Book Review Engage the WORL&D by Zsolt Olah

I was not paid, coerced, or asked to do this book review.  I did it because I wanted to 🙂

When I first heard about the whimsical Zsolt Olah writing a book, I knew one thing….it would be different than any other learning and development book I have ever read.  If you would like to hear Zsolt talk more about the book in his own words, check out this TLDCast episode.  If you are looking for the next Dick, Dick, and Carey book, you are barking up the wrong tree.  If you are looking for an entertaining read peppered with real-life examples from Zsolt’s 20+ years in learning and development then you have come to the right place.

Engage the WORL&D starts off with a map of The WORL&D and an invitation to zap it using the Zappar augmented reality app.  When you do so, you are introduced to LI DOE (The Last ID On Earth) and your guide throughout the book.

Who wore LI DOE better?  Palpatine or me?!

Throughout the book, you will see LI DOE go through a transformation as the gender-neutral hero travels the world and performs instructional design tasks. This is framed in a humorous story that reminds me of a modern Chaucer Canterbury Tale.  In order to perform the learning and development tasks, LI DOE uses the Magic Mojo Hexad (an instructional design competency model that looks like the baby of a Simon boardgame and Trivial Pursuit wedge holder).  As you read each chapter, you unlock one of the missing traits of the Magic Mojo Hexad to help aid LI DOE on the adventure. The name of the places on the map also help you remember the topic the chapter focuses on.

My favorite chapter was the one focused on Human-Centered Design.  Zsolt starts the chapter explaining how important it is for learning and development to focus on the NOW and focus on our users.  So many times I have seen (I’m sure many of us have) the use of technology because it is shiny and new.

I hope this song is stuck in your head now, too 🙂 Disney’s Moana, all rights reserved.

Zsolt then says something that I love:

“…you don’t want learning to stick.  You want people to stick with learning” (p. 111)

The examples of gamification in this chapter are great, including the shout out to one of my favorite shows, Top Chef. I love the challenges in this chapter including playing a new game every week and asking who you are in the game, the goal, and what does or does not make it engaging.  Personally, video games have played a big role in my creative development in learning and development.  In a future blog, I will be sharing some of my favorite games and how they have influenced me in instructional design.

This is not just a passive read.  In one chapter that focuses on critical thinking, you are asked to recall information about an earlier story.  I admit that I failed.  Zsolt thought about the reader while crafting the story, peppering in an experience, and having the reader focus on what they already know about the topic and how they can improve their own learning.

The true reward for reading this book has to be the resources.  Highlights include LI DOE’s AI Framework (with a built-in sense of humor) and Stuff To Read (Zsolt’s extensive list of book recommendations).

Engage the WORL&D is a book that doesn’t take itself too seriously but that does not mean you should overlook the advice and resources throughout.  It was a lighthearted read that I enjoyed on my Amazon Kindle.  I’d recommend this book to folks newer to instructional design because it shares many lessons that you do not want to learn the hard way.  Excellent read and I’d highly recommend.

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