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Monday, October 02, 2006

Design: The Long Tail of Instructional Design

Chris Anderson, author of a book titled The Long Tail, noted that products that are in low demand or have low sales volume can collectively make up a market share that rivals or exceeds the relatively few current bestsellers and blockbusters. He called this The Long Tail after the statistic phenomenon.

You can get a more indepth definition at The Long Tail entry at Wikipedia. You can also check out an article on the subject titled "The Long Tail" (simple enough) at Wired Magazine or check out the Chris Anderson's blog on the subject.

You can pick up the book here if you want.

It is an interesting economic concept but, also, I believe an interesting Instructional Design concept. If the idea is that every person each day will need some some book or song--even if it is only one person, would it not make sense that in an organization, everyday some person would need every piece of information that is buried in a course, manual, policy or procedure...just not everyone and just not all at once.

Every piece of information within an organization should be considered up-for-grabs... somebody needs it at some point. This thought should cause designers of training to further their work to diaggregate content. Content needs to be more searchable and accessible than ever before.

As designers we need to figure out how to create more avenues to knowledge... more summaries, abstracts, overviews, meta-data, and quick tips and techniques than every before in more formats...text, audio and video. The days of courses with hundreds of pages of information are numbered....or should be.

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