Another dot in the blogosphere?

Messaging: Engagement is not enough

Posted on: April 14, 2020

Telling people they must “social distance” in the age of COVID-19 is an important but abstract message. It does not tell describe the ease of infection and the consequence of not being physically apart or even isolated.

The video in the tweet above makes the abstract concept more concrete. In the realm of communication and teaching, one might say that the video “engages” because it is short and visually interesting.

I enjoyed the illustration and see how it is a means to an end, i.e., communicating effectively in a bid to change behaviours. But here is the rub — it is not enough to engage because that is about getting and holding attention.

To change behaviour, one also has to provide agency and to empower. There is far too much rhetoric on engaging our learners. There is not enough on empowering them to change, learn, and make a difference.

Agency is giving learners the opportunities to make decisions. Empowerment is enabling them to take meaningful and self-driven action.

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