As I type this, I can hear the opening ceremony of the 2006 Winter Olympics emanating from our living room.

Oh damn.

Two weeks of discipline required. If I start watching–if I take just one sip–I’m doomed to fall into the hypnotic seduction of the thing. Earlier this week I wrote a piece suggesting that we embrace popular culture to figure out what grabs people’s attention and imagination. Good advice, but I just don’t have the luxury to spend time watching people in tights for two weeks. I have too many other things to do; too many things to learn.

Learning takes time. Learning requires that we NOT do something else. Just like a good business strategy forces a company to decide what NOT to do, individuals who want to maximize their learning must have a good learning strategy. They must decide what activities to forgo.

Hmmm. What leverage can I gain from this knowledge in terms of instructional design? I don’t know, maybe none. It’s certainly relevant to individuals deciding whether (and how) to spend time learning something. But can I use this nugget to improve the instructional results or informal learning of the learners I am charged to help?

  1. Well, we might remind learners’ managers that learning takes time, and that they can help by protecting learning time.
  2. We can try to make learning more efficient, enabling our learners to forgo fewer other activities.
  3. We can think about whether our learning efforts are really that important, and just cut out those that don’t hit the threshold.
  4. We can measure learning to ensure that it’s really making a difference–instead of just taking this on faith.
  5. We can create compelling learning designs and focus on high-value, highly-relevant content, drawing our learners away from their distractions, vices, addictions; away from the mindless fluff of our entertainment culture; away from their spouses, children, parents. Okay, well maybe we should just make page turners.
  6. We can take over NBC (or whoever’s running the Olympics this year) and add some learning content to it. We could add some info about nutrition, exercise, genetics, ethics, international diversity, the unfair playing field for athletes from countries impoverished with lack of money or a lack of snow and ice. We could teach media literacy, and show how the networks–the advertisers really–try to control our minds and our actions.
  7. We could just watch the damn Olympics and take a freakin’ rest for pete’s sake.

Go Bode go!!