How would you design learning with an unlimited budget?

by Viv Cole on March 3, 2014

Recently I was given what many instructional designers would consider the best brief ever:

there’s unlimited budget, there’s no major urgency, just come up with something innovative and interesting. There had to be a catch, and there was –  it’s one of the dullest compliance topics imaginable for people in the insurance industry.

After the shock had worn off, I felt a mix of elation and fear. I was elated by the trust placed in me, but fearful of such a wide scope – almost like giving an artist a blank sheet of paper and asking them to draw something original (with the unspoken caveat: “but everyone needs to like it”).

The next challenge was how to make the subject matter interesting, whilst making best advantage of having a vast array of media available (theoretically). I don’t recall any best selling films, books, documentaries or games involving insurance contracts. It was clear that whistles and bells would not solve the problem on their own.

If I was n’t going to solve the problem logically, then a more fun alternative would be to solve it playfully. Thinking back to the Disney classic Mary Poppins: “In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun. You find the fun and ‘snap’ [click of fingers], the job’s a game…”, if there was a game about being an insurance broker what would it look like?

Usually jobs in professional/ financial services include one or more of these five common game elements:

  1. A race against time
  2. Selecting things and putting them in the right order
  3. Asking the right questions to uncover the information you need
  4. Deducing what the right answer is from limited information
  5. Accurately sorting things between different categories

And from this a treatment was born. Interestingly this treatment was not that expensive (simple is best), so hats off to the client who was brave enough to remove this constraint and therefore unleash far more creativity.

Another treatment came from the question: “If this topic was on a children’s TV show, how would it be handled?”.  But that’s a story for another day…

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