Overcoming Reluctance to Learn & Baby Duck Syndrome

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Instructional designers often encounter high levels of reluctance to change in the corporations in which they work. In human behavior, Baby Duck Syndrome is a term to refer to the reluctance of people to accept technological changes and improvement. Different generations may suffer from it in varying degrees.

The term has been borrowed from the biological imprinting of young animals. Imprinting refers to a critical time early in an animal’s life when it forms attachments and develops a concept of its own identity. Birds and mammals are born with a pre-programmed drive to imprint onto their mother.  Whatever the ducks see moving within a few hours after they hatch, they follow.

Once human users are familiar with a system and confident using it, they struggle to change their habits.

They perceive sticking with what they know as easier than learning something new. Like baby ducks, they have ‘imprinted’ on the system they learned first.

How many times have you heard colleagues or family members complaining about an upgrade of some kind? Perhaps you have been annoyed by changes to an operating system, social media platform or website that you use regularly.

It explains why some people have strong feelings about this question: “Apple or Android, which is better?” 

But, once you have experienced the benefits of the new platform or the new technology, would you ever go back to the old?

Most of us would not!

As an instructional designer, your role is to create training that can help employees perform their jobs better. To increase their engagement, their motivation to learn new things and to win their ‘buy in’, it’s important that you help them EXPERIENCE the benefit of the new.

Do you want them to upskill and venture out of their comfort zones? Do you want them to overcome their Baby Duck Syndrome? How do you get them to do that?

Educators have to have a deep understanding of learning before they can become effective in teaching and training.  You need to put yourself in your trainee’s shoes and empathize with them so that you can create better learning opportunities for them in your training.

Here’s a practical example to challenge you. There is a new tool that can help you plan and create branched scenarios better; find out about the Branched Scenario Planning Tool

How many readers clicked and tried it out or signed up for a free trial? How many of us want to experience something new?

Independent testing by instructional designers showed that this tool can save you heaps of time. It’s about 40% faster than other popular content authoring tools. It can help you do your job better and in almost half the time. Click here to see a quick 30 second demo video of the SimTutor branched scenario planning tool.

View a quick 30-second demo video of the SimTutor branched scenario planning tool.


Storyboard anything from basic simulations to complex branch scenarios. Creators can now plan and create powerful eLearning programs with an easy drag and drop tool.

Are you ready to experience something different?

Your learners may feel the same as you. They want to see and understand how your training will benefit them and their job performance before they feel motivated to make the effort of taking the training and learning the skills, software or tools that will enhance their workplace performance.

The best way to get them motivated, is to create an EXPERIENCE where they will not only see, but also FEEL the benefits of the training. Show them how they will perform better.

This is why effective training must include simulations and scenario-based learning. It must offer trainees the opportunities to see and DO and experience the benefits of their new skills.

And SimTutor makes creating simulations and scenario-based elearning so much easier for you. The drag-and-drop features of this distintictive content authoring tool make planning and editing branched scenarios and other interactive training as easy as 1-2-3. And the best part is that you can ADD it to your existing tools. You can keep on using the tools you know and love. No need to abandon your mother duck!

Overcoming baby duck syndrome need not be a challenge, neither for you nor for your learners.

About the author


SimTutor Inc is a global leader in simulation-based learning.

SimTutor Author is an authoring tool designed to help you build interactive procedural simulations and branched scenarios for any industry where realistic, just-in-time, measurable training is critical. 

SIMTICS is a library of ready-to-use simulations for learning medical and healthcare procedures and skills, powered by SimTutor Author.