Designing for Thinking
- Design for Thinking: A Strategy for Effective Decision-Making in Instructional Design
- Reflections on D4T and its Implications: A Comprehensive Overview
- Terminology of Design for Thinking: A Glossary of Key Concepts
- Analyzing the Environment: A Crucial Phase in Design for Thinking
- Inertial Behaviors: Recognizing and Establishing Goals, Directions, and Priorities
- Thinking Operations: Making Decisions and Choices for Effective Learning Solutions
- ➡️ Central Problem: Identifying the Core Issue for Effective Instructional Design
- Collaborating with SMEs: Conducting Effective Meetings to Identify Challenges and Solutions
- Content Coding: Structuring Information in a Logical and Consistent Manner
- Learning Arc: Guiding the Design of Learning Solutions
- Case Study: Designing an Effective Credit Real Estate Course Using D4T
- Step-by-Step Guide to D4T: A Comprehensive Guide for Applying the Strategy in Your Projects
The Character Arc in Learning: Transforming Students through Stories
The character arc, also known as the character development, is a literary concept used to describe a character’s inner journey throughout a story, characterized mainly by a change in values. This transformation alters the way the character relates to the world.
If this sounds familiar to the experience of learning, it is not by chance. The oldest form of teaching and learning is by telling a story. Every time someone truly learns something, they undergo a change of place, from A to B. Some necessary characteristics in a story include the conscious desire (what they want and why), the object of desire (something tangible that they want to achieve), the unconscious motivation (what is really important to them and what they are willing to do to achieve it), the Achilles’ heel (their weaknesses and flaws), the moral imperative (the lesson they must learn to change), the arc (the journey they will have to undertake in the story), and the central theme (what the story aims to convey).
When analyzing learning solutions, we can notice the presence of some or all of these characteristics. Every company has an unconscious motivation that dictates its choices and expresses its values. However, this also reveals the company’s Achilles’ heel, its weaknesses that can sabotage any proposed solution.
Students, especially if the solution involves some kind of change or transformation, need to learn a new moral imperative, that is, a lesson they need to learn to adapt to the rules of the universe or suffer the consequences.
When we look at movies and television, it is easier to identify these characteristics. For example, in Breaking Bad, the main character, Walter White, starts as a high school chemistry teacher struggling with a serious illness while trying to financially support his family. His decision to become an illegal drug manufacturer initiates a downward spiral in which his wife leaves him, and his character goes from a morally responsible and timid person to a manipulative, dangerous, and power-hungry drug dealer.
By focusing on Walter White, we can further deconstruct the show, identifying his conscious desire (to make meth to pay for his cancer treatment), his object of desire (money from drugs), his unconscious motivation (to want to be respected), his Achilles’ heel (pride leads him to make decisions that hurt others), his moral imperative (to learn that power is not synonymous with respect), his two arcs (to embrace his flaws and abandon his need for respect), and the central theme (power corrupts everything you love).
But how can we apply this to learning? When a student is faced with a learning solution, they should be able to identify their conscious desire, what they want to learn, the object of their desire, the goal to be achieved, their unconscious motivation, their weaknesses, and the lesson they need to learn to change. Additionally, the learning solution should present a character arc, a learning journey that will take them from point A to point B.
To achieve this, the Instructional Designer must strive to create learning solutions that are attractive, captivating, and meaningful to the student. It is important that the learning solution tells a story that allows the student to identify with the main character and feel motivated to follow their learning journey.
For the learning solution to be successful, the student needs to feel invested in the story and the main character. They must care about what is happening and root for the character’s success. This will help keep them engaged and motivated to learn.
The character arc can also be used to help students connect with the subject matter they are learning. If they can see how the lessons they are learning apply to their own character arc, they may feel more motivated to learn.
For example, imagine a student who is learning mathematics and is having difficulty understanding the utility of the concepts they are learning. The Instructional Designer could create a story that shows how the main character uses these concepts to solve a problem in their own journey. This can help the student see the practical application of the subject matter they are learning and feel more motivated to learn.
In summary, the character arc can be a powerful tool for creating effective learning solutions. When used correctly, it can help students identify with the main character, connect with the subject matter they are learning, and feel motivated to learn. It is important that the Instructional Designer is aware of these characteristics when creating learning solutions and is always seeking ways to make them more attractive and meaningful to students.
By doing so, students will be able to clearly identify what they want to learn, why it is important, and how they can apply that knowledge in their lives. This will increase student motivation and engagement and ensure that they undergo a meaningful learning journey that transforms them from A to B.
The Central Problem: Developing an Effective Learning Curve in Instructional Design Projects
For an instructional designer to create an effective learning curve in Instructional Design projects, they must identify the central problem that the learning solution needs to solve. Therefore, it is essential to conduct a detailed analysis of the problem with subject matter experts and involved stakeholders.
Often, Instructional Design projects do not merely involve employee training but offer solutions to complex problems that involve several areas of an organization. An example of this can be seen in Case Studies, where the initial justification for the project was to create a Real Estate Credit course for agency employees, emphasizing the importance of the product for the client and their satisfaction.
The course will create Real Estate Credit for agency employees, emphasizing the importance of the product for the client and their satisfaction. The course will demonstrate the process of real estate credit, the importance of documentation in the process, and the correct procedures for sending it to the Real Estate Credit Unit for analysis and formalization promptly and in accordance with Normative Instructions, avoiding delays, rework, and client dissatisfaction.
However, after analyzing the problem with subject matter experts from the Real Estate Credit Unit, Commercial Unit, Corporate Management, and some agency employees, more critical points needing answers were identified, such as the workforce of the Real Estate Credit Unit that has decreased in recent years due to low demand, an increase in the real estate market in recent months, customers directed to use the service of Real Estate Correspondents to obtain all the necessary documentation from the client, seller, and property, new rules related to Real Estate Credit updated in Normative Instructions but not in the Internal Process Manual, physical folders used for sending processes to the Unit were printed over five years ago and contained even more outdated information, among others.
When we analyze the project’s objects and the problems it must solve, we arrive at a list that coincidentally fits almost perfectly with a Character Arc. Transposed, the problems become project characteristics.
- Project Objective (Conscious Desire): improve the real estate credit formalization process.
- Specific Goal (Desirable Object): improve the real estate credit formalization process.
- Constraints (Unconscious Motivation): no intention to increase the number of employees in any sector.
- Achilles’ heel: the existence of outdated and inconsistent information among the documentation and procedures used by different sectors.
- Moral Imperative: learn to formalize the process according to current norms to avoid rework and ensure customer satisfaction.
- Learning Solutions (Arc): employees must complete the EAD course with a 70% evaluation score, the course should be divided by sector and function, maintaining coherence of information and procedures, and all information should be updated and standardized.
- Central Problem (Central Theme): standardize the information and procedures of the Real Estate Credit process across all areas and ensure its correct execution.
The instructional designer needs to be aware that the learning solution is not always a course or training, but rather updating and correctly making the information available may be enough to generate the desired positive results. In many cases, it is necessary to identify the central problem that the learning solution needs to solve, as in the example of the Case Study - Real Estate Credit Course.
In this case, the Corporate University needed to create a Real Estate Credit course for agency employees, emphasizing the importance of the product for the client and their satisfaction. However, after analyzing the problem with subject matter experts from the Real Estate Credit Unit, Commercial Unit, Corporate Management, and some agency employees, more critical points needing answers were identified.
The workforce of the Real Estate Credit Unit decreased in recent years due to low demand while there has been an increase in the real estate market in recent months. Customers are directed to use the service of Real Estate Correspondents to obtain all the necessary documentation from the client, seller, and property, but the quality and speed of the correspondents’ service vary. New rules related to Real Estate Credit were updated in Normative Instructions, but not in the Internal Process Manual, and physical folders used for sending processes to the Unit were printed over five years ago and contained even more outdated information.
The agency employees sought information in the three documents according to personal preferences, while the Real Estate Credit Unit uses another order for document analysis, prioritizing compliance with those with a validity period. The analysts of the Real Estate Credit Unit return the entire process upon discovering any non-compliance, without analyzing all the documentation, and the agency employees believe that, by returning the process, the Unit completed the full analysis and send only the requested documentation.
When we analyze the objects of the project and the problems it must solve, we arrive at a list that fits almost perfectly with a Character Arc. The learning solutions include that employees must complete the EAD course with a 70% evaluation score, and the course should be divided by sector and function, maintaining coherence of information and procedures. All normative instructions, internal process manuals, and any material related to Real Estate Credit must be updated with the same information and processes. The central theme is to standardize the information and procedures of the Real Estate Credit process across all areas and ensure its correct execution.
However, it is essential to remember that the ideal solution is not always a course or training. The instructional designer needs to be aware that forces are exerting influence and pressure, and to decide on the best learning solution, they need to be aware of their existence to analyze and respond to these demands.
How To Identify the Central Problem
The process of identifying the central problem that a learning solution must solve is essential for the success of the project. The central problem is the fundamental challenge that the project will try to convey to the audience, and identifying it can help the learner to understand and interpret the solution more deeply.
To find the central problem, it is necessary to follow some important steps that will help the instructional designer to understand the business needs and student characteristics in order to identify the fundamental challenge and create an effective learning solution.
Here are the steps that should be followed to find the central problem:
- Identify the project objective: The project objective is the traditional learning objective that specifies which observable skills or knowledge the audience should have when they complete their learning experience. It is important to clearly identify this objective, as it will guide the development of the learning solution. It is what you want to achieve with the project.
- Define a specific goal: The specific goal is a goal that describes how the organization will benefit from the project. It is important to define a specific goal that can be measured and that shows how the project will help the company achieve its objectives.
- Identify the constraints: Any constraint (implicit or explicit) that may limit the scope, development, or application of the project must be identified. It is important to understand all the constraints to ensure that the learning solution can be successfully developed and applied. In short, it is identifying why the company wants this project and not others.
- Identify the vulnerabilities: Vulnerabilities refer to weak points, constraints, organizational culture, or business environment that may cause problems or difficulties for the project. It is important to identify these vulnerabilities so that they can be addressed during the development of the learning solution.
- Define the learning imperative: The learning imperative is the outcome that learning solutions must deliver to learners, regardless of any personal benefit or individual interest of any involved party. It is important to clearly define the learning imperative so that the learning solution can be developed appropriately.
- Create a list of learning solutions: After identifying the project objective, specific goal, constraints, vulnerabilities, and learning imperative, it is time to create a list of learning solutions that will help people practice the most difficult aspects of behavior. These are just notes and not complete solutions.
- Identify the central problem (Central Theme): After creating a list of learning solutions, it is time to identify the central problem that the learning solution must solve. To do this, it is necessary to analyze all the collected information and identify the fundamental challenge that the project will try to convey to the audience.
What happens if I identify the wrong problem?
Narrative is an ancient art that has existed for centuries and is capable of capturing the imagination of people of all ages and cultures. A good story has the ability to entertain, educate, and even inspire its listeners or readers. However, creating an engaging story is not an easy task. One of the most important and complex tasks in creating a story is finding the central theme, which is often only identified after analyzing other characteristics of the story. Let us explore the process of finding the central theme of a story and what can go wrong when it is identified incorrectly at the beginning and how this applies to instructional design.
One of the main goals of a story or learning solution is to convey a message or lesson to its audience. The central theme is the main idea that the story wants to convey. The central problem is the main challenge that the learning solution aims to solve. It is the essence that gives meaning to all the events that occur in the story. The central theme can be an abstract idea, such as love, courage, or freedom, or it can be something more specific, such as the importance of honesty or the need for effective communication.
Finding the central theme of a story is a complex process that often involves analyzing other characteristics of the story. Some of these characteristics include the characters, the plot, the setting, and the motivations of the characters. Each of these characteristics can be used to help identify the central theme of the story.
The characters are one of the main characteristics that can help identify the central theme of a story. By examining the motivations and actions of the characters, we can discover what really matters in the story. For example, if the story revolves around a character who fights for justice and equality, the central theme may be the struggle against oppression.
The plot can also provide clues to identifying the central theme of a story. If the story involves a conflict or a journey, there may be a central theme related to overcoming challenges or pursuing a goal. The resolution of the conflict or the conclusion of the journey can be an indicator of what really matters in the story.
The setting can be another important indicator for identifying the central theme of a story. If the story takes place in a fantastical world or in a historical environment, there may be a central theme related to that setting. For example, a story that takes place during World War II may have a central theme related to the fight for freedom and overcoming adversity.
Finding the central theme of a story is an important and complex task, just like developing learning solutions. Identifying the wrong theme can lead to a story that does not connect with the audience and does not convey the desired message. Identifying the wrong problem can lead to a learning solution that does not connect with the student and does not convey the desired solution. In addition, it can lead to an inconsistent experience, in which the characters and the teaching, learning, and educational objectives do not align with the central problem.
When identifying the central problem of a story, it is important to take into account the target audience, that is, the professionals. The central problem may be different depending on the professional in question. For example, a learning solution may have a more straightforward approach for some professionals, while the solution to the same problem for higher levels in the company may be more complex and abstract.
Furthermore, incorrectly identifying the central problem at the beginning of the development process can lead to a series of problems. For example, if an instructional designer defines a central problem that is not relevant to professionals, the solution may seem disjointed or unfocused. This can cause them to lose interest and not engage with the solution.
Moreover, if the central problem is identified inadequately, the solution may not achieve its main objective. For example, if the objective of the solution is to convey a specific message or bring about a behavioral change, identifying the wrong central problem can hinder that objective. The solution may end up conveying a different message or eliciting an unexpected reaction, which can negatively impact the learning experience and cause negative impacts on the company.
For these reasons, it is crucial for instructional designers to dedicate time and effort to correctly identifying the central problem of a project or learning solution. This may involve careful analysis and discussions with subject matter experts, target audience, and other stakeholders involved in the project.
By correctly identifying the central problem, instructional designers can create more effective and engaging stories and learning solutions. The central problem provides a solid foundation for the development of scenarios, activities, and learning tools, ensuring that the learning solution is cohesive, relevant, and impactful for the students.
In conclusion, the central problem is one of the most important characteristics of a project and a learning solution. Correctly identifying the central problem can help instructional designers create engaging, effective, and impactful learning solutions. However, it is crucial to dedicate time and effort to correctly identifying the central problem, as identifying the wrong central problem can lead to a project without focus or ineffective learning solutions that do not connect with the professionals they are intended to help.