nuts and bolts learning

Nuts and Bolts Learning

Something hit me today, when I saw a tub full of spare parts sat on a desk at work. I’ve been thinking about the elements of this subconsciously for a while, but without being able to articulate it, but now I have, nuts and bolts learning. I’ll write about this in a digital education context but I suppose it could be applied to any learning. Basically there are two key elements to any learning material; the nuts and the bolts.

The bolts of digital education is essentially the content. This is the foundation of what you are trying to achieve, the thing that is going to support the material its placed into. You can just push a bolt through a hole and it will serve its purpose, but its loose, not secure, fragile. Now imagine this is digital learning content, you can upload it in any format and it will serve it’s purpose, but it needs a nut to secure it.

The nut then exists to secure the bolt, make sure it doesn’t slip and hold it in place. It creates a strong holding mechanism that ensures the bolt doesn’t slowly slip out of place. So in this analogy, the digital education nut is the format. With a good delivery mechanism, the bolt is then secured better, creating something for the bolt to grip onto whenever it tries to slip out of place.

There is plenty of evidence to suggest that how learning material is delivered has a major impact on the learning that has taken place and therefore the retention of the content. Whenever I have a new project on the go, my first port of call is the content. I use experts to ensure the content is correct, up to date and is of value to the learner. My job then is made much simple, I step in and add the bolts, figuring out the best format to make content engaging, interactive and appealing.

If I didn’t have that strong foundation of content though, there is no bolt. Simply placing a nut somewhere hoping it holds two bits of material together is never going to work. Having both in place gives us the best possible chance of securing what we were trying to achieve in the first place.

Finally, it’s always important to remember that not all nuts and bolts are made equal. Different materials and sizes mean stronger and weaker fixings. Some will degrade over time. If you stick the wrong nut on a bolt it might not work properly. It’s a delicate balance to get things right in the first place, but a bit of attention over time to make sure the fixing still holds will never hurt.

These are just a few thoughts on the balance of content and format when creating digital education. So the next time you are in the midst of starting a new project, think do I have the nuts and bolts learning covered?

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