What interests me most about learning is its potential to inspire change: ideally a measurable change in behavior, but barring that, at least a shift in attitude or understanding.
Very often, we decide we want something to change, we decide to create a course, lesson, document, or some other package of information that learners will absorb and, voila, change!
What if, though, in many cases it’s not actually a lack of information that’s preventing learners from doing things differently?
A couple of weeks ago, I was pondering how to create educational games that allow learners to practice avoiding common advertising tricks. I had hit a wall after play testing several game prototypes. Simultaneously, I was also lamenting the existence of holiday gifts, and how much pressure there is to buy meaningful gifts for an ever-widening circle of receivers within a commercial sea of expensive candles and scented lotions.
That was the moment of inspiration for Gift Instead, my latest project.
What if, instead of trying to teach about advertising, we just gave people tools to opt out of the whole purchase-more-oriented system – well, at least for giving and receiving holiday gifts this year?
Gift Instead is a web site that lets users create, customize, and share purchase-free gift lists. Users can explore prewritten ideas for purchase-free gifts, but they can also create their own.
My awesome husband Brian did most of the heavy lifting with piecing together a framework for the site and was my brainstorming partner in making this project come alive.
I’m really excited about the site we created. It’s still officially in beta mode, but it’s a very functional beta: please feel free to try your hand at creating and sharing a wish list and do send me any feedback about your experience.
I’ll probably revisit the idea of educational games about advertising schemes in the future. However, I really enjoyed working on another potential path into that same sort of change – less needless stuff purchased – by creating a tool rather than a packaged educational experience.