Your new client is a chainsaw company that sells their saws around the world. The head of customer education, Rodney, wants you to design training that will help customers cut down trees.
"When you cut down a tree," Rodney says, "a lot of things can go wrong. Most often, people don't control where the tree lands, and they squash their house or car. Then they blame our saw, saying it malfunctioned. This is bad for our brand. We want to reduce the property damage rate by 30% by next year."
[[1 <- I'll be glad to help. ]]"Our budget for the training is pretty good," Rodney says, "but we can't afford to send trainers all over the world. I think video could work. What do you think?"
[[5 <- Video could be useful, since the procedure is physical. What are the main things people need to do when they use your saw? ]]
[[4 <- Video could be part of the solution. Could you tell me more about what's involved in cutting down a tree?]]
[[7 <- Since the risk of damage is so high, we might want to combine video demonstrations with a rigorous assessment.]]Rodney describes how to use the saw, such as how to start it and how hold it while cutting into a tree trunk.
You create videos that focus on those physical skills. Customers continue to drop trees on their houses or cars, and the damage reports don't decrease.
[[8 <- Why did this happen?]]"First," Rodney says, "you have to figure out which way the tree <em>wants</em> to fall. You have to look for signs that show which way it will go. Then, if you want it to fall in a different direction, you have to decide where to put the face cut and how deep to make it. You might also need to use a rope and winch — it depends. I think video could show that."
[[9 <- We might want to create short videos that show how to do all that, and make them available in a smartphone app. ]]
[[10 <- We might want to create a simulation that lets people experiment on virtual trees. They'll learn from their mistakes.]]
[[11 <- We might want to create a story about a new chainsaw owner who needs to cut down a tree, and someone with more experience helps them.]]Rodney agrees, so you create a series of videos that focus on how to use the saw when you cut down a tree. Your assessment asks people to put the steps in order. Customers continue to drop trees on their houses or cars, and the damage reports don't decrease.
[[19 <- Why did this happen?]]You ignored the cognitive side of cutting down trees and didn't give people a chance to practice making decisions.
[[1 <- Start over]]Rodney agrees. You create a series of how-to videos and make them available on smartphones so people can use them in the field. Customers continue to drop trees on their houses or cars, and the damage reports decrease only slightly.
[[20 <- Why did this happen?]]"Virtual trees?" Rodney says. "You mean we'd show them how to do it with a video, and then they'd practice with virtual trees?"
[[13 <- Actually, we might just give them several trees to cut down, and let them decide whether to look at the video. They'll learn better if they experiment and make mistakes.]]
[[12 <- Exactly. The video will show them how to do it safely, and then they'll make sure they understand by felling some virtual trees. Then they'll be confident when they go into the field.]]Rodney agrees. You create a video course in which a new chainsaw owner is coached by a more experienced one. The course completion rate is 18%. Customers continue to drop trees on their houses or cars, and the damage reports don't decrease.
[[21 <- Why did this happen?]]"That doesn't seem fair," Rodney says. "If we don't show them how to do it and they don't look at the optional video, they'll make mistakes. Their virtual trees will land everywhere, like on the virtual car."
[[14 <- When they squash the virtual car, they'll realize that they need to look at the how-to video. Then they'll be less likely to make the same mistakes in the field.]]
[[15 <- They'll think it's fun and will probably make mistakes on purpose. They'll try felling trees in lots of different ways to see the results. This will help them make more informed decisions in the field.]]Rodney agrees. You create a video that shows customers everything they need to know, followed by practice exercises with three virtual trees. Customers continue to drop trees on their houses or cars, and the damage reports decrease only slightly.
[[22 <- Why did this happen?]]"So when they make a mistake," Rodney says, "a video guy appears and tells them that they did it wrong, and he shows them how to do it right?"
[[16 <- That's the best way to do it. That way, they'll always be shown the correct way and won't focus on their mistakes.]]
[[15 <- We might want to make the video guy optional. When people make a mistake, they might want to try it again without help.]]"But if we never stop them and tell them how to do it right," Rodney says, "how can we make sure they've learned the material?"
[[17 <- We'll give them an assessment after the virtual forest activity. For example, we'll make them put the tree-felling steps in order. If they pass, that proves that they know the procedure.]]
[[18 <- We won't let them out of the forest until they can control how every tree falls. When they consistently make the right decisions, they'll have proven that they know the material.]]Your how-to videos didn't give customers a chance to practice making the decisions that control which way a tree falls. A reference is a great idea, but when the risk of damage is so high, people should also practice applying what they've learned in a safe place before they do it in the real world.
[[4 <- Go back]]Your story didn't give customers a chance to practice making the decisions that control which way a tree falls. Just watching someone else do it isn't enough. Also, the basic nature of the video might make more experienced saw owners impatient, and they could skip it entirely.
[[4 <- Go back]]You ignored the complex decisions that people have to make to fell a tree. When a procedure requires judgment, it's not enough to simply know the steps.
[[1 <- Start over]]You gave the customers a limited range of situations in which to practice, and their practice relied more on their short-term memory of the video than on their ability to judge a situation and make good decisions.
[[10 <- Go back]]Rodney agrees. You create a virtual forest. The minute a customer does something wrong, a virtual lumberjack appears and tells them to stop and do it right. Course completion rates are 23%. Customers continue to drop trees on their houses or cars, and the damage reports don't decrease.
[[76 <- Why did this happen?]]
Rodney agrees. You create an activity in which customers try cutting down three trees, and then you give them a knowledge check about the tree-felling process.
Customers continue to drop trees on their houses or cars, and the damage reports decrease only slightly.
[[23 <- Why did this happen?]]"But they could be stuck in the virtual forest all day," Rodney says. "We have to show them how to do it first, or we'll waste their time."
[[24 <- They'll always have the option to see how to do it, and research suggests that they'll learn more deeply by trying to figure it out for themselves if they want to.]]
[[24 <- It's actually more efficient to let the customers control how much help they get, instead of forcing everyone to see all the information regardless of how much they already know.]]
[[25 <- We could add an assessment and let people skip ahead to that. When they pass the assessment, they can leave the course.]]You limited the customers' chance to practice the most difficult and dangerous aspects of the task. Instead, you focused on whether they could pull the procedure out of short-term memory.
[[15 <- Go back]]Rodney lets you create a prototype of the virtual forest and optional how-to videos for smartphones. With Rodney's help, you create several virtual trees that present the most common challenges that people face.
You test the material on some customers. They like experimenting in the forest, and after destroying some virtual property, they soon prove that they can make good decisions.
You publish the materials, and the damage reports begin to decrease. In addition, the marketing team reports that the virtual forest has gone viral in social media, and chainsaw sales are up. You've reached the best ending.
(link: "Play again")[<script>document.location.reload();</script>]Rodney agrees. You create a virtual forest activity that people can skip, along with a required assessment that tests whether they can put the steps of the tree-felling procedure in order. Customers continue to drop trees on their houses or cars, and the damage reports don't decrease.
[[26 <- Why did this happen?]]By letting people skip the virtual forest, you let them avoid practicing the decisions that would keep them safe. The most dangerous aspects of the procedure require judgment, not just following the steps.
[[18 <- Go back]]You treated the customers like children. You hovered over them, and you acted as if they couldn't be trusted to draw conclusions on their own. If a customer drops a virtual tree on a virtual car, they'll realize they did something wrong. Let them ask for feedback if they need it.
[[14 <- Go back]]