Zoom Design

Zoom Design

Zoom design is an instructional systems design technique consisting of:

  1. Displaying a big-picture view of what is to be learned, akin to the "establishing shot" of a house in the opening of a film

  2. Zooming in to a sequence of detailed close-ups to explain the content in detail, in separate lessons

Good design also periodically "zooms out" for a big-picture view of where the learning-of-the-moment fits into the larger plan and sequence—for an integrated vision of the whole.

Part III: Ten Learning Masters

Chapter List

General Concepts A to Z

Part Overview

... gladly would he learn, and gladly teach.

—Geoffrey Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales, A.D. 1390

Ten Learning Masters

Moses: The Ten Commandments of Learning Design and Delivery

And in the midst of the fire the Lord wrote ten commandments upon two tablets of stone and commanded Moses: "Teach."

—Deuteronomy 4 (800 B.C.)

The earliest learning that was designed before it was delivered occurred in the West with Moses and the Ten Commandments, and in the East with Confucius' Great Learning. In the West, the Old Testament is the first great document on written learning design and knowledge transfer, be it for an individual, a small group, or an organization.

These learning principles still hold true today, most obviously in training that requires the memorization of high-level strategic points, axioms, precepts, or first principles. If one is to transmit a new mission statement to an organization, for instance, this type of learning would be in order. Although no longer our sole method of knowledge transfer, memorization is still a vital component in any learning system. Using the Ten Commandments as examples, here are ten meta-commandments on how to design and deliver training.

The Ten Commandments of Learning Design and Delivery

  1. Learning Design

    1. Be Clear

      Compose your points as bullets and keep them simple.

      Example: "Honor thy father and mother."

    2. Be Brief

      Do not overwhelm with too many bullets, for the people are a forgetful and distracted lot. Number the commandments 1 to 10, for instance, so the people can count them on their fingers, after they've gone home (as a job aid).

      Example: "Here are the ten statutes that I speak in your hearing today so that you may learn them."

    3. Define Key Terms and Give Examples

      Example: "A graven image is a carving, as in the carving of the likeness of a winged bird."

    4. Sequence Points from Most Important to Least Important

      Open your sequence with the most important point: "Thou shalt have no other gods."

      Close with the least important: "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's donkey."

    5. Dramatize Points: Capture Attention

      Utilize story-based metaphors, embedding axioms and precepts in vivid scenarios.

      Example: Inform students that your axioms appeared in the night on a distant mountaintop, which was "wrapped in thick darkness, clouds, and gloom, and is burning with fire."

  2. Learning Delivery

    1. Leverage Emerging Technology

      The Ten Commandments deploy the latest technology—the invention of writing. Writing was so new in fact that God himself had to design the first prototype, before carrying out the knowledge transfer (train the trainer) to Moses. Moses then carried the two stone tablets to the people and read them out loud, for the people could not yet read the new technology.

    2. Use Train-the-Trainer Sessions

      The Lord delivers no fewer than eight train-the-trainer sessions on Mount Sinai to ensure that Moses will deliver the ten lessons correctly to his people.

    3. Build Blended Solutions

      God tells Moses to deliver the commandments both instructor-led and through the technology of writing:

      • "Thou shalt talk of them."

      • "Thou shalt write them."

      Don't forget the power of a blended solution.

    4. Make it Portable: Remember the Mobile User (the Roving Nomad)

      The Lord instructs Moses to write the commandments on two stones, so that they are portable, and also to construct a wooden box (ark) to carry them in so that they can be transported from camp to camp. During their forty years in the desert, the nomadic users will thus have immediate access to the learning database.

    5. Anytime, Anywhere Learning: In the Palm of Your Hand

      "Thou shalt write the ten commandments upon the door posts of thy house, upon every gate, on the headband between thy eyes and yea, even in the palm of thy hand."

      Follow-on performance support is crucial to any learning initiative.

Now get thee hence and beget much learning, for bad design and ineffectual delivery is a weariness unto the flesh!


The Old Testament: Exodus and Deuteronomy chapters