Make It Meaningful by Clark Quinn – Idea Extractions – Part Two

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Hook & Land

After covering the first big idea of Action-Reflection in the previous blog, I wanted to dive deeper into the next massive idea that will help me to design for better learning experiences – “Hook & Land”. Although Clark chose to cover these in two different chapters, I found these ideas to be complementary in nature. On the surface, it sounds fairly intuitive, while designing for great learning experiences you hook the learners with their motivators and, once hooked, land an extraordinary experience onto them so that the learning sticks and reflects on their performance outcomes. However, the way Clark unpacks this concept made me reflect and think about my design practice in a completely different direction.

(”Hook & Land” is what makes your learning experience meaningful.)

Clark starts the chapter saying, “To get people to be willing to engage in your experience, you have to open them up emotionally before you can address them cognitively. When people care, they learn better.” This statement itself lays the foundation for the entire chapter and stresses the importance of finding the perfect hook for your learning experience.

In my humble opinion, you don’t have to have that ‘one’ perfect hook in your learning experience. There could be many small hooks that are followed by small learning experiences that make up for a holistic learning experience.

The Emotional Buy-In

Before going into the tactical of how to get the emotional buy-ins of the learners, Clark mentions that there are a few important must-haves that need to be accomplished:

  • Identify what tasks learners aren’t doing that they’re desired to do and
  • Identify a clearly observable outcome that needs to be observed, which determines the learner performance

It is only when these two conditions are fulfilled can we move towards designing for the hook of the learning experience.

Unfortunately, the tactics to generate a great hook are mentioned in detail in the book, and I think I won’t do justice to them if I condense it into this blog, so reading the book is advised. However, what I can mention are a following ways that are advised by Clark to build on a great hook:

  • Invoking learners’ curiosity
  • Following the three pillars of Self-Determination Theory: Autonomy, Competence & Relatedness
  • Framing the “what’s in it for me” carefully for the learners
  • Crafting of real-world consequences that the learners will feel for
  • Following the motivations of the learners

There are more, but I’ve not listed them here deliberately

If you believe you’ve got a great hook, you can start focusing on landing the learning experience that sticks. Landing the learning experience is described by Clark as a place where the learners are deeply engaged with the learning experience, they’re in a flow state and are aware of the goals of learning.

At the core of the learning experience, there are several decisions that the learners make that make them reach the learning goals.

There is no magic formula to create a great learning experience that lands. However, there are several components of an experience that Clark suggests in the book:

  • Learners should know with utmost clarity on the goals of learning
  • The challenges presented in the experience should be well-balanced
  • Present learners with contexts in which the learning will help, could be dealt with in a creative fashion as well
  • Wrong/misdirected options should be the wrong actions seen during the actual performance with their real consequences showcased. Feedback should be consequences first; didactic feedback can be integrated with the consequence.

Clark also mentions in the earlier chapter that the principles that make great games and learning more engaging are the same! I will take the liberty here and say that to make learning engaging you should make it a lot more game-like. Our world right now is transforming into a game-like environment, why shouldn’t our learning transform too?

“Learning should be hard fun” – Clark Quinn

So, the learning experience should be comprised of the components mentioned above. Along with these, Clark mentions that we should also be paying a lot of attention to practice, especially the kind which increases the confidence levels of the learners to perform and take the correct decisions at the actual place of work.

I’ve not covered every single concept that Clark has mentioned in his book, however, what I have done is I’ve tried to summarise how I would use this big idea of Hook & Land. It’s time I get practicing.

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