Learning the Art of Content Creation from the Master Creator

(How to Design, Develop, and Implement Courses and Trainings)

According to the Genesis I,

God first created the heaven and the earth. The earth was created formless and there was darkness all around, so God said, “Let there be light,” and then there was light. Then God named the light, Day, and the dark, Night. Then God made the sky before he rested. Then the next morning, he separated the dry land from the water on the earth. The land he called Earth, and the water, Seas. Thus, God continued to add more details to the world and after completing his work, on the seventh day he rested.

Are you wondering what I am talking about?

Well, I am talking about learning instructional design from the creator of the universe. Let us see how he created something as complex as our world, and something that would’ve worked just fine, if he hadn’t created man or...the blame-worthy woman who succumbed to the Satan’s awful trickery.

Note that God didn’t begin to detail out the world right on the first day. Also note how he moved a lot slower in the beginning. He worked with two huge chunks of content, to make the heaven and the earth, and then he drew a line between them in form of the sky to keep them separated. Next he named them. Do you see how careful he was? Our scientists no doubt have learned the scientific technique from God. Then God introduced more complexities into his creation, but he did so purely on the basis of need. He saw darkness on Earth and so he created light (and named it Day.) He didn’t include any redundancy into his design. Thus, he continued – and by the end of the seventh day, he had created this beautiful world, which’s been working just fine so far; and if we humans don’t mess it up for ourselves, it would continue to work smoothly for all eternity.

We can learn from the methods God employed to create our little learning experiences.

Five important steps in the content creation process may be distilled from this.

  1. Begin simple and small.
  2. Build and reinforce terminology.
  3. Establish Connections based on the Requirements.
  4. Increase content complexity as the course/training progresses.
  5. Allow concept-setting time for yourself and for your learners.

Begin Simple & Small
(God first created the heaven and the earth...)
This applies to the design process as well as to the output of your design activity. Don’t plunge into the details of the design document the moment you return from your Project Manager’s cabin. Relax. Find a blank sheet of paper. Add the Audience Profile and write the Course/Training Goal. Now reflect upon the competencies that the learner would need to successfully accomplish to the Course/Training Goal – write them down too. After getting it all together – begin to design. Once again, begin simple and small. Let the learner become acquainted with the content first.

Build & Reinforce Terminology
(...Then God named the light, Day, and the dark, Night...)
After helping the learners understand the basics, you need to make them comfortable with the terminology. Let them practice the terminology a little. Create short games and activities around it. Remember that if they become comfortable with the terminology, they’ll find it easier to climb when the gradient becomes steeper still. (Refer to Bloom’s Taxonomy – BL1.)

Establish (Schematic) Connections based on the Requirements
(...and there was darkness all around, so God said, “Let there be light,” and then there was light...)
Remember to probe the schema of your learners. Try to project their immediate needs and attempt to meet them through your content. Don’t add anything that your learner doesn’t need right then. For example, if the goal of your Portraiture Course is to “create recognizable portraits” don’t tell your learners about the differences in the pencils that may be used to create the portraits. You might want to tell them about it at the end of the program, but not in the middle. Right now, look for connecting the content with the learning needs of your audience.

Increase Content Complexity as the Course/Training Progresses
(...Thus, God continued to add more details to the world...)
Of course, your learner needs to accomplish the Course/Training Goal, and if the goal requires a higher-level skill, your course/training program will need more complex content. At this point in the training program, the learner is already confident of the basics, has learned to use the relevant terminology, and has experienced the overall relevance of the program. Now is the time to steer the learner into the arena of more complex concepts and fill in the details, which will now be a lot easier to understand.

Allow Concept-Setting time for yourself and for your learners
(...and after completing his work, on the seventh day he rested..)
Remember that even God decided to take a break after his work was done. You need to do the same. It will help you see the issues (if any) in your content and fix them in time. Your learners too need some concept-setting time. It’s a bad idea to end the class when the learner has just reached the learning goal. As the learner is new to the content, he or she would need some time to reflect upon it. This reflection time will help buttress the learning further as the learner could then get the doubts resolved and feel more confident and satisfied with the training program.

Let us learn from the Master Creator :)

- Author: Shafali R. Anand



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