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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

School House Rock, School of Rock

Remember School House Rock? It was a fun, interesting way to learn the boring aspects of conjunctions, how a bill becomes a law and multiplication tables (remember 3 is a magic number.)

This type of knowledge is known in academic circles as declarative and conceptual knowledge. Information that must be memorized as well as concepts to be understood…like what is a bill (listen to song). The powerful thing about School House Rock is the impact it had on my memory (and others). I can still sing “conjunction, conjunction…what’s your function? Hook’n up phrases…”

Interestingly, I find few memories of learning anything in a formal classroom setting that even comes close to having the “staying power” of the jingles, songs and rhymes of School House Rock. Perhaps, as designers of learning events, we need to re-think the stale, static nature of our presentations and focus on adding music, rhymes and “catch phrases” to our learning events.

Are you using words on a screen for your PowerPoint slides or e-learning modules? Consider creating a “story” or theme with your presentation, add some royalty free music to your e-learning module, add audio of sounds, not just your typical stale, static narrator but bells and whistles. Add life to your e-learning. Follow the lead of the School House Rock folks…they knew how to conduct training.

Another person that knew how to conduct effective training is guitarist Dewey Finn (played by Jack Black) in the movie School of Rock. Dewey is anti-establishment rocker who lands a “gig” teaching students in a prep school. The school is typical, desks all in a row, highly structured activities and kids bored out of their minds.

Dewey tells them they are working on a project called “Rock Band.” Each student is assigned a task based on their individual strengths. They are given homework like “listen to Pink Floyd.”(talk about discovery learning)

They work together as a team to create a final product. They evaluate themselves on the quality of the product and not on how they stack up to one another. A one point, a grade grubbing student cons someone into allowing the band to play and Dewey says, “Hey summer, you get 12 gold stars and an A+” She replies, “I didn’t do it for the grade.”

What an education for these kids. They learned about working together, cooperation, playing to their strengths, intrinsic motivation and how to integrate learning and fun….this movie should be required of every school teacher, trainer and instructional designer.

Take a cue from School of Rock and School House Rock to move your learning events to a higher level in terms of fun, retention and learning experience. Check out the School of Rock Trailer.


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Brent Schlenker said...

Hi Karl! I loved School of Rock. Better yet my wife and kids loved it too. Sound is powerful and talking with others will always be more powerful than txting to others. Podcasting is great and becoming popular because its easy for anyone to create and publish. The barriers of creation are mostly gone.
Great post!

Karl Kapp said...


Thanks for the note, we watch School of Rock over and over again, I enjoy it every time. The music, the kids the energy...and you are right, the barriers for creative energy are gone.

Well I am glad we agree on this issue:) although it doesn't seem as much fun to be agreeing on a topic as it was to debate a topic.:)