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You’re a What?

September 22, 2011

David Byrne is a bit of a hero of mine. He was the lead singer of the art-school punk band Talking Heads, which he foundedDavid Byrne in 1976. As well as being a songwriter and musician, he is now also a writer, film director, choreographer, product designer, visual artist and more.

Ideas seemingly explode from his mind and manifest themselves in different physical or digital forms. The form they take is very much secondary to the process of creation. He doesn’t think, “I’m a songwriter, therefore all my ideas must be expressed as a song.” Instead he gives his imagination free rein and, having created something, choses the best form for it to take.

As learning designers we can learn a lot from this approach. Now, I’ve always disliked the job title ‘instructional designer’ – it is elitist, in that you need to be in our industry to know what it means; it’s too narrow in it’s definition – the design of instruction usually in the form of elearning courseware, and it makes a highly creative, enjoyable job sound downright dull and boring.

We should instead see ourselves as learning experience designers. Such a job title encompasses video, computer games, mobile apps, alternative reality games, workshops, coaching and yes, elearning courseware – really any form that a learning experience could take. We should be able to design for any of these formats.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. September 22, 2011 1:33 pm

    Totally agree Rob. Instructional gives the wrong signal. We should be designing learning experiences.

    Walt Disney, my hero, called his Disneyland workers ‘cast’. That’s what they were to the Disneyland experience.

    • September 22, 2011 2:27 pm

      I’m very interested in user experience design at the moment. I think we could learn a lot from it. Instructional design = the design of elearning courseware and we need to move beyond this paradigm.

  2. September 22, 2011 3:12 pm

    Hi Rob,

    Hear Hear!!!

    I wrote a blog post on just this point a few weeks back and got some varied responses on the subject

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