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

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The [Goals>Role>World] Process in meaningful learning experiences

The central tenet of making your learning a meaningful experience lies in Chapter Four: Tricks & Tips, according to me. Clark talks about and dives deeper into the idea of determining the [Goals > Role > World] process. He goes into the depths of how storytelling (Rance Greene’s Instructional Story Design is great reference material) can guide us all to designing for meaningful learning experiences.

Before diving deeper into the three-step process that I’ve derived from this chapter, I’d want to speak about a meta-skill that Clark insists that everyone should be nurturing. Clark mentions that whatever it is we want to design, be it courses, games, interactivities, or stories, we should find the inspiration for it by watching more movies, reading more stories, playing more games, visiting amusement parks, etc. just consuming everything that you’d want your learners to feel and just completely immersing ourselves in it. This helps us be more creative and observant, and understand the principles better.

From what I understand, adding creativity appropriately is also what makes the learning experience meaningful. This [Goals > Role > World] three-step process helps you do just that. It’s never easy to demystify a creative endeavor. Clark has done a splendid job of doing just that, so let’s get into it.

Step One: Determine [Goals, Role, and World]

These three also form the core components of a good story.

Determining Goals: We need to first determine the goals that need to be achieved

Key considerations while determining Goals:

  • It must accurately convey the real-life task.
  • We must not tinker much with the real-life decisions that need to be made to be able to do the task.

Determining Role: We must then define the role of the protagonist who will be achieving the defined goals

Key considerations while determining the Role:

  • Put the players in a role they want to be in according to their interests.
  • Determine the traits and quirks of the role that excite/relate to the audience.
  • Determine the character arc of the role; ensure that the role completes the arc within the experience.

Determining the World: Finally, we determine the world in which that protagonist lives to achieve those goals set

Key considerations while determining the world:

  • It could be real life or even anything mythical, but we need to ensure that it facilitates effective learning transfer. There’s a possibility of contexts getting lost, so choose your Worlds carefully.
  • Worlds may also have inherent conflicts within them that make it difficult for the protagonist to achieve the goal. So, when the protagonist overcomes these conflicts, the conclusion is more fulfilling as the World has changed/evolved.

Step Two: Figure your treatment

Either you know this from the beginning, because of constraints, or because you just finished your step. We will need to determine how you want to treat this experience. It can be a story, game, interactivity, or anything else that we deem fit or suits the audience, as also the requirements, budget, and other constraints of the project.

Depending on the treatment we choose, we will need to move to production accordingly. The production guides are fairly standardized and there aren’t any considerations while at the production stage.

Once we have an early prototype ready, we could look at step number three.

Step Three: Creativity in Learning Checklist

Only when you’ve figured out the first two steps can you move to the creativity in learning checklist. The steps and the names for them are contrived by me, I’ve taken the information from the book and have arranged it in a way that suits my understanding and helps me make meaning out of it.

This checklist ensures that we tighten up the experience that we’re about to build, and is by no means exhaustive. It’s also all of the things that Clark mentions in his Tips and Tricks section. We can use this checklist as a guide to reflect on/improve the experiences that we’ve built/are building:

  • Does the experience have a great introduction (especially with a backstory), and does it have an emotional hook at the very beginning that makes you want to know more?
  • Are there decisions that have been crafted that initiate/invoke conflicts that make the audiences learn?
  • Are the feedbacks that have been crafted individualized and personalized to every option provided?
  • Do the character dialogues integrate appropriate humor, exaggeration, or any other emotion to create a suspension of disbelief?
  • Is the experience able to adjust to difficulties, and maintain the ebb and flow of tension within the experience?
  • Does the experience have flavors of relatedness, autonomy and competence within it to promote engagement within it?
  • Are there intentionally built practices and rituals into the experience that help promote learning transfer?
  • Are the activities/challenges framed in a way that converts all knowledge-level statements into application-level statements?
  • Are there any uses of examples? How effectively have they been used?
  • Can you map the quality of the experience against the quality of the objectives that were set?
  • Is there a possibility to check if the experience has appropriate levels of learning transfer strategies built into it?

It’s not easy. It never was. Creating meaningful experiences is hard work and creating meaningful learning experiences is a lot harder than that. These three steps, hopefully, make it a little bit easier for me to get started. Hope this ‘note to self’ it helps you too!

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