What are you going to do about this?

Actionable content is doable. We expect learners to take action after comprehending the content. What they get told gives them things to accomplish, move forward or improve.

When we fail to provide actionable content, we drop the ball. We implicitly offer an ultimatum: "take it or leave it" and abdicate further responsibility. We pass up the opportunity to partner with the learner in getting past the talking stage. We expect the action to happen without our influence or example. We don't consider how the content could be revised to be actionable.

When we drop this ball, it feels to the learners like we have asked: "What are you going to do about this?" Content becomes actionable when we imply different questions for the learners to consider. We appear to be asking "Now that you have a feel for this idea, see some uses for the concept, or get what difference this distinction can make:
  • how can you be more selective the next time you're making a decision about this?
  • how can this idea help you come up with more alternatives to choose among before you make up your mind?
  • how does this concept help you see opportunities you can leverage in situations that appear unfavorable to you?
  • how can you apply this idea to troubleshooting what is not working as expected?
Questions like these imply that the content is actionable. The actions are not necessarily instrumental and physically active. The actions are certainly cognitive and considerate. They call for more reasoning, reflection and realizations. The actions in the mind come up with better decisions, designs, strategies, and diagnoses.

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