Friday, July 23, 2010

Does the Learner or Audience Know?

The Hindi movie Raavan came with a lot of hype and hoopla. The movie revolves around the character of Raavan,an evil king in the famous epic Ramayana. However, the film Raavan did not seem to make an impact on filmgoers, inspite of actor Abhishek’s histrionics. Abhishek’s superstar father Amitabh blamed social media for sealing the fate of a movie before it is screened. He also expressed anguish over random editing of the scenes where Abhishek brings out the shades of the character Raavan.

What was peculiar about Raavan’s character? Raavan is said to have 10 heads, each head depicting one of the 10 evil qualities he has. The ten heads represent passion, pride, anger, greed, infatuation, lust, hatred, jealousy, and selfishness. Raavan exhibits the evil nature of any of the 10 heads as the situation demands. Yet another interpretation exists for the the heads of Raavan( thank god, there aren't 10 different interpretations). Raavan's description as a ten-headed person means that he has thorough knowledge of the four Vedas and six Upanishads, which made him as powerful as 10 Hindu scholars.

However, the fans watching the movie Raavan saw Abhishek jumping from one erratic behavior to another. And sometimes they were confused about what he was upto! During the editing of the movie Raavan, the scene where Abhishek is shown with 10 heads has been cut off. Amitabh believes that the viewers would have understood why Abhishek behaved erratically if the corresponding head(or all the 10 heads)was shown before each scene.
Replying to Amitabh, Maniratnam, the director of the movie, said that he assumed that all moviegoers were intelligent enough to understand that Abhsihek was enacting the 10 shades of Raavan. However, it is evident the viewers were not able to correlate Abhishek’s acting with the 10 heads and they missed the point. The movie crew and a intellectual majority would have understood the reason behind every histrionic of Raavan. But, the majority of the masses were groping in the dark. So, the editing crew had made assumptions about the smartness and comprehension of the audience.

The same scenario holds good when an (Instructional Designer)ID designs a course. The ID and SME understand the source content and how the topic will flow. But, the learner is in the dark. The ID has to remember that he/she is writing the course for a newbie of the subject and that they are not writing a course for the approval of SMEs who guide course development. So, the graphics, audio, animation, and text sequence has to be designed keeping in mind the learner, who is usually a newbie to the subject you are e-teaching!

The ID must conduct a learner analysis or audience analysis. Learner analysis help to tailor the course to the learner's capabilities and needs. So, learner analysis saves the average learner from groping in the dark!

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