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Spotlight – Matthew Mason

I’m the Chief Learning Architect for Superb Learning, an innovative content development and training business that works with individuals, training organisations and corporate training departments to develop effective and engaging training resources that result in better training, better outcomes and better returns. We turn their expertise into innovative and engaging online resources, using the SUPERB principles of good learning experience design. Using modern instructional design methodologies, combined with the latest educational technologies, I develop a range of training resources including print based resources, elearning resources and digital publications.


  1. Why did you become a learning and development professional?

Becoming an L&D professional was something I fell into. After a period working training racehorses in Japan, I returned to Australia and took up an instructor role at a training organisation (based in Brisbane) for stablehands and apprentice jockeys across Queensland. I soon started delivering classroom training and found that the resources we had available were poor quality and didn’t provide the information needed. I was given the task of redeveloping them, which started me on my instructional design pathway. A few years later, all of the training bodies (one for each state) in the racing industry got together to develop a suite of resources that could be used nationally. After the initial 2 day workshop, the consensus was that 80% of the Queensland training materials (aka developed by me) would be used in the national project. It was at this point that I figured I was doing something right and decided to focus my career on instructional design and become an L&D professional.


  1. What do you enjoy most about what you do?

The most enjoyable thing I do is designing. I enjoy looking at designing solutions to problems and designing ways to deliver content so people have the skills and knowledge to perform their work and deal with the problems. I enjoy looking at how technology can be used to deliver the content and provide a memorable and engaging learning experience.


  1. What do you find most challenging?

The most challenging part of my role is getting people to see that the online content they have seen (usually bring click next, next, yawn… compliance courses) is not the standard and trying to get them to move into more innovative ways to deliver content.


  1. What do you do to be recognised as a valued business partner?

As a valued business partner I look beyond the reason I have been contacted by a client and work with them to explore other opportunities for content design and delivery that they might also have seen. I also work on not just providing a resource, but working with the people in the teams to educate them, to develop their skills and knowledge to allow them to continue to develop innovative learning solutions.


  1. What advice would you give to someone new to this line of work?

My three pieces of advice to someone new to instructional design would be:

  1. Embrace technology – Look at how it can be used to design, develop and deliver engaging learning experiences (both in a face-to-face environment but also in the online and virtual space). But, while embracing technology remember that “even though it is shiny, it needs to have substance”. Don’t get caught up with the shiny tech that is not providing a substantial benefit or learning experience.
  2. Play – Play with the tools. Have fun developing content. Even if you don’t have a piece of work directly related to a tool or innovative concept just jump in and play. Create a prototype or sample.
  3. Network – Join networking groups (face-to-face and online) and network, collaborating with like minded people. Work out loud sharing your experiences and examples of what you have created. Be helpful in your network providing assistance and advice where possible but also don’t be afraid to ask your network for help.


  1. What really good advice have you been given that has helped you in your career?

My good advice I have received (from a few sources) has been to network, work out loud, share and help others. One piece of advice was in the form of a quote “your network is equal to your net worth”.


  1. What’s one of the most helpful books that you’ve read?

Design for how people learn – Julie Dirksen


  1. What’s one of the most valuable learning events that you’ve attended?

I would have to list my first ILP Conference as one of the most valuable learning events. Through that event I have developed a number of friendships, colleagues and clients.


  1. Who do you think is an inspirational member of the training industry, and why?

Don Clark, I saw at a conference last year, was very inspirational. He was quite outspoken and challenged a lot of what is seen as “truths” in the L&D space, but aren’t actually backed up by research. It was inspiring to listen to him and consider that we need to not do things a certain way ‘just because’ but look at what evidence there is and look for alternatives.


  1. What is your guilty pleasure?

My biggest guilty pleasure is playing with technology. I love playing with it and trying to create new and inspiring learning experiences. Anyone that comes to my office will see my “toys” which include point-of-view glasses, 360 degree cameras, virtual reality headsets and my latest toy – a mixed reality headset that will overlay digital content in the real world. I have fun playing and seeing what great things I can create.