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NogginLabs was founded on the notion that custom e-learning design and development is the ultimate horizontal industry. Time and again, each new project, client, and industry proves it. The biggest advantage of the e-learning horizontal is cross-pollinating ideas from two wildly different domains. A restaurant service simulation for iPad may influence a high-fashion online retail challenge. E-learning for financial advisors in a bank could inspire a mobile outreach program for cancer survivors. This variety also keeps the creative folks at NogginLabs fresh. Fresh learning ideas and designs come from a set of constantly changing constraints.

Don't be silly: cooperative argumentation and e-learning development


Don't be silly: cooperative argumentation and e-learning development

Geoff Hyatt

Man #1: Argument is an intellectual process. Contradiction is just the automatic gainsaying of anything the other person says.

Man #2: It is NOT!

Why on earth would anyone pay a professional service to indulge a pointless argument? Monty Python’s classic “Argument Clinic” sketch gets a great deal of mileage out of this ridiculous premise, but situations can get almost this silly if e-learning development discussions are mishandled.

There might be more than one “right” way to achieve a learning objective, but the process of discovering the best way depends on the open exchange of ideas. Sometimes, views will differ.  At NogginLabs, we know that e-learning is an art and a science. Avoid Poisonous Philosophical Arguments is one of our Blueprint Laws of great development, and it’s a good rule for communication overall. 

So, when opinions are divided, how do you foster productive and beneficial communication? 


The fundamental core of all positive and productive collaboration is respect. Assume everyone is bringing his or her best to a project. Remember that everyone working on a project wants to create the best possible e-learning experience. Even when opinions differ, the goal remains the same. We’re all parts working together to make a unified whole. It’s never about winning an argument. It’s always about solving a problem. Great creative work never comes from being guarded or judgmental. To elevate the work, you must elevate everyone who contributes.

Sometimes, our understanding of past successes can stand in the way of future innovations. Water is fine for putting out a campfire, but toss it on a grease fire and it will spread. Just because something worked for one situation doesn’t mean it’s the ideal for the next. When it comes to instructional technology, one sort of content might best engage learners in a series of selectable videos, while another set of related content is better presented as an interactive conversation screen. We all come into a project with pre-conceived notions about how things should look, feel, or operate. Don’t let these things blind you to a world of possibilities.


Time, resources, budget, bandwidth, and operating systems: all these things can constrain custom e-learning development. We all must understand that part of creating the best experience for learners is working within the available parameters. But you get more out of this awareness if a team doesn't think of these things as limitations. They are also what empower the platform. At NogginLabs, we believe constraints drive innovation. And that’s why we’ve been at the top of the industry for nearly twenty years. Rather than discuss things that can’t be done, talk about how things can be done differently. Many times this leads to new and unexpected solutions.

There is no reason an argument needs to become silly. By framing discussions in the context of cooperation rather than competition, by being respectful of everyone, by remaining open to new ideas, and by putting our learners first, we embrace a supportive creative spirit. It’s the heart of all high-functioning teams. But, most importantly, it’s how we learn from—and teach—one another.