My wife and I are foodies and only cook real favourites more than once. The rest of the time we experiment and over the years have built up quite a portfolio of recipes with comments about the end result.
The other day I noticed we had a bag of peaches in the freezer left over from a jam making session. I was wondering what inspiration dish I could make with them. So, I went to Google. There were plenty of search results with titles like, “how to make peach pie” so I picked one and clicked.
And then I remembered why I’ve started to hate looking up recipes on-line. I find myself presented with the history of peaches, how the ancient Magyars used to cook them, and how the author first discovered prunus persica (or yellow peaches). I was provided with pros and cons of 15 varieties of peaches and why freestone peaches were preferable for poaching as opposed to clingstone. After several minutes of reading, and lots of scrolling I found a simple recipe for a spiced peach dish with directions for assembly that I started out looking for.
Get real . . . I don’t need all this information to cook a simple dish.
However, this experience reminded me of the mistakes that first time learning designers make. Online learners have very little tolerance for what they perceive to be “nice to know” information. If they don’t understand the relevance of the information being presented, it’s very easy for them to tune out. Or, if you force them through the information, they can start to resent your whole presentation.
The author of the Google piece probably thought she was adding value by providing all of this background information, showing her expertise and giving me a reason to use her as my cooking expert. All she did do, was make me frustrated that I’d invested several minutes before I got what I was looking for.
So, when you’re designing your next Modlettes lesson make sure you think about how to connect with your learners. Is this information they really need to know or even want to know? If not, make it available as a non-compulsory piece of content that people can access if they want to. If they really do need to know this information, make sure it is presented in such a way that they want to know it.
This way, learners won’t resent the time spent in your session and could easily look forward to the next one.