The Importance of the Learning Arc

The process of learning involves an interaction between the environment, content, inertial behaviors, and thought operations. Like a good story, learning depends on the interaction between the story, the storyteller, and the audience, among many other factors. Some people are born with the ability to speak well and spend countless hours honing this skill, while others spend countless hours learning how to speak well. However, what people who know how to teach well have in common is that they know how to tell a good story for the student to learn. Sometimes, they do not even speak very well or would never be considered professional presenters, but they can still teach.

This happens because they guide the student through the learning arc. Comedians do this all the time. They establish a baseline scenario (the environment), use audience biases to their advantage (inertial behaviors), and deliver the punchline (which forces us to use thought operations to find the humor). Like the joke, learning happens in the mind of the person who receives the learning solution. A bad comedian cannot force their audience to laugh at their jokes, just as students do not learn from bad learning solutions.

Learning Curve: Differences

The learning curve is a visual representation of the relationship between experience and skill. It shows that as a person gains experience in a task or activity, their skill increases. This relationship can be applied in many areas of life, including corporate education. In addition, the learning curve also helps to “motivate” employees by showing learning as a gradual process and that progress can be slow at the beginning. Employees are “motivated” to continue striving and persisting until they achieve success. In other words, confidence in the process is required, and the defining factor of success is the application of the “student”.

Once the central problem of a project has been identified, each learning solution will have its own learning arc. Whether that solution is a distance learning course or a simple job-aid, the instructional designer’s solution will take the student on a journey. On the other side, as we hope, they will have acquired something valuable for application in their professional life.

The parallel between learning through solutions and through stories is not coincidental. We learn to learn through stories from childhood, and this skill carries over into the rest of our lives. We extract meaning from our experiences by remembering them as stories in our minds. We use various techniques to aid our memory, one of the most famous being the loci technique, also known as the “memory palace”.

This technique consists of creating an imaginary place, which can be built based on a familiar place (such as the person’s own house), or creating a completely fictitious imaginary place, or combining both, and associating data with these places. It is a mnemonic technique based on the principle that the human mind is more able to memorize data when it is associated with personal, spatial, or relatively important information, than data organized in a non-suggestive (for the individual) or meaningless way. However, these sequences have to make some sense, or they will remain equally difficult to memorize. We create meaning through stories.

A poster that reads “Caution! High Voltage! Risk of shock!” stuck on a wall may grab your attention, but it does not make sense. Walls, in general, do not conduct electricity. Perhaps something behind the wall could be dangerous, but that is only a hypothesis. Now, stick that same poster near a generator. What happens? Soon, several employees will be curious about the situation. It is quite likely that they will start gathering around, trying to figure out why a simple poster can seem so dangerous. Although it doesn’t make sense, it is inevitable that they will start imagining and creating a story about why the water cooler has become dangerous, how this danger works, and most importantly, why no one responsible has yet removed that water cooler.

A good learning solution involves learning through a story. Dumping content and information is like writing manuals. Manuals are useful, some people read them. But since the massification of VHS players, we all know that no one reads manuals. If you had a problem with your VHS, or needed to learn how to record your favorite program, you would ask someone who knew. Today, no one cares about manuals. Any smartphone has so many possibilities for use, and no manufacturer cares to include a manual because they know that users will read it: if they need to figure out how to do this or that, they will ask for help from someone nearby who knows more about these technological matters, like grandchildren, cousins, or the IT guys.

Therefore, the instructional designer must be aware that the learning process cannot be divorced from the story. No matter if the learning solution is an online course or a manual, it is important to tell a story. This is what connects the content with the student, and this is what makes the learning solution relevant to the student.

A good instructional designer knows how to tell a story and how to use the learning curve to guide the student on this journey. It is important to remember that the learning curve is a relationship between experience and skill, and that the instructional designer must ensure that the learning solution leads the student to acquire new skills throughout the process.

In addition, it is important to consider that each student is unique and has their own learning curve. The instructional designer must take into account individual differences and create flexible and adaptive learning solutions that can be personalized according to the needs and preferences of each student.

Another important aspect to consider is the motivation of the student. The learning curve can be a slow and challenging process, and the instructional designer must be able to motivate the student to persist and continue striving until they achieve success. A good learning solution must be able to motivate the student, showing that progress is possible and that effort is rewarded.

Finally, it is important to emphasize that learning is not an isolated process, but rather an integral part of human development. The instructional designer must be able to create learning solutions that are aligned with the objectives and values of the organization, and that contribute to the personal and professional development of the student.

In summary, the learning arc is a complex process that involves the interaction between the environment, content, inertial behaviors, and thought operations. A good learning solution must be able to tell a story, use the learning curve to guide the student, take into account individual differences, motivate the student, and contribute to human development. The instructional designer is responsible for creating effective and relevant learning solutions that can lead the student to acquire new skills and competencies throughout the process.

Defining the learning arc: learning rites

Arnold van Gennep was a French anthropologist known for his work on the theory of rites of passage. Rites of passage are ceremonies that mark the transition from one state to another, such as the transition from adolescence to adulthood, the change in social status, or entry into a new group. His work has profoundly influenced anthropology, and his studies are considered fundamental to understanding human nature and how we deal with the events that mark our lives. In addition, they are important events for personal development and the survival of culture.

Rites of passage are important events for the learning and development of individuals. They provide opportunities for young people to develop new skills and competencies, such as hunting, fishing, cooking, shelter building, and communication. These skills are essential for survival in societies.

This means that learning needs to follow certain rites of passage? In a way, yes. There are learning rites, stages that we need to go through to learn anything. We divide educational goals into teaching goals and learning goals. There is a way to learn basic mathematics and another way to learn applied mathematics. Whether in the early grades of school or in post-doctoral studies, you start somewhere and learn to get somewhere else.

Rites of passage are also important for keeping professionals united around a common goal. They promote solidarity and a sense of community, which are essential for the survival of any business.

The instructional designer cannot control how learning occurs (after all, it occurs inside someone’s brain). Nonetheless, the instructional designer can try to facilitate and help the student as much as possible in this learning process. Part of this understanding is knowing the learning rites and applying them to the learning project strategy.

First Stage: Separation

The first stage of the learning arc is separation. In this phase, the professional is removed from the previous state and placed in a state of transition. This process can be voluntary or involuntary, depending on the type of learning solution. But don’t forget, unlike cultural rites of passage, the professional brings with him all his baggage and experience from the real world. And he will use it!

During the separation phase, the individual is separated from their daily professional life, metaphorically or not. They can be placed in an isolated location, such as a training room, a virtual learning environment, or a stack of process maps.

This separation happens from school. First, separation happens when we go to school. There we are separated from each other into classes. We separate what we need to learn by subjects, mathematics, physics, chemistry, arts, literature. Each subject has its subdivisions, taught and learned at separate times.

A plausible hypothesis is that we prepare ourselves to separate whenever we decide to learn, learn or watch a movie. If the activity involves thought, we are ready for this separation. Perhaps it is not only expected but necessary.

Second Stage: Liminality

The second stage of the learning arc is liminality. In this phase, the professional finds themselves in a state of transition, where they no longer belong to the previous state but are not yet part of the new state.

During liminality, the professional undergoes a process of transformation, where they are “stripped” of their old identities and “learn” new skills and knowledge that will be necessary in the new state. At this moment, all the theory and tools of learning are applied. This phase is usually accompanied by rituals and ceremonies that help the individual understand and internalize these changes.

Liminality is a period of uncertainty and instability, where the individual feels disoriented and, attention, vulnerable. The professional does not know what lies ahead. The professional may wonder: will they validate my knowledge or not? Do I know enough about the subject? Will it be just another nonsense? However, it is also a period of great potential, where the professional can learn a lot about the content, themselves, and the world around them.

Here, the work of the instructional designer is of utmost importance. It is not about controlling what (or how) we learn, but creating the best conditions for the professional to learn, if they so choose. Learning also requires effort, and those willing to learn know that some measure of effort, dedication, and concentration is necessary. The important thing for the instructional designer is not to guarantee learning, but to ensure that the student’s effort is not in vain. The instructional designer needs to recognize and reward this effort with well-crafted content, opportunities for thought, clarification of doubts and fears, and not just information.

We become anxious when we venture into unknown territory. People are always trying to create meaning and order from what they have just learned. Sometimes the instructional designer needs to help organize thoughts. Sometimes, to accentuate thinking operations. Sometimes, to make people think instead of telling them what they need to do.

Third Stage: Incorporation

The third stage of the learning arc is incorporation. In this phase, the individual is reintegrated into their new state.

During the incorporation phase, the professional is presented as someone who now occupies a new role or position. They can be received with parties, ceremonies, and other forms of celebration that mark their entry into the new phase of life.

Incorporation is a moment of stabilization and consolidation, where the professional adjusts to the new state and adapts to the new responsibilities and obligations they now have. This stage should be better worked on by the instructional designer in the solutions. The reason for this is: no matter how much dedication the learning project team puts into it, there will be challenges in the real world that were not foreseen, and it will be up to the professional to take everything they have learned and find a way to adapt it to their real professional life, in a way that makes sense and generates results.

The instructional designer knows that they cannot think of and include all the variables in a learning solution (or any project would never leave the paper). Designers usually do not openly admit to professionals that their solution is limited and that, without the active role of the professional to implement learning (not just copying step-by-step or magic formulas), it will be difficult to achieve good results. Incorporation is the end of the journey. Students need to understand that from here on, they are responsible for applying the learning and generating results. Instructional designers are available for clarification of doubts, assistance in specific cases, and, mainly, feedback on the validity of learning in the real world. If necessary, corrections will be made because corrections are part of the instructional design process.

Conclusion: the rites

The rites of learning are crucial for individuals to learn and develop in a meaningful way. They provide opportunities for the acquisition of new skills and competencies, and help individuals to adapt to new situations and realities.

The instructional designer can use the rites of learning to create more effective and meaningful educational solutions. Understanding the stages of the learning arc and applying them in the learning design strategy is essential to ensure that learning occurs effectively and that professionals can apply acquired knowledge in the real world.

The instructional designer should recognize that the learning process is not linear and involves many variables. It is important to create flexible and adaptable educational solutions that can adjust to the needs of individuals and organizations.

By understanding the rites of learning, the instructional designer can help professionals to develop meaningfully and apply acquired knowledge in the real world. Learning is a continuous process, and professionals must always be open to learning and adapting to changes.

To create effective educational solutions, the instructional designer must take into account the needs and goals of professionals, as well as consider best learning practices. It is important to create a learning environment that is engaging, challenging, and meaningful.

The success of the educational solution should not only be measured by the number of professionals who participated, but also by the impact that learning had on the organization and the lives of professionals. The instructional designer should constantly seek feedback and make adjustments to the educational solution to ensure that it is meeting the needs of professionals and the organization.

In summary, the rites of learning are an important tool for the instructional designer to create effective and meaningful educational solutions. Understanding the stages of the learning arc and applying them in the learning design strategy is essential to ensure that learning occurs effectively and that professionals can apply acquired knowledge in the real world. The instructional designer should always seek feedback and make adjustments to the educational solution to ensure that it is meeting the needs of professionals and the organization.

Creating the Learning Arch: The Forces of Learning

There is still much to be discovered about how the learning process occurs in our brain; however, we are certain that it happens. We encounter both good and bad teachers, and some people learn more easily than others. When we ask good teachers what their secret is, they always mention a set of methods, methodologies, techniques, tools, and, above all, knowledge based on experience.

While teachers have direct contact with students and therefore receive immediate feedback on their learning solutions, instructional designers face different challenges. In many projects, it is impossible to know all the students, and feedback is not immediate. Often, the metrics tracked by the Training and Development sector are measured superficially, without a practical and objective application in the development of projects.

Just as engineers conduct a series of studies and calculations before starting an engineering project, instructional designers must also analyze and consider the best learning solutions for the central problem of the project. Each solution will have its own learning arc, which means that the instructional designer must understand and leverage the forces in favor of the professional’s learning process.

Life is not a work of fiction with a clear structure, screenplay, or step-by-step guide that guarantees tranquility and success. Therefore, the simple transposition of reality into learning solutions is ineffective and, in fact, tedious. We create meaning from our experiences by transforming them into significant stories and rites of passage.

The Apprentice and the Forces that Influence Learning

During the learning process, three forces interact with each other. The first is the environment and content, the second are the inherent behaviors of professionals, including their own knowledge based on experience, and the third are the professionals’ thought operations regarding the environment, content, and their own experiences and professional expertise. But how can we visualize this process that occurs inside people’s minds?

For this, we will use ThemeRiver, a data visualization tool that allows identifying thematic trends in large sets of documents. This system uses a river metaphor to continuously represent the temporal evolution of different themes in a set of documents. Unlike a histogram, which uses discrete bars to represent data at each time period, ThemeRiver uses smooth curves to represent the temporal evolution of different themes. Each theme is treated as a “current” that flows throughout time, maintaining its integrity as a unique entity throughout the entire chart.

In our case, each river represents the forces involved in learning. Perhaps we should use X and Y axes to demonstrate magnitudes and quantities, but these forces literally function like a river, creating their own paths and interacting with each other. Learning is not a graph or table. Learning appears to behave like a fluid, and therefore, is best understood using fluid mechanics, that part of physics that studies the effect of forces on fluids.

The Difference between Andragogy and Instructional Design

In physics, fluid mechanics is divided by the state of the fluids. Fluids in static equilibrium are studied by hydrostatics, and fluids subject to non-zero external forces are studied by hydrodynamics. Perhaps the same categorization can be used to explain andragogy/pedagogy and instructional design? This may facilitate the understanding of instructional design. But, of course, this may not be the case.

Design for Thinking is a learning-centered strategy that considers the forces that influence learning and seeks to create effective and meaningful learning solutions. By understanding and leveraging the forces of learning, instructional designers can create more effective learning solutions that help professionals acquire knowledge and skills more effectively and meaningfully.

Andragogy, on the other hand, is an approach centered on the adult learner, considering their unique characteristics, such as their life experience, learning needs, and motivation to learn. While andragogy focuses on the learner, Design for Thinking focuses on the learning solutions that are created to meet the needs of professionals.

Instructional design is an interdisciplinary approach that combines knowledge from pedagogy, psychology, information technology, and other relevant fields to create effective learning solutions. By understanding the forces of learning and leveraging them in favor of the learning process, instructional designers can create learning solutions that help professionals achieve their learning goals more effectively and meaningfully.

How Environment and Content Influence Learning: An Analysis

Environment and content are two forces that work together in learning. Although considered separate forces, in practice they function in a complementary manner. For example, if you create a learning solution development environment to encourage innovation, but the environment in question does not value the necessary behaviors to promote innovation, this can result in an even bigger problem.

Environment is an important factor that must be considered in the development of learning solutions. The contents of these solutions are practically infinite, and therefore, it is important that the instructional designer has control over the content that will be presented. In addition to the accuracy and reliability of this content, which is built in conjunction with subject matter experts, the instructional designer must evaluate the consequences of the content, not only in the learning solution but also in the effect that the information will have on the learners.

Information Anxiety is a term coined by American author, designer, and architect Richard Saul Wurman. Information anxiety is a condition in which people feel overwhelmed by the amount of information they receive daily. This can be caused by many factors, such as excessive use of technology, an increase in the amount of information available, and a lack of skills to manage this information.

Information Overload, on the other hand, is a broader term that refers to the excess of information in general. This can happen when the available information is simply too much to be processed in a given period of time. Information overload can lead to a lack of focus and mental clarity, making it difficult to make effective decisions.

How to deal with Information Anxiety:

  1. Recognize that information anxiety is normal and affects many people.
  2. Learn to manage the time spent by learners searching for information.
  3. Learn to filter information, seeking only those that are relevant and useful for the task at hand.
  4. Establish limits for the time spent on activities and limit exposure to sources of information that may harm the learning solution.

How to deal with Information Overload:

  1. Recognize the difference between information anxiety and information overload.
  2. Learn to prioritize the most important information and make decisions based on it, working closely with subject matter experts (SMEs).
  3. Establish an information organization system that works for professionals, not for teachers.
  4. Limit the amount of information available, especially when it comes to irrelevant or unreliable sources of information for the central problem at hand.

Environment and content interact with each other, and in many moments, one force can overpower the other. We call this the Friction Zone, where the forces begin to compete with each other. This is when learning can occur, as the person starts to try to make sense of all the information being presented.

Finally, it is important to highlight that the correct choice of environment and content is fundamental to the success of learning solutions. Therefore, the instructional designer must be attentive to details and consider all relevant aspects to ensure that the environment and content are aligned with the learning goals and the target audience.

Inertial behaviors and learning: A challenge for instructional designers

Motivation is a key piece in the learning process. When students are motivated, they are more willing to engage in effective learning behaviors and achieve their goals. This is where the important role of instructional designers comes in, as they can help foster student motivation by highlighting the value and relevance of learning objectives, providing appropriate feedback and support, and allowing for choice and autonomy in learning.

There are two critical concepts that are essential to understanding motivation: the subjective value of an objective and the expectations for success in achieving that objective. While many theories have been proposed to explain motivation, most of them place these two concepts at the center of their framework: value and expectations. The most common strategy for addressing this issue is for teachers to help students see the relevance and importance of learning objectives by highlighting how they connect to their interests and personal goals while promoting opportunities for choice and autonomy.

This approach works very well in controlled environments such as schools and universities, but it is not as effective in the real world. Professionals will not set aside their experience to follow a theoretical model that may or may not work. Their inertial behaviors were fundamental to their professional development. It is not the morning training that will change the way a professional works in the afternoon. Most professionals with higher education will say that there is a big difference between theory and practice. Sometimes they say that you need to forget everything you learned in college on the first day of work.

Instructional designers need to understand that professionals who participate in a learning experience will always evaluate, criticize, and judge that experience based on their real professional life. That is why it is crucial for instructional designers to understand inertial behaviors and know how to deal with them when creating effective learning solutions.

To deal with inertial behaviors, it is important for instructional designers to consider the following steps:

  • Understand the needs and expectations of professionals: Before creating any learning solution, it is important to understand the needs and expectations of professionals. This can be done through research, interviews, and data analysis.
  • Emphasize the relevance of learning: It is important to highlight the relevance of learning for professionals and show how it connects to their interests and personal goals. This can be done through concrete examples and success stories.
  • Provide opportunities for choice and autonomy: Allowing professionals to have choice and autonomy in learning can increase their motivation and engagement. This can be done through personalized learning options, flexible learning paths, and choice activities.
  • Offer adequate feedback and support: Providing adequate feedback and support is critical to maintaining professional motivation and helping them achieve their learning goals. This can be done through regular assessments, mentors, and learning communities.

Design for Thinking is a strategy that focuses on changing professional behavior through thinking operations. It is an effective approach to dealing with inertial behaviors as it focuses on changing professional behavior rather than just providing information, theories, or using positive and negative stimuli to guide behavior.

For example, instead of simply teaching professionals about a new technique, the Design for Thinking strategy offers the opportunity to practice the technique in a real situation, think about the challenge, and receive feedback on performance. This encourages professionals to change their behavior and incorporate the new technique into their professional practice. Developing thinking operations is more valuable for professional development than rewards and punishments, which help reinforce or correct specific behaviors. Design for Thinking helps professionals identify reasons and create solutions.

The role of instructional designers is crucial in implementing Design for Thinking. They need to understand the professionals’ inertial behaviors and create learning solutions that help them understand and, when necessary, change these behaviors.

In addition, instructional designers need to work closely with subject matter experts and professionals to identify desired behaviors and create learning solutions that help change Bad Habits in Business. This can be done through joint planning and review sessions, as well as through regular feedback collection from professionals on the effectiveness of the learning solution.

Inertial behaviors are a challenge for professionals who interact with learning solutions. However, by understanding these behaviors and implementing Design for Thinking, instructional designers can help professionals change their behaviors and achieve their professional goals. By working closely with SMEs and professionals, instructional designers can create effective learning solutions that help overcome inertial behaviors and promote motivation and engagement for all involved in the projects.

How to improve your thinking skills for personal and professional success

Developing thinking skills is key to both personal and professional success. They enable people to critically and creatively analyze information, find alternative solutions, and make informed decisions. By developing these skills, individuals are able to face complex and challenging situations, develop problem-solving skills, and make well-informed decisions.

In the professional environment, thinking skills are valuable for solving problems and finding creative solutions to everyday challenges. They enable people to make informed decisions that contribute to the success of the company and its projects.

Instructional designers who seek to emphasize thinking in their solutions need to be aware of the difference between process and product in education. In summary, the process is the learning experience and effort of a professional, while the product is the end result, such as a grade or answer. The process is a complex and poorly understood psychological activity, while the product is defined, tangible, and easy to identify and measure. Unfortunately, many training and development projects in companies focus excessively on the product of learning and do not give due attention to the process.

There are several reasons for the importance of the product in instructional projects. As it is visible, the product can be seen, treated, and measured. It can be a grade in a course, a report, a participation rate, or an answer to a question. Often, the assumption is that if a professional answers a question correctly, they have learned what they were taught. While this is sometimes true, it is not always the case.

A professional may complete a page of exercises on the sales process and answer the questions correctly, but not have truly understood the process. They may have learned a “trick” or mechanically followed a routine based on similar examples. Based solely on these answers, the instructional designer cannot determine if the professional truly understood the process.

Process and product are similar to means and ends. Sometimes, the focus on results is so intense that the instructional designer gives little importance to the means to achieve them. However, this focus only on the product, such as easily administered tests and machine-corrected tests, can lead to a reduction in thinking and creativity. In an increasingly competitive market and with limited resources for learning, there is a temptation to focus mainly on the products of education, such as tests easily administered and corrected by machines.

For this reason, it is crucial for instructional designers to pay attention to the processes that occur alongside the product. While the product is important and often objective and valuable, it is not the only aspect of interest. When instructional designers teach thinking skills, emphasizing both the process and the product, and focusing on each individual learner, learning tends to become more “customized” and less of a mass-produced output.

Emphasizing thinking and process, rather than just the product, leads to more effective and in-depth instructional solutions. This helps learners develop critical and creative thinking skills, tackle complex challenges, and make informed decisions. The end result will be a more solid and well-grounded personal and professional success.

In summary, it is crucial for instructional designers to emphasize both the process and the product in their solutions. By doing so, they help learners develop critical and creative thinking skills, tackle complex challenges, and make informed decisions. The end result will be a more solid and well-grounded personal and professional success. Therefore, when choosing instructional solutions, it is important to take into account not only the final product but also the process involved.

Defining the learning arc: leveraging friction zones

Friction is a force present in our lives, both in the workplace and in our personal relationships. Although challenging, friction can also be a powerful learning tool if approached properly. As learning professionals, it is important to understand how to deal with these forces to create effective learning solutions.

Thinking of friction as a challenge is a way to understand that it can be used as an opportunity to enhance our skills and acquire new knowledge. When we face a challenge, we are forced to use our experience and the information we possess to find a solution. It is this thought process that allows us to learn and evolve.

Friction and Meaningful Learning

Friction is even more valuable when we can use our baggage to think about a problem and find a solution on our own. When this happens, we have a truly meaningful learning experience. It is important to remember that this type of learning is only possible when we approach the challenge consciously and intentionally.

Unfortunately, friction is not always a good thing. Conflict is the result of the interaction between opposing forces and can be extremely detrimental if not managed properly. This is especially true when it comes to business environments, where the goals, objectives, biases, and experiences of the involved parties are often opposed.

Discussion, however, is a specific type of conflict that can be a valuable learning tool if the parties involved are willing to listen to and respect each other’s opinions. When well-managed, discussion can lead to a better understanding and resolution of conflicts, which is a valuable skill for any professional.

As instructional designers, we need to understand the importance of effectively managing conflict. This can be done by offering meaningful challenges, fostering collaboration, encouraging thinking operations, and providing good feedback. By doing so, we will be giving our professionals the opportunity to learn how to deal with conflicts in a healthy and productive way.

In summary, conflict is a reality that we need to face and manage effectively. Discussion can be a valuable learning tool if the parties involved are willing to listen to and respect each other’s opinions. However, if emotions begin to take over, discussion can quickly become something useless and harmful.

War: Extreme Conflict

In situations where goals, objectives, biases, and experiences are diametrically opposed, conflict can turn into war. War is an extreme form of conflict that involves the fight for control of territories, resources, and sometimes ideas. It is important to remember that, while something to be avoided whenever possible, war may be necessary in some extreme circumstances. However, it is always important to approach these issues with care and understanding, as they can lead to physical and emotional risks, lasting traumas, and irreparable damage to the company and society as a whole.

As instructional designers, we need to use all the theoretical knowledge and materials developed by subject matter experts to create learning solutions that truly work. We cannot avoid friction zones, but rather understand them and use them to our advantage. Just as engineering uses physics to create intelligent solutions, instructional designers need to understand how to use friction to create effective learning solutions.

Instead of avoiding friction, we must leverage it. We cannot simply force learning, we need to create an environment where it can happen naturally and meaningfully. This is achieved by understanding how friction works and using it to our advantage.

In summary, as instructional designers, we need to redefine the learning arc to overcome friction. Instead of avoiding it, we need to understand it and use it to create effective learning solutions. By doing so, we will be giving our learners the opportunity to learn meaningfully and naturally, which is crucial to their success in life and work. The question is, how do we do that?

We cannot stress enough that each case is unique, but we can use some strategies that help professionals face challenges and improve their skills. Here are some to create an effective learning environment:

  • Offer meaningful challenges: It is important to offer meaningful challenges that allow professionals to use their experience and knowledge to find solutions. This will help them learn and evolve.
  • Foster collaboration: Collaboration is a valuable tool for dealing with friction. When we work together, we are forced to listen to and respect each other’s opinions, which can lead to more effective solutions.
  • Encourage thinking operations: It is important to encourage thinking and problem-solving. The more professionals engage in this process, the more they will learn and evolve.
  • Provide feedback: Feedback is a valuable tool for dealing with friction. It is important to provide good feedback that helps professionals understand where they are doing well and where they need to improve.
  • Create a safe environment: It is important to create a safe environment where professionals can face challenges and learn without fear of failure. This will allow them to evolve and improve their skills.

In summary, to create a challenging and productive learning environment, we need to leverage friction to our advantage. This means offering meaningful challenges, fostering collaboration, encouraging critical thinking, providing good feedback, and creating a safe environment. By doing so, we will be giving our learners the opportunity to learn meaningfully and naturally, which is crucial to their success in life and work.

The Power in the Classroom

Since the 1950s, researchers have focused on studying the power of teachers in the classroom. Louis Raths was the first to explore this line of research, followed by Jacob Kounin and Paul Gump in the following decade. The research focused on the “requests” made by teachers - orders for students to stop misbehaving, such as passing notes, chewing gum, speaking out of turn, sending text messages, or answering cell phones.

The question to be answered was: “What makes some orders work and others not?” Kounin and Gump initially hypothesized that the nature of the “order” determined its effectiveness. Orders were categorized as clear, firm, and/or rude. The clarity of an order was seen as a key factor, as telling the student to “Stop” was less effective than an order formulated as “Stop passing notes now”. The latter example is clear, as it specifies what the student should stop doing and when they should stop. A rude order had an element of stridency that created tension or negative affect in the classroom and probably more management problems.

Today, instructional designers face the same challenge, whether in face-to-face, distance, synchronous or asynchronous solutions. It is important to remember that instructional designers need to earn the trust of students with each learning solution. Raths observed that “all serious writers on power speak of its interpersonal nature and of its reciprocal relationships: to have power, it must be granted by others.”

Below, we present some truths that instructional designers need to know and accept to create better learning solutions:

  • Instructional designers do not have authority over professionals. They yield power to those they want to and there is no way to compel them.
  • Students yield power to teachers who meet their expectations, especially regarding the business status system. If there is compliance with norms, they develop a “zone of indifference”. In this regard, at least initially, professionals are the least free individuals in an organization. Raths (1954) postulates about leadership status hierarchies in small groups in general: “To preserve itself, leadership utilizes these inequalities; in part, it tends to preserve them.”
  • The informal status system within a team is established with the consent of its members. It is based on inequalities found in any group. An instructional designer who recognizes and values leaders in various status areas is valued by students.
  • The appreciation of a learning solution occurs when it allows students the opportunity to improve and excel in various status areas, and also recognizes and rewards those contents determined as informal references in those areas.

The diversity of skills and talents of professionals

Just as a successful football team needs a variety of players with different skills, it is also important to have a variety of professionals with different skills in an organization. Each category of successful performance is important to the organization’s success. There is no single way to be successful in a career. Some professionals are specialists in a specific area, while others are generalists with skills in various areas. Both approaches can be equally valuable to the organization, depending on its needs.

Instructional designers who earn the trust of students and establish an effective system of learning solutions have more power and are better able to manage their projects. However, this achievement is not easy and requires continuous and conscious effort on the part of instructional designers.

Instructional designers who gain the trust of students and establish effective learning solutions have more power and are better able to manage their projects. However, this achievement is not easy and requires continuous and conscious effort on the part of instructional designers.

In summary, the power of the teacher in the classroom results from their ability to gain the trust of students and create effective learning solutions. To be successful, instructional designers need to understand the truths about interpersonal power and reciprocal relationships, recognize status inequalities, and create solutions that allow professionals to improve and excel in various status areas, as well as maintain a clear understanding of what is happening within the group.

To ensure success, instructional designers must strive continuously to create solutions that are clear, firm, and effective, based on a deep understanding of the needs and challenges of professionals. This includes developing healthy relationships with them, recognizing status inequalities, and valuing important content for these professionals.

Success requires precision and understanding

Kounin later recognized that the effectiveness of orders also reflects the teacher’s “understanding” - the ability to discern accurately what is happening within the group. Teachers who give orders to the wrong student, for example, telling John to stop passing notes when it was actually Jose who did it, lose power due to lack of understanding. The same applies to learning solutions. If the solution solves the wrong problem or in the wrong way, both it and those responsible lose the trust of professionals.

It is no coincidence that many SMEs are reluctant to participate in creating learning solutions. In addition to the lack of experience in teaching, they also know all too well the consequences of teaching incorrectly. Everyone in the organization knows this, even those who teach incorrectly, but it is safer and more comfortable not to talk about it.

Instructional designers who want to gain the trust of students and establish effective learning solutions must have a precise understanding of the challenges and difficulties faced by students. This requires continuous and conscious effort on the part of instructional designers. If they want to be successful, they must always be attentive and prepared to understand and solve problems correctly. Otherwise, they risk losing the trust of students and the effectiveness of their learning solutions.

By following these strategies and practices, instructional designers can achieve power and effectiveness in the classroom and provide high-quality learning solutions that help professionals achieve their goals. Therefore, it is essential for instructional designers to understand the importance of power in the classroom and invest time and effort in developing quality learning solutions.