Avoid “Crisis of Emptiness” in eLearning – Tip #16

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Studying in eLearning can be lonely. In fact, it can leave learners feeling empty and isolated.

William Isaacs wrote in his book Dialogue and the Art of Thinking Together (Doubleday, 1999), that many of us fail to have satisfying conversations. The initial frustration is what may be called “crisis of emptiness.” This is the early part of the conversation where people engage in the usual impersonal and meaningless chatter.

Isaacs is writing about face to face conversation. However, the same crisis is apparent in eLearning courses. It starts when we write in impersonal tones and factual content omitting valuable human elements.

One technique in eLearning design is to create a “built-in learner self-conversation.” It may sound strange to ask learners to have to talk to themselves and respond to their own conversations. However, self-conversation is a normal behavior and aids the learners’ thinking and enable them to find meaning in the content.   

eLearning Self-Conversation – A Lesson on “Arguments”

Preview the link and eLearning demo. Then answer this question:

How do we introduce the learner to the conversation


 The demo here is presented with the permission of Ashford University.

 Tips on Designing eLearning Self-Conversation

We will be discussing more of the tips in the Story-Based Technical and Compliance eLearning Design Workshop.

  1. Use a story that is related to the content. In the demo above, we used a decision on the safest way to go to the garage.
  2. Ask questions of learners to help them consider options.
  3. Ask the learner to discover how their choices compared to unknown or hidden events or aspects of the story.
  4. The final step is where learners have a self-conversation. The learners could ask themselves these questions:
a. Why did I choose that option?
b. How does my thought and response match or misalign with the hidden events?
c. What does this mean to me?
To avoid “crisis of emptiness” in your eLearning, try injecting learners’ self-conversation.
Ray Jimenez, PhD

Vignettes Learning
“Helping Learners Learn Their Way”http://storytakes.com/output/4585/1327/index.html