THERE’S ONLY ONE THING THAT BEATS A GOOD STORY AND THAT’S BEING PART OF THE STORY
There is one activity that engages people even more than storytelling and that is a challenging problem to solve; something that tests our wits, that allows us to show what we can do; nothing impossibly hard, but not so easy that it insults our intelligence.
Every one of us can think of examples in which we’ve laboured into the night to meet a challenge; when we’ve been so ‘in the flow’ that we have forgotten about the need for sleep or sustenance: solving a puzzle, perhaps, programming a computer, developing a plan, making something, playing a game.
Compelling challenges provide us with the incentive and the opportunity to put our learning into practice and to revisit our assumptions and attitudes. In the context of learning content, these challenges might take the form of practice exercises, case studies, quizzes, scenarios, simulations and games. Challenges require the ability to interact, so you won’t find them in content such as podcasts and web articles, but you might find them in a blend alongside these more passive media.
The word ‘gamification’ is a monstrosity, but we should take it seriously, because plenty of people are finding great success by adding game elements to their interactive content: rising up through levels, leader boards, high scores, time constraints, competitions, winning badges and so on.
There are interesting examples of gamification in the following scenarios. Just follow the links to check them out:
- Lifesaver, an interactive film by Martin Percy, which teaches cardio-pulmonary resuscitation
- Connect with Haji Kamal, designed by Cathy Moore, which looks at the cultural issues soldiers face when interacting with local people
And that’s it, folks
We hope you’ve enjoyed discovering our six characteristics for compelling content, a distillation of hundreds of discussions we’ve had with learning professionals and media creatives over more years than we would like to admit.
Many of the recommendations we’ve made here require us to challenge convention and not be a corporate drone. You have to be a little brave to break away from the routine of just shoving information down people’s throats.
It will take some time to develop the skills but we’ve seen lots of people make this transformation successfully.