How to influence ERP learners – just what the doctor ordered

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It’s October, my birthday month. For some strange reason, I feel some sort of comradery with people born in October; a feeling that we all have something special about us. So I was pleased to see that Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson was born on October 5th, close to my birth date. This man definitely has something special about him.

You see, Dr. Tyson has the ability to make complex concepts or dry subjects interesting and entertaining. Topics that seem only relevant for those with long attention spans are now reduced to a form that grabs even the most unlikely physicist. I could share so many of his quotes but this one about soundbites has to be my favorite.

“[A few] words that are informative, make you smile, and are so tasty you might want to tell someone else — there is the anatomy of a soundbite. And don’t think that soundbites aren’t useful if they don’t contain a curriculum. A soundbite is useful because it triggers interest in someone, who then goes and puts in the effort to learn more…Take the moment to stimulate interest, and upon doing that you have set a learning path into motion that becomes self-driven because that soundbite was so tasty — why do you think we call them bites?”

Genius! Now how do we apply Dr. Tyson’s observations to education or educators in ERP? Because let’s face it, some ERP topics can be a little arid. Here’s what I have learnt from him:

  • Be a story teller – If you have ever watched Cosmos: A Space Time Odyssey, you’ll know how he tells the story of the Universe in the most mesmerizing way. To apply this, instead of simply telling users how to use a feature or function, create a narrative of when, why and where the function can be used. Of course, make it relevant to them or their environment.
  • Keep it simple – When telling the story, keep the concept of what you are trying to teach simple. Dr. Tyson never bogs listeners or viewers down with the gory scientific details. In the ERP context, for example, don’t discuss the database tables with a user who is processing sales orders.
  • Ask thought-provoking questions – While hosting Star Talk, he probes his guests with thought-provoking questions and sometimes leaves his audience hanging with such a question during the advert break. Asking learners why they do something or how they can apply knowledge to their own experience stimulates and engages them. It may even cause them to question further, promoting self-driven learning. This angle, rather than an instruction to input data, creates curiosity (or even excitement) about the content.
  • Add humor – Dr. Tyson’s talk show, Star Talk, almost always includes comedians. Witty banter around scientific content keeps the audience laughing while learning. The product you use to run your business is no laughing matter but the way you learn how to use it can be made fun. The use of gamification techniques which employs game design elements in non-game contexts can encourage learning, competition and collaboration

Although the education content I’ve developed does not always follow my discoveries, I am learning and I think it’s time to prescribe what the doctor has ordered.

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