Out with the New: The return to the “old media”

7 Sep

I was really fascinated to read Clive Shepherd’s blog post on “Why video trumps e-learning” as it touched upon what I’ve been doing recently, returning to the “old media” of comic strips.

In the blog post, Clive makes a very convincing argument on how video is “more engaging, more versatile and less impersonal” than e-learning, pointing out that “we’ll see an even greater use of video in the workplace.” Clive adds that while “there are some niches where e-learning is irreplaceable,” he won’t be unhappy “to see other media come alongside.”

As Clive concludes, the increasing use of video is “just another turn of the circle” in the history of corporate training (video as a medium for training came to prominence in the 1980s/1990s, however, it must be noted that these days it is significantly easier to create training videos). For me, driving this increased use of video is the desire of learners to have quick and easy access to information. This desire is shaping my instructional design decisions.

For example, I was recently tasked with turning some complex call flow diagrams of a communication system into training material. After talking with the staff using the communication system, I found out that they hardly use our intranet to find out information (as one staff member said “the intranet involves too many clicks”). So instead of creating an e-learning module that would never be viewed, I started to think about creating training material that would be quick to find and easy to review.

Oddly, my thoughts on the design of the original e-learning module soon evolved into something more old media, comic strips. I had been inspired by Cathy Moore’s elearning branching example, and was thinking about using a similar model. However, instead of using e-learning, I decided to reject the new media and go old school – a printed comic strip.

The feedback largely has been positive. Staff can quickly grab the printed comic strip and find out the information that they need to know. For me, the process has made me rethink creating training material in the twenty-first century. Perhaps it’s time to return to the old media.

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