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Emotionally Evocative Design

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Sun Sep 18 2005

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For many an Instructional Designer, design follows analysis, with its main function being to identify all the important things that need to go into a course. Its end product is a curriculum, syllabus, or blue-print to build the learning module on.

Next comes development, which adds content so as to give depth to the end product of design. This mainly consists of the adding of "information."

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Context is also used to add a third dimension to the design puzzle -- layers of activity so that the learners gain a variety of viewpoints, thus allowing them to gain experience with the information in a relative safe manner.

This mix of design, development, and context should theoretically help the learners build their knowledge and skill bases. Yet this combination often fails because it leaves one important piece of the puzzle -- Emotionally Evocative Design.

While Instructional Designers normally are quite good at ensuring that the important parts that build content, such as objectives and outcomes, are entered into the design equation; the total design process needs a second layer that captures the emotions of the learners so that they actually want to engage with or use the content.

Engagement does not have to be that complex as it is simply a means of inviting the learners' emotions into the environment. Emotions are the reason that we do anything -- without them we would simply be walking zombies. Emotions are what adds zest to life...to include learning

For example, a good metaphor invites the user to reflect over the information by asking her to relate the new information with a past experience. A good picture invites two senses into the mix. A problem begs for closure. A critical piece of information delivered "just-in-time" is utter relief.

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What have you done lately to ensure that your designs are emotionally evocative?

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