Information is not the answer

Design experiences, not information

Every learning leader has faced the dilemma of being asked to cram too much information into a training course because of a customer’s belief that “more information is better learning.”  You know the drill, and it usually starts something like this, “Hey Jim, thanks for designing that course for us. I was thinking, we should also add…[insert 438 data points, factoids, and might-use administrivia here] to our course.” 

It’s the data dump. The fact frenzy. The overview overkill.  It’s just difficult sometimes for folks to believe that less information could lead to more (and better) learning. 

Well, today we’re going to make the case for shifting the focus away from information altogether. Here, designing guru Cathy Moore makes a powerfully simple case for shifting from designing information to designing experiences.

Can’t access YouTube? Here’s a Flash version.

Writing effective scenario questions

Want to increase the quality of your assessment questions? Think stories!

Scenario-based evaluation questions help the learner to really think about the content, not just regurgitate facts or data. Check out this easy plan for constructing good scenario questions:

Hendrich’s ABCD Model for Constructing Effective Scenario Questions

·        Actor/Audience – Who is in the situation? Who is involved?

·        Behavior – What situation are they in? What are they trying to or unable to do?

·        Condition – Under what circumstances or context is the actor behaving or hoping to behave?

·        Dilemma/Decision – What decision must the actor make? What dilemma is s/he facing?

Examples of ABCD Question Stems

Below are some example questions which include Actor(s)/Audience (A), Behavior (B), Condition (C), and Dilemma/Decision(D). Note that the order of presentation of each component is not important.

  • Dr. Chang is considering prescribing a blood pressure medication for Jim, who has a comorbid liver disorder. What class of medications is Dr. Chang likely to choose?
  • Meryl stopped taking her antidepressant, because she did not like the sexual side effects. What class of medications was Meryl likely taking?
  • Ernesto has not found any success with two different SSRIs and is worried that he’ll never find relief.  What might Dr. Cerilski tell him?

Now it’s your turn…try writing an ABCD scenario question today!

Free Microsoft eLearning Development Tool

Free Microsoft eLearning Development Tool

Microsoft has rolled out a FREE tool called LCDS. LCDS is an eLearning development tool that Microsoft is using to develop their multimedia driven eLearning. It can output to Flash, SilverLight, SCORM, HTML and more…


About LCDS from Microsoft:
The Learning Content Development System, or LCDS, is a forms-based tool that anyone can use to create e-learning content. By using the LCDS, you can:
• Author rich, interactive content by completing the easy-to-use LCDS forms
• Preview your course at any stage of development
• Set up a course structure that you can easily rearrange at any time

Learning styles

Looking for information on learning style inventories?

After years of facilitating learning styles workshops, I offer you the following perspectives/ideas:
 1. The Learning Styles Online inventory is good. The “Learning and techniques” section that they provide as feedback for the quiz results is solid, and the detailed combinations of style results are powerful.
2. The Hay Group has developed the robust “Kolb Learning Style Inventory,” based on David Kolb’s ground-breaking thinking, doing, experiencing, reflecting. The inventory and detailed individual and group feedback reports cost $15.00 per participant. This inventory is empirically validated and is widely used among corporate training groups. Check out the PowerPoint pdf they have on their information page.

3. A free quiz offered by AES does a very nice job of targeting participants’ learning styles and offering concrete action steps to help optimize learning.

4. VARK (Visual, Aural, Read/Write, Kinesthetic) is an often-used system that provides good feedback and tangible recommendations. A very detailed and more instructive feedback report is available for $28/participant. Whether you use VARK or not, the FAQ page ( on the vark-learn site has some useful answers to common questions your participants may be asking.

One suggestion, regardless of the inventory you choose…

Map out” participants’ results on a chart the whole class can see. People love to compare their own learning styles to that of their peers. This referential data provdes an answer to the eternal “how do I fit in to this human puzzle?” question. I have used PowerPoint slides to map out peoples scores as data points. You also can take a sheet of newsprint and draw a grid to map out scores using participants’ initials. It can be instructive for trainers to see any trends that a particular group might demonstrate.

I would be delighted to visit with you further about learning styles if you think it might be useful. Feel free to contact me at any time to discuss.

Take care, and happy learning!

Susan Hendrich 




Visual storytelling

Connect Using Visual Storytelling

It’s time for another golden e-Learning design tip! Today we’ll focus on visual storytelling. 

We’ve heard over and again that the power of visual imagery is unbeatable in instructional design. Yet, we struggle to find and use images that accurately capture and evoke the kind of emotion that connects audiences with the story we are trying to tell.  Perhaps you’ve seen the famed YouTube video series, “In Plain English,” where the CommonCraft geniuses show us (rather than tell us) the essence of Web 2.0 technologies. It is this kind of visual storytelling that captures our attention and ignites our imagination.

So, how can you show, rather than tell, your story?

Now, here’s your homework:

Take a look at Veronica Rusnak‘s Article on “Visual Storytelling and Moments in the Human Condition.”

“Remember: story, not data. Rather than talk about your topic, find a way to show it.”

Looking forward to your ideas!

Susan Hendrich