An important lesson can be drawn from a recent Dr. Oz show for Instructional Designers.

I was watching Dr. Oz this week. He had a panel of medical professionals on who wanted to convince viewers they didn’t need to ask for thyroid guards when they got Mammograms. It seemed the opposing argument really came down to the fact this “gives technicians one more thing to do” and sometimes might interfere with the image causing the mammogram to have to be redone.

I watched for a half hour as Dr. Oz asked leading question after leading question as to why they even have the guards to provide patients. After about a half hour, one doctor finally conceded it was because patients asked for them. Dr. Oz raised his hands and said, “Hallelujah! That’s it!” and went on to explain that if patients are worried that they can get thyroid cancer from the excess radiation, then they need those fears heard and addressed or they won’t get mammograms – whether it’s true or not. The medical professionals still didn’t get it though.

At this point, Dr. Oz gets more intense, trying to explain that we don’t really know how 10 years from now the relation between thyroid cancer risk and radiation from mammograms might turn out, so as long as patients are worried, those worries must be addressed. They still didn’t get it. They continued to try and convince the audience there was no danger.

The lesson is this: it doesn’t really matter if an instructional designer’s client’s perception of what he or she needs is right or not – if it has a strong feeling attached to it (especially fear), then it needs to be heard and addressed as a legitimate concern.


Spring is Here!

April 24, 2010

It’s official – spring is here and my class is coming to an end. We have a new picture, as promised! A new creature has come to the lake this year, a large white swan. Our dog, Lex, isn’t quite sure what to make of it. You can see the curiosity in his perked up ears; how he wishes he could go check it out but has been too well trained to do so. Fortunately, I’ve been trained to pursue curiosity. As I continue to do so, I intend to continue the blog, sharing what I come across, adding links, suggested sites, and an RSS feed. It’s been a great start – thanks Dr. Bonk!


I saw a connection this week as the World is Open class focused on the learners of the 21st century who live in an era where learning is open, accessible, and shared.

Post-Modern Era Shifts and Web 2.0
As we’ve entered the Post-Modern Era and made shifts from an Industrial Age to a Technological Age, we’ve seen huge shifts in how people process information for learning and how we understand how that happens. For the purpose of this post, that means less value in linear, logical oriented teaching and more learner-centered, experiential learning. Less trust in experts and more need for “guides on the side.” The highly interactive Web 2.0 provides the potential for learners to learn on their own and from one another more easily and effectively than ever before which brings me to qualitative research.

Qualitative Research
Not qualitative research really, but a post got me thinking from a student in my qualitative research about what sounds like an awesome publically-funded learner-centered school she teaches at which takes in kids who haven’t succeeded in the traditional school systems (as well as other posts from students whose research centers around at-risk kids). This made me wonder why these programs always seem to be offered to the at-risk kids, and you don’t see them in the traditional system.

I suspect it’s because the traditional system doesn’t want these kids, and the other kids are well controlled in the traditional system so why offer them anything different? That makes me think of Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers in which he makes the case that had the opportunities available to people like Bill Gates been widely available to many kids, we wouldn’t have one Bill Gates success story but an exponential number of similar ones.

Working Learners
All that brings me to the working learners whom we read about in an article by Louis Soares in which he calls for accommodations to be made by the government worker training systems, colleges, and credentialing systems to adjust for learners who work in order to produce an economically strong workforce.

By the lens through which I see things, the current systems aren’t moving well out of the Modern Era fast enough, and a big part of that is our credentialing system. When a learner wants to learn, s/he usually finds a way (often outside the existing systems). As we have seen an explosion in open learning online, I believe learners will continue to seek out what they need to learn and the ways we credential people is going to have to match that rather than setting up a system and then developing the learner-system to fit those requirements as we’ve done in the past.

I believe great opportunity exists for businesses to form who lead learners through all the resources available to them to become skilled for careers without ever setting foot in a traditional credentialing institution. Millions of homeschoolers have already been doing this widely for decades. I’m going to be keeping that need in mind as I work through this semester.


January 11, 2010

Welcome The World is Open classmates (as well as the 2 or 3 other people who may read this blog occasionally).

The picture is the winter view from our deck and will change with the seasons.

When this little experimental journey is complete (in April 2010), the snow will have melted, the ice will be gone, and I will have:

  • oriented myself to blogging
  • commented extensively on how web technology is revolutionizing educational opportunities
  • fulfilled a class requirement for Dr. Curt Bonk’s The World is Open Indiana University course (based on his book)