools that reveal additional content, can help to break up long stretches of reading or listening and provide learners with a chance to apply what they've learned. However, as Karl Kapp discusses in this post, there is such a thing as "too much interactivity"

While it is good to use interactivities at the right time for the right reason, it's also important to design learning experiences that are engaging and foster a sense of community and connection among learners. Activities like hands-on application in real work, case studies, role-plays, discussion forums, collaborative projects, and feedback and coaching can help to build engagement and create a more dynamic learning environment.

Interactivity can give learners something to do - swiping, clicking, dragging, dropping - whereas engagement gives them something to think about, apply, change, value. When used, it is the quality (not quantity) of interactivities that can help support learner engagement. 

Making things interactive doesn't automatically make them engaging. And things need not be interactive to be engaging. Afterall, a book can be deeply engaging even though it involves a repetitive and simple 'interactivity' of turning the page :)

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Augmenting With AI

ChatGPT3 is the latest and most advanced language model from OpenAI.

As this post from BBC Science Focus magazine puts it, "ChatGPT3 is capable of generating human-like text and has a wide range of applications, including language translation, language modelling, and generating text for applications such as chatbots. It is one of the largest and most powerful language processing AI models to date, with 175 billion parameters."

I asked ChatGPT3 to write a short LinkedIn post about the difference between competencies and skills and the value of competencies for the future and received a 200-word response. The following image is a screenshot of an AI generated post using ChatGPT3. This was done in under 10 seconds; certainly not perfect but not a bad start.

This morning, I read an article by Professor Ethan Mollick from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania called "The Mechanical Professor". In his insightful article, he goes on a quest to "take a job I know well, and try to see how far I can automate it with AI." The #AIGenerated results are shocking and stunning. I almost want to do the same with my job of a learning and performance consultant and see how far I can go.

AI thought leaders Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee said in a Harvard Business Review article, “Over the next decade, AI won’t replace managers, but managers who use AI will replace those who don’t.”

If we can think of AI as #AugmentedIntelligence and not #ArtificialIntelligence and as a complement and not a replacement to human intelligence, we can start to imagine the innovative uses of AI to better serve humanity.

How are you going to augment your work with AI?

#AI #ChatGPT3 #OpenAI #Technology #AIForLearning #AIForEducation

Friday, December 2, 2022

How to Become an Instructional Designer - The Grind is not Glamorous

A few weeks ago, I stumbled across a powerful 4-minute lesson on filmmaking where, Casey Neistat, a YouTube personality, filmmaker, and co-founder of the multimedia company, Beme, said:

"The grind is not glamorous."

- Casey Neistat in "Filmmaking is a Sport" (Context starts @1:33; phrase @1:49)

It isn't anything new or something others haven't said before. But these five words say more than their worth when it comes to understanding and managing expectations around building expertise.

Over the last few years, perhaps triggered by the pandemic, there has been an uptake of people wanting to join the learning/training industry. Teachers are looking to transition from teaching children to training adults and folks from other related industries such as media and User Interface Design are looking to explore how best to make their way into the field of learning experience design. And to address this growing need, there are articles, posts, videos, and a range of individuals and consulting firms that are sharing their version of the steps to become an instructional designer.

Some wonderful people from the L&D industry have provided specific tips and strategies to build a career in the field of instructional design. Some of those resources provide a fairly decent picture of what it takes to become an instructional designer. There is a good focus on the skill set including technical and technological skills and there is also a lot of discussion around the glamour behind the job - good salary, fancy titles, flexible work arrangements, awards and recognition, career progression, etc.

However, the one thing that I find missing in many of those articles, blog posts, videos, and webinars is the gap between describing what expertise looks like versus describing what it takes to develop it.

Few people talk about the 'rougher' side of how to become an instructional designer and how it takes solid, grinding work to get to the glamorous part. Yes, there are opportunities to be creative, but there can also be endless days of monotonous work. Yes, there are a variety of projects but there can also be years of doing the same thing for the same client or doing the same thing for different clients. Yes, there are rewards but there can also be mistakes with serious consequences.

So, what is this process of developing expertise and why is it not glamorous?

Developing expertise is not simple and there is no mess-free way to do it. No two people develop expertise in the same way and the struggle is real. One cannot become an Instructional Designer only by gathering certificates, attending conferences and webinars, learning software tools, and collecting other 'shiny' stuff. It is the everyday, so-called, boring things that Instructional Designers do - like stakeholder communication, project planning, content research, needs, task, audience, and content analysis, instructional writing, etc. that yield the results. The routine stuff in an Instructional Designer's job can sometimes be predictable and monotonous. But it is important to do the so-called boring stuff and keep doing it well over a long period in order to become successful. It is the days, weeks and years of doing basic things right - every time - that have a compounding effect on developing expertise. But it takes more than experience; it also needs time and continuous feedback.

Author of New York Times bestseller Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman says, "True intuitive expertise is learned from prolonged experience with good feedback on mistakes."

Patty Shank describes in this article how, "Expertise takes sustained, deliberate practice in the tasks of expertise over time."

Mary Myatt describes in her article, "If everything is easy, it is hard for learning to take place. Expertise comes through the struggle of not knowing everything, having sufficient support and making sense of it on our own terms"

While the 10,000-hour rule on developing expertise widely promoted in popular literature has been dismissed and debunked, there is something to be said about the value of and importance of the grind.

The grind is not glamorous but without it, there is no glamour.

Photo by: Taruna Goel