Getting Out of the Dump

Instructional Design Tips
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A common practice in the world of corporate training is what we affectionately call the “information dump.” You might know what I’m talking about—the courses that are so text heavy and dense that you lose the learner on page two. These types of online courses give so much information that doesn’t appear relevant to the learner that in many cases, it probably does more harm than good. So how can you get out of the dump?

Here at Allen we take a consultative approach with our clients where we sort through information and keep only the most important concepts and ideas that learners need to understand in order to meet the company’s goals and objectives. These concepts and ideas are then placed into a relevant context that helps learners to value these ideas. We do this by designing scenarios, custom practice activities, and simulations that introduce learners to the new concepts and move them from the abstract information to concrete day-to-day decisions, tasks, and positive change.

Let’s look at it another way. Let’s say you want to introduce your learner to a set of tools to prepare them for the changing climate of their work. If the learner is currently working in the heat of sun, they will appreciate tools such as sunglasses, a hat, and sunscreen, as they can most likely see the relevance of these tools. But if the winter storms haven’t come yet and you continue to give them tools they see as irrelevant for their current situation—such as a coat, mittens, scarf, snow shovel, and rain poncho— they tune out and you’ve lost them. You can make learners sit through an information dump, but you can’t make them internalize it or change their behavior (see comic strip).

Resist the urge to dump information and instead provide learners with just-in-time corporate training opportunities where they can see the relevance of what they’re learning. Instruct them on what they need now and save the winter learning for later on.

Find more information about our custom training.

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  1. Tom Strawn

    Nice job Julie! Sounds very much like some of the key elements of Adult Learning Theory – beginning with the learning having value, application and relevancy. I am sure you would agree that the learners will evaluate what is being provided using this criteria real fast.

  2. I think it really comes down to how you present the criteria to your students. Everyone has their own process on how to absorb the information and data.