Monday, October 26, 2015

Building Irresistible Engagement in the Age of Distraction: Part 1- Starting the Fire!

In this digital age where so many online and real life stimuli compete for our attention, there is a need to define and focus on what will engage our learners in a consistent and meaningful way in immersive E-Learning. What we need to do is to metaphorically speaking, "start a fire" in online education. When you consider the characteristics of a fire, you can see how this might apply to immersive E-Learning. Consider these points:

  • People are drawn to fire. When they look at it, it engages their attention for long periods of time without any external motivation being applied.
  • People looking at a fire often lose track of time; it consumes their interest
  • The fire initiates more than just the intellect but also the emotions, imagination and creative impulses of  a person. Within the fire, our mind sees and interprets which allows our imagination to flow
  • The fire may also stimulate the necessary physiological conditions that lend themselves to personal introspection.

"How does this relate to building irresistible engagement? "

In order to answer this question, we need to be fully aware of the problem that exists with 21st century learners today.

The Problem of Learning in Both the Corporate and Formal Education Environments

We are all products of our education. Whether you are a CEO of a Fortune 500 company or an esteemed university professor of an ivy league university, it is our life long education that has shaped us to what we are today and continues to direct the way that we think about things today that make up our personal and professional life. Throughout our educational lives, we have placed our trust in those who have structured our learning and put forth a vision of learning to guide those who were the designers. However, during this time of trust, perhaps we forgot to ask an important question, best expressed by the Latin phrase:

"Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?"

Even in this 21st century, who is watching the guardians of education? We are products of education systems that formalized regimentation, conformity, and standards that the guardians of education said were important to healthy citizenship and would benefit all people. Yet, after several centuries, we still have illiterate masses in many countries, poverty, illness, wars and gross socio-economic disparities. 
"If education was to be the great equalizer, what went wrong?"

Educators and Trainers: The Paradox

Educators and trainers are some of the most intelligent and gifted people tasked with empowering the educational growth of learners but the simple truth is that educational and corporate organizations have grossly ignored or squandered the intellectual capital of these individuals. Instead of nurturing their talents, they have sought to control, micro-manage and task their time in such a way that these talents can not grow and like a healthy plant encircled by weeds, they wither and uncritically comply with their directives. How many L&D departments have been financially neutered as a result of a lack of vision?

Sir Kenneth Robinson is correct in stating that public education has systematically downplayed the importance of creativity to an enriched education and now that our societies are seeking to foster innovation both in the corporate world and formal education, we are faced with generations who have been systematically conditioned to keep buried any creative impulses unless called upon to be creative. This uncritical adherence to the dictates of the overseers of education has resulted in a generation that struggles to think for themselves without direction. This uncritical obedience was dramatically demonstrated in an experiment by a Yale Psychologist, Stanley Milgram in July 1961.


Building Irresistible Engagement in the Age of Distraction: Starting the Fire

Recognizing what we are up against, we need to build a fire of change in E-Learning both in the corporate and formal education environment. We have to be honest with each other and admit that the frameworks for our thinking about education need to change because they are not working and we are squandering a valuable resource that is found in this generation and in the coming generation. These generations are disconnecting from their education because they recognize that nothing of substance has changed in the vision and purpose of education. We need to take the responsibility of starting that fire of change and that begins with all of us who are professionals in this area going out of our way to put the word out and seek to develop collaborative networks based on a new vision and purpose of education.

So, to do my part, if you think that the points I am making are valid and should be discussed, share them globally using whatever social media at your disposal. Put a link to this blog on your website to spread the word. Conversations can't happen unless there is more than one person taking part in the conversation.

Next...Specifics on how to create and nurture the fire of irresistible engagement for learners

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