Instructional Design Law & Order-style

February 13, 2008

law_svu.jpg

I have been watching an unhealthy amount of Law & Order lately. You know it’s at an unhealthy level when you’re not sure if you’re watching the one you started watching originally or the next one,or the next one…

Yes, I know what you’re thinking. Either (1) what is Law & Order? Or (2) have you considered adding a tag “get a life?'” here on your blog. (I have. Numerous times.)

For those not familiar, Law & Order is a popular American drama TV series and series of spin-offs about the New York City criminal justice system. Fictional plots often mirror real life news. I believe there have been adaptations in other countries.

Because everything I see eventually ties to learning & training, I thought hey, this is actually work-related TV watching. Yes. I’m talking about Law & Order: Instructional Design Unit.

  1. The voiceover – Law & Order starts with a voiceover. It puts everything in context. Applied to a compliance-type sexual harassment e-learning course it may go something like this: In our organization, sexual harassment is considered especially heinous. The dedicated human resource staff who investigates these vicious allegations are members of an elite squad known as compliance officers. These are their stories.
  2. The hook: Law & Order dives right into the story; the problem. In an e-learning course, it may be a video or scenario that illustrates a particular allegation of sexual harassment.
  3. The theme music: great for consistency among modules a common theme is great. It doesn’t have to be music. It also gives the learner time to get ready & comfortable for the activities that will follow. For me, the Law & Order theme music incites a Pavlovian-type response.
  4. The characters: In Law & Order, you’ll see images of a semi-attractive man, a very attractive young woman, an unattractive older man, another very attractive young woman, various shots of investigations, another image of much older unattractive man, and another very attractive young woman! (content for another post!) It finishes with a group shot of all the characters we are about to meet in the stories. [In the e-learning course, I would not follow the Law & Order/American media practice of only using young attractive women. I’d go with a mix of real employees. Not always a pretty bunch but believable. (BTW, why would one investigate a gory crime scene in high heels and a white blouse?)
  5. The stories : Here’s where we break it down. In Law & Order, you’re trying to figure out what’s happened with some assistance from the characters. This is action-oriented TV viewing. So in the course, we’re not just reading about “something’ and answering questions, we’re figuring out what led to the “problem” and, we’re solving the problem by being fed little bits and pieces.
  6. The test: In Law & Order, this is where we figure out if we’ve done a good job in investigating. In our sexual harassment e-learning course example, this is where we can assess – formally or by ourselves.

If ADDIE doesn’t rock your world, try my Law & Order model. It’s an instructional design model that makes use of a successful TV show.

  • Maria Hlas

    Oh man this is funny and a very good example. I too am a Law and Order junkie, especially the Special Victims Unit and Criminal Intent versions. Since I watch in syndication (i.e you can watch one from 200o and then the next one is from 2007), I have a hard time even telling where exactly the personal storylines are (Is Elliot back with his wife? The first time? The second time? And which partner is Chris Noth with now? And what order were these chicks in anyway?!) One thing they do is lead you down one path with a suspect and motive and then change it when new information is discovered. Not a bad way to keep a course interesting either.

    Especially for some kind of required training, using a theme like this and also having them think about things themselves can help when you put things like this online. Of course you would need to get the blessing of the powers that be and walk that fine line between making it interesting and annoying people with your creative treatment of information.

  • Maria Hlas

    Oh man this is funny and a very good example. I too am a Law and Order junkie, especially the Special Victims Unit and Criminal Intent versions. Since I watch in syndication (i.e you can watch one from 200o and then the next one is from 2007), I have a hard time even telling where exactly the personal storylines are (Is Elliot back with his wife? The first time? The second time? And which partner is Chris Noth with now? And what order were these chicks in anyway?!) One thing they do is lead you down one path with a suspect and motive and then change it when new information is discovered. Not a bad way to keep a course interesting either.

    Especially for some kind of required training, using a theme like this and also having them think about things themselves can help when you put things like this online. Of course you would need to get the blessing of the powers that be and walk that fine line between making it interesting and annoying people with your creative treatment of information.

  • http://karynromeis.blogspot.com/ Karyn Romeis

    Good analogy! I’m not sure that I’ll ever see the show in the same light again!

    I have to say that the thing I find most irritating about L&O is that “plunk-plunk” noise that accompanies the black-screen-with-white-text that tells you where the next scene plays out. It’s like “Aargh!”

    I’m not a fan of the original flavour, but I’m an ardent follower of Vincent D’Onofrio’s Bobby Goren in Criminal Intent. I’m also quite keen in SVU, but my husband can’t abide anything that deals with sexual crimes, so, if he’s in the room, I have to switch channels.

  • http://karynromeis.blogspot.com Karyn Romeis

    Good analogy! I’m not sure that I’ll ever see the show in the same light again!

    I have to say that the thing I find most irritating about L&O is that “plunk-plunk” noise that accompanies the black-screen-with-white-text that tells you where the next scene plays out. It’s like “Aargh!”

    I’m not a fan of the original flavour, but I’m an ardent follower of Vincent D’Onofrio’s Bobby Goren in Criminal Intent. I’m also quite keen in SVU, but my husband can’t abide anything that deals with sexual crimes, so, if he’s in the room, I have to switch channels.

  • http://www.brandon-hall.com/ Janet Clarey

    My favorite is the SVU variety although I do love Criminal Intent too.

    Perhaps there’s a L&O; Facebook group I can join…

  • http://www.brandon-hall.com Janet Clarey

    My favorite is the SVU variety although I do love Criminal Intent too.

    Perhaps there’s a L&O Facebook group I can join…

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