Cotton bags, sewing, and listening

Frugal and savvy homemakers during the 1940s were good at saving money and managing resources. Innovative ways to re-use and re-purpose household materials helped families make ends meet. Since the 1800s, flour and other feed was packaged in fabric sacks. The packaging for flour was delivered in soft, sturdy cotton which held up under shipping and storing conditions. Household seamstresses began re-purposing the cotton fabric flour bags  into clothing for kids at some point. Wise folks in the flour industry noticed this trend and used it as a way to provide additional value to their customers. Companies provided value by printing patterns on the bags which seamstresses could then use to sew clothing. This image below shows how this activity was encouraged (photo courtesy of Vavoom Vintage.

Listening to learners

The fabric clothing trend of the '40s happened naturally. The flour companies' responses to the trend were generated as a result of someone listening and observing. Such interaction with the flour customers would have been hard to predict or produce without careful listening.

Learner preferences and trends are often non-intuitive and challenging to predict. It's important to take advantage of opportunities to gather feedback on learner preferences. By gathering and considering feedback, instructional designers can improve instruction and foster relationships of trust with learners.