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In keeping with the spirit of rational optimism, after one of the most contentious campaign seasons on record, let’s assume when we wake up Wednesday we’ll be back to “normal.” So, what, if any, lessons have we learned through this election cycle that can be applied by an observant instructional designer as he attempts to improve his/her student’s experience? I offer the following:

Lesson #1 – Keep your messages clear and easy to remember.
Sometimes the hardest thing to do is to make complex things simple (or plain). Resist the temptation to over engineer or obfuscate (see what I did there? Used an overly complex word!). If you can say it in 4 words instead of 5, do it!

Lesson #2 – Spending a boatload of money doesn’t always guarantee success.
Mega-glitz and over-the-top productions won’t mask weak content. At the end of the day, confusing messages or flawed stories will be exposed no matter how many sequins, rainbows, and belching unicorns you adorn them with.

Lesson #3 – Timing is really important.
Great news delivered between two bomb blasts isn’t likely to have the impact you were looking for and may squander an opportunity. Likewise, if we mistime the delivery of new knowledge (too soon or too late) we’re likely to sub-optimize the value of the training.

Lesson #4 – Know your audience and join them where they are.
In other words, think long and hard about your medium of delivery. I wonder what percentage of the voting population had their opinion significantly swayed by what they read in a newspaper or, for that matter, saw on TV. If you’re still delivering your content via the same channels you used 5 years ago, you’re likely to be way out of step with your audience.

Lesson #5 – Getting the job is easy when compared to actually doing the job.
Just because your class is full doesn’t mean you’ve succeeded. To be sure, a strong Level 1 evaluation should put a smile on your face. However, it’s the results of the Level 4 (or 5) evaluation that will tell the real story, i.e., were instructional promises fulfilled?

My fellow Americans, these are exceptional and peculiar times we’re living in. While we’re all busy stockpiling seeds and water, let’s not forget there are still universally applicable lessons to be learned from this, uh, chapter, in our collective story. In fact, if we know where to look, we might even learn some lessons that can be passed on for generations to come! God Bless sound instructional design principles and God Bless America!

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