The Three-way Battle: Entertainment, Information, Education
Despite the record number of deaths, the devastation to the economy, and the social isolation, the dark cloud of COVID-19 has had some silver linings. Nature rebounded, technology advanced, and the amount of online content soared. So much free content is available that many do not want to pay for professional development anymore. But the adage often remains the same: you get what you pay for. Much of the content is really more informational or entertaining than educational. What’s the difference?
- Entertainment: These programs stimulate your brain momentarily or provide some form of escapism. Nobody believes you are going to remember the details of the content for more than a few hours after the event. This category includes web broadcasts of shows, concerts, interviews, and silly animal videos.
- Information: These are one-way presentations of data, where the viewer listens to someone present data or opinions. Interaction with the audience is limited to a Question and Answer period in the end. The goal is to share data, with the hope that the viewers remember it for a few days or follow the call-to-action. This category includes presentations, lectures, debates, and panel discussions.
- Education: These programs involve two-way communications where the viewer needs to interact and use the information during the session. The goal here is to build skills or make a long-term change to the way the viewer thinks, feels, or acts. This category includes webinars with homework assignments, interactive discussions, and demonstrations.
How do you know if you should give professional development credit for a program? The following questions can help you decide:
- Do you want staff to stay abreast of current developments (information) or improve their skills (education)? You can give credit for either but know what you want.
- Do the learning objectives and goals for the session use words like “understand” or “be aware of?” If so, this is going to be an information session.
- Is it a one-time offering or a multi-session course? Multi-session courses are more likely to be educational, as there is more time available for homework and feedback.