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Integrity of Interactions

It’s my favorite time of year! Let’s kick it off with another scary story.

You wake up confused. The sliver of twilight through the window indicates it could be early morning or late evening. How long have you been asleep?

You reach to your nightstand for your phone. Not only is your phone missing, but your nightstand is also not there. You shoot bolt up-right at this confusion to discover yourself on the couch where you fell asleep staring at your computer. A feeling of dread washes over you as you realize you have the same problems you had when you fell asleep; however, your nap just cost you another hour, an hour you didn’t have to spare.  

You put your hands on your keyboard to begin typing, but you stop. You pace, make tea, look at twitter, listen to a podcast, play a game, and try to bring yourself to typing again. On your screen, the empty space on your lesson plan reflects in your glasses as if mocking you for calling yourself an instructional designer. Deep down, you know, if you could just write this one interaction it would all fall together, but the thought just won’t come. How can it take two days to write two sentences?!

This horror story is loosely based on a real experience I had this weekend while developing a new eLearning module. Our client is seeking creative solutions to a straightforward and uncomplicated topic, and I was all out of ideas. I had my handy lesson plan template, a good structure, well-written objectives, and all that was left to do was design a few super engaging interactions to support the materials, but nothing generated in the old noggin.

I started my lesson plan outline on Friday afternoon. When I couldn’t come up with the first interaction, I skipped it like a test question and moved on to the next. By Saturday I had filled out the entire lesson plan outline with the exception of the first interaction. I looked for inspiration everywhere, and I felt defeated when my progress seemed to come to a screeching halt Saturday afternoon.

I sat down at my computer several times throughout the weekend. Finally, Sunday night, as I prepared dinner for a few friends, I remembered an email from eLearning heroes I had received recently. There was a slider interaction example I found inspiring when I reviewed and I wanted to find an application in an upcoming training. I ran back to my office to search for the email and found it immediately. The inspiration I had been looking for was out there, I just had to find it! It took time, and it was totally worth it.  Once inspired, I designed the interaction and closed my computer with enough time to finish making dinner before our company arrived.

As L&D professionals, I want to remind you all that this isn’t always easy. There are times we stare at our screens, scratch our heads, and dig through every resource at our disposal to find the inspiration we need. It is okay to dig deep to find what you need to create something on which you are willing to stake your reputation.  Sometimes it takes two days to write two sentences. Just make sure they are the best sentences you can possibly write. Your time staring at the wall will be well spent.

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