Learning is in a Holding Pattern

On a flight this week I noticed that safety awareness efforts by flight attendants is slowly being replaced by video demonstration on small monitors in the headrest (newer planes). Outsourcing this task to technology, like in other situations, can free people up to focus on other important tasks.  This is a chance to really improve learning because video has many affordances to increase attention and learning about safety as the demonstration have become white noise; ignored by most everyone. As I watched with great hope, I was disappointed to find the video is only a replica of the flight attendant demonstration… sigh – a common occurrence though where new technology support an old practice.
They chose to infuse humor into the demonstration which frankly only made me remember the corny gags and not the important actions to take or why to take them. That is the real miss. They leave to assumption that one knows why to do or not do something. Yes, making an emotional appeal is the right action but humor is not the right emotion to trigger. The reason we aren’t supposed to smoke, we are to remain seated with seat belts on, and know how to use the oxygen masks are for safety and safety is serious.
Why not show me what can happen if my seat is unbuckled or my tray table isn’t up? What happens if objects shifted during flight? No, I don’t need to see a skull get crushed but this could be done creatively, without instilling fear through evocative reenactment. Video is the perfect medium. Show me the why/ why not and not just the how and where. Connect the right emotion, with the right content, in the right context and one is more apt to remember when it really matters.

Oh, and while your at it, show me why it doesn’t hurt to ask the 6′ tall guy behind you if it’s ok to put your seat back before pinning his knees or snapping his laptop screen.

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