aLearning Blog

Online Learning for Trade Associations

IDs Should Rule the World

Posted by Ellen on September 27, 2008

In all the time I’ve known them, my friends, colleagues, and mentors Karen Hairston and Wendy Farrell have asserted that Instructional Designers Should Rule the World. I agree, of course, for too many reasons to list in a brief blog post.

Instead, an example: vacation. I’m back from two weeks travelling to Acadia National Park on the coast of Maine. Purpose of the trip? Relax, do some great hiking, eat some lobster and blueberry pie, breathe the salt air, and not think about work.

If instructional design is at the heart of everything, then I can frame my objectives for vacation in the same way I would for a the educational objectives for a training session. Here goes.

At the end of this vacation, Ellen will be able to:

  1. describe how hiking the Beehive and Precipice led to higher levels of relaxation
  2. identify where to find the best lobster dinner on Mount Desert Island
  3. explain why the blueberry pie at the Quietside Cafe in Southwest Harbor is the best anywhere, anytime
  4. demonstrate at least one technique for “relaxing” and not thinking about work

My vacation was obviously educational for me — you could test me on all of the above, and I could deliver:

  1. Reaching the top of Mount Champlain after hiking the Precipice gives me a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. Expending the adrenalin to get to the top, then taking time to enjoy the view and mountain itself replenishes me, and that relaxes me.
  2. Lighthouse Inn, Seal Harbor. Make sure Judith makes it. Her presentation drew looks from all over the restaurant when the server brought the platter out.
  3. Mrs. Keen uses more blueberries than filler and her pie has a paper-thin crust, so when you bite into it, you get the taste of blueberries, not sugar or syrup. Order it slightly heated and a la mode (I recommend dark chocolate ice cream).
  4. When at the top of your chosen mountain, find a relatively flat surface on the rock, and sit or lie as comfortably as you can. Close your eyes. Take several slow, deep breaths. Focus on the sounds of the birds and the surf. Feel the warmth of the sun on your face. Tell yourself that you’ll want to be able to recall these sounds and smells, how the sun felt on your face and the rock felt against your back, when you get home. Spend as much time as you need doing this until nothing else is in your head when you open your eyes: the white clouds against a blue sky, green evergreen trees, a circling peregrine falcon, the distant sound of a lobster boat engine as traps are pulled and dropped back into the ocean.

I could do a full blog (maybe I will) about how hiking can be a metaphor for enabling and terminal objectives… another reason why instructional design is at the heart of everything we do, and why — by logical conclusion — instructional designers should rule the world.

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