Tip #609: Instructional Design Truths

“Anyone who believes what a cat tells him deserves all he gets.” Neil Gaiman

According to Edmond Manning, “If the Internet has taught us anything over the last twenty-five years, it’s that every single event in the history of all humanity can somehow be represented by adorable cat videos.”

He then goes on to illustrate his point, using cat .gifs to illustrate these 11 “instructional design truths”:

  1. Don’t bore your learners. Learners simply cannot learn—it’s not humanly possible—when they are bored.
  1. Don’t overwhelm your learners. If the learning strategy is to keep throwing information at learners with no opportunity to reflect, digest, practice, apply, etc., you’re not actually training anybody. 
  1. Don’t let learners get lazy. If your biggest involvement for learners is the occasional knowledge check question and a Click Next button, well, that’s not actual instructional design you’re practicing.
  1. [Don’t] carry learners. Training is supposed to enable learners to cross (on their own) a performance gap… They have to make the journey themselves. That means including some form of instructional interactivity.
  1. [Don’t let learners] fail. If you want learners to perform a skill (sell more, provide better customer service, follow government guidelines) and you don’t give them the opportunity to practice, you’re setting them up to fail.
  2. [Don’t give] pointless busy work. Smart instructional interactivity analyzes the performance learners must execute and asks, “How close can we get them to actual practice within this training environment?”
  1. Don’t humiliate learners. Don’t ask them stupid questions… Give them real problems to solve—layered with the complexity they would find in the real world. Give them challenges that will translate into job skills.
  1. Don’t make learners chase the value. Make the instructional interactivity reflect the problem to be solved. No guessing. No chasing the value.
  1. Listen to learner input. there is value in listening to them describe struggles to perform the behavior.
  1. [Remember that] learners are watching [to see the organization’s true priorities]. If the training focuses on compliance by a certain date with mediocre quizzing, well, that’s a pretty sure bet the training is a CYB (Cover Your Butt) measure, not anything inspired to change behavior.
  1. [Don’t] attack [learners with an information bomb]. Don’t get into this antagonistic relationship… You don’t want to pit your audience against learning, forcing them to fight like…well, cats and dogs.

Whether or not you are a cat lover, you will find his article illuminating at  http://info.alleninteractions.com/11-instructional-design-truths-according-to-cat-.gifs

May your learning be sweet, without cat hair!


Related Posts

Training Mastery

Are you a new trainer? Feeling overwhelmed? Wondering how to start or what to do?

Would you like to get just-in-time answers to your pressing questions? How about a second pair of eyes and ears to give you useful feedback and validation?

If you need help, come to my weekly Zoom roundtable on the third Thursday of the month, from 11 AM to 11:30 AM CST, beginning on September 21, 2023.

View the full course schedule.


Two new virtual business workshops for Spring 2023

Presentation Skills: Learn to be informative and persuasive.
8:30-4:00 pm,  4/26/2023

Register here

Six Steps to Yes: Acquire instant influence in a virtual world.
8:30 – 12:30pm, 3/28/2023

Register here


It doesn’t have to be difficult to Deal with Difficult People.

In this course you will define the behavioral characteristics and underlying needs of difficult people, assess situations in which you effectively handled a difficult person, review five steps for handling difficult people Laurel & Associates now offers courses through Teachable. Learn at your own pace.

Share This Post