Dan Klein, the former VP of PeopleSoft's Education Department, once told me that "We need to invite the learner into the learning." His statement reminded me of another one I heard at a TechLearn conference years before. A brilliant and dreadlocked speaker named Jared said "We must learn to seduce the learner into the learning."
So I've had this debate for years with more people than I can remember: Invite or seduce.
Invite is direct. It says that "Here's an interesting learning experience that we'd like to invite you to" or "Please attend this elearning program since you have expressed an interest, and we think you will find it useful." This is inviting versus the "My supervisor/manager/boss told me to take this course" or "This course was part of my annual review to make me smarter", which I call coercing.
Seduction is more subtle. I think about the Sickle Cell Anemia program developed by Roger Schank that I was seduced into. The opening screen is a video of a woman asking the person passing by for "Help!" It's an appeal to the viewer's altruism and 'seduces' you into finding out why she needs help. Turns out a relative has just been diagnosed with Sickle Cell and she needs help figuring out what to do. You can go to the Doctor, Library, Class or Relative With Sickle Cell. Either way you learn a lot about the disease by the time you go back and answer her questions.
I suspect that both are difficult to do well. Invite presupposes that you know what the student wants to learn. Seduce assumes that you can be clever enough to get someone to learn something they might not otherwise spend the time learning, even if they were invited. Seduction seems to be the more powerful of the two.
So which is it? Or there's no real difference. Or "Who cares! No one does it anyway!" Weigh in readers and be heard. Do the learners need to be invited or seduced into the learning?
We did a quick Flash Poll to get people's thoughts on what the best way to interest learners in a subject is: an invitation or seducing them. As you can see from the results below, seduction is a clear winner!
If you didn't get a chance to vote in the Flash Poll, drop us a note as a comment to this post. Or give your thoughts on the results of the poll.