Take it away, and what do you have?

A fantastic end to the week … a discussion in and around the impact of learning design on the student experience. While there are so many aspects to this short discussion I had with a couple of colleagues, the main thrust of this post is about the ‘fluff’ that’s often added around the core information and resources, and what it actually looks like when you take the ‘fluff’ away.

Then we talked about watching music videos without the sound, and whether you can accurately identify the part of the song you’re watching … then we progressed to the stripped out music, and what can be added and how it changes, well, everything!

Do you remember this spoof Jagger/Bowie music video? Originally it was a 1985 hit (yes, I’m old enough to remember it on the radio & Top of the Pops), but some genius has removed the music and dubbed the murmurs, scratching, grunts, etc. Watch and enjoy below 9(or those interested, here’s the original).

The point we were making is that are we putting (too much?) emphasis on the presentation and detract from the actual, original and intended message? Yes, there are a whole heap of different ‘tools’ and ‘styles’ we as learning designers can use to present materials and resources, but does it actually matter?

We always hear the nightmare stories of students being given a PDF as their learning resource, some of us have actually seen this in courses we’ve taken too. Without context and a purpose there is nothing really here other than ‘read this and learn/remember it’. But the value here is the content, and the student still needs to read it, digest it, and apply that knowledge. As a learning designer we should be working the context and purpose into the ‘activity’: provide the student with the purpose and possible aspects they need to focus on, then read and inwardly digest. There may even be some form of discussion or ‘test’ to see what they’ve retained, but it’s not essential.

Therefore, take the context and purpose away (the music), and does the resource stand up on it’s own?

Image source: achelms4 (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)