Sparks Learning Design – Igniting Learners to Think; Washing Hands Vignettes

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Roger Schank , author of “Tell Me a Story says People’s brain have incomplete stories and the brain wants to complete stories, hence, it is always story searching, making, sorting, creating, matching, adding, etc.

Jürgen Schmidhuber also essays a similar thought – ”We learn from the past; self-correct; single idea.

In essence, stories are what keep conversations going. They create sparks in our wired brains that causes us to recognize certain events we can relate back to, in our personal real-life situations. Listeners begin to share experiences and learn from one another.

In learning, I firmly believe that if the learner does not have an interpretation of the story, he or she has very low involvement or engagement with the story. Consequently, they may not discover what you want them to learn.

This is the essence of creating Vignettes – small, narrow, pockets of topics where content learning is strategically embedded.

The heart of a story in learning is to place the person in a real-life, emotionally-charged, shocking, moving experience. I call this the Sparks Learning Method of Content Design.

Please click to view enlarged and complete image

Benefits to the instructional designers and learning professionals alike:
• It saves time and effort since they do not have to spell out all the details.
• Short vignettes will cause the spark that trigger reflection/thinking through.
• It will be very relevant to the learner because it is a relatable event.
• It will be effective since learners interact with the story
• Learning is short and faster

How to get started:

(1) Select a small, narrow topic (e.g. Washing Hands for Safety)

(2) What do we know now of this topic?
– What are the learners’ complete stories about the topic?
– What are their incomplete stories about the topic ?

(3) What real-life event or story triggers, connects, relates to what we know now
of this topic?

(4) What is the new version of the story on this topic?
– What is the new discovery and new learning?

Below is a concrete example for you:

In the vignette “Washing Hands”, we look at a simple requirement not diligently followed. Handwashing is so common that people take them for granted – whether at home or in the work environment. Oftentimes, we witness “little” issues at work such as skipping protocols and standard operating procedures, or when teaching new employees the expected routines, pulling the old staff back to good work habits and so on. All these small transgressions may seem negligible but can spell dangerous consequences and create critical problems for the entire company or even in our personal lives.

Reflect on the scenario from various angles—as a problem concerning standard operating procedures, discipline, ethics, safety, or other matters you can think of—and answer the question at the end. Click here and watch the vignette for “Washing Hands”.

How to Use the Vignette

Although the situation presented is specific, this vignette covers a wide range of topics, including conflict-resolution, work ethics and other management-related issues. This vignette is very useful for eLearning sessions that require your learners’ undivided attention, especially those that deal with specific situations that need to be resolved in a timely manner. Use it as part of your lessons or as a post-training test. Face-to-face, eLearning or webinar, this vignette is a sure way to push your learners to the EDGE.
Vignettes are captivating and highly effective learning tools that can power up your classroom training, eLearning activities and social learning communities. Click here to view “Washing Your Hands”.

Join us and tell us what you think about the vignettes and share with us if you have had similar experiences. Your feedback and insights are highly valued. Also feel free to send in your suggestions, comments, improvements or topics that are of interest to you. This can help us greatly in coming up with better vignettes, especially on topics that are of great relevance to you.

Ray Jimenez, PhD
Vignettes Learning
“Helping Learners Learn Their Way”

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