Recently someone showed me a PowerPoint presentation that had to be sent to senior stakeholders immediately (of course) and it was clear that it was not going to wow them. I said to my team “It’s OK, I’ll sprinkle some pixie dust on it.” This was in reference to my ability to make PowerPoint NOT look like PowerPoint. We are trying to spread ideas and we have such short windows of opportunity to get in front of people. We need to engage them. We need to EARN their attention. We need pixie dust: interesting approaches to graphic representation (read: eye candy.)
But Pixie Dust isn’t learning. It may be the price of entry, the hook. It may be what you need to attract learners but it isn’t learning. Learning is in the structure of ideas and frameworks of understanding. Learning is in the internalizing of stories.
Often we paste the term “Learning” onto a tool and we try to make it seem like this somehow makes it special. Learning Management System, Learning Authoring Tools, Virtual Learning. When you really look at these tools they aren’t that special and no amount of Learning “Pixie Dust” is going to make them separate from other tools. We use other tools to track usage, set up events, share screens, design pages. Calling them “Learning” tools seems to only benefit the software companies that make them.
What this does is it gives us a blind spot. When we think we must use learning tools for learning, we close off so many other solutions. We are blinded by our own Pixie Dust.