An Honored Guest on my Blog Site

Amanda Olmstead

Instructional Designer, Allen Communication Learning Services, Inc.

M.S., Instructional Performance Technology, Boise State University

The very essence of effective training can be easily summed up in Merrill’s First Principles of Instruction.  As Merrill states, “Learning is promoted when learners are engaged in solving real-world problems.”  But as technology has forced corporations and trainers both to move to the cost-effective scene of Web-Based Training (WBT), instructional designers must keep that principle in mind when designing for an impersonal electronic environment.

How can learners solve real-world problems in front of a computer screen?  In a previous <a href=>blog</a>, I felt inspired by video game interactions.  The goal of the most successful games is total immersion – the kind of game where you look up and realize that it’s way past midnight.  Total immersion in worlds like Second Life attempt to re-create fantasy.  Training scenarios are, in essence, a fantasy – a sample situation that plays out by script.

These concepts seem to lend an obvious choice in instructional development.  Instead of asking a learner what they would do in a situation, why can’t he or she do it?



Click the areas indicated by the X to interact with the customer.

Remember, not all interactions are necessary.


In the above scenario, learners are faced with an actual customer with human expectations.  You could even design a scenario where the customer is never satisfied – as happens quite often in retail.  Use video.  Use high-quality audio.  Program the scenario to act as realistically as possible.

Instructional designers have hundreds of tools available to them to create immersive, interactive experiences for the learner.  Computers today are more capable than ever to handle large, expansive media, and have the speed to do so online.  Ask your learners to do more, and watch less.  The closer practice is to real-life behavior, the more prepared your learners will be to tackle tasks once they push away from the desk.


Merrill, M. D. (2002). First principles of instruction. Educational Technology Research and Development, 50(3), 43-59.



About cadeleo
My name is Christina DeLeo, I am a grad student working on completing my Master's of Educational Technology degree at Boise State University.

One Response to An Honored Guest on my Blog Site

  1. Kae says:

    Your posts makes me think of the work that Dr. Snelson at BSU is doing with Machinima and branching storylines.

    I do also like the idea of giving a retail problem that doesn’t end with a simplified answers. I think it would be very conducive especially in an online to have this type of interaction and have the class discuss how sometimes you can’t please the customer. Or even given the circumstances, does your business have the capability of pleasing the customer.

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