Posted by: talesfromtheid | April 26, 2008

This Month’s “Big Question”

The Big QuestionEach month, the Learning Circuits Blog asks “The Big Question.” This month, the question is “What would you like to do better as a learning professional?

My answer is, I would like to get better at responding to clients who set direction or request designs that are not in the best interest of their learners. Many clients think primarily in terms of content presentation and not in terms of generating meaningful learning activities. When clients request e-learning that is barely more than a narrated PowerPoint presentation, or have a vision for an instructor led course in which the instructor drones on for 7 or 8 hours while working her way through 500 PowerPoint slides, giving the client what he wants is not in the best interest of his learners. Yet, it can be very difficult to educate clients quickly enough to give them the necessary insight as to why what they’re asking for is suboptimal. When clients feel (rightly or wrongly) that they are “under orders” from higher management (usually not present at the meeting), the task can be very difficult. You have to somehow simultaneously educate the client and convince him that his boss will be ok with a more ambitious (and effective) design. Depending on the relationship between the client and his boss, and the culture of their organization, this may or may not be possible. When it’s not, it puts the instructional designer in a tough position. I would like to get better at avoiding that position.

In fact, I’d love to hear how you solve this problem. If you have an approach that’s working for you, please use the comment link, below, to share it.

Let’s start a conversation!



  1. You might start by sharing the Beyond Bullets research that is based in making business presentations more learner centered and from there jump to more education-oriented findings on learner centered results.

  2. Thanks honoria. I wasn’t familiar with Beyond Bullets, but thanks to your tip, I just checked out Cliff Atkinson’s original Beyond Bullets blog, and followed the link there to his newer Beyond Bullet Points web site. It’ll probably take me some time to work through the large number of posts he’s got there. But thanks for the tip, it looks interesting!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: