Aug 5, 2008

Break the chains of learning

The player navigation is just a way to get from one piece of information to the other. That’s not instructional design.

Another great post from Tom at the Rapid E-Learning Blog. It discusses the problem with locking the navigation to a course to force all learners to go through the content linearly.

This piggybacks on the last post regarding the Whole Brain model. Learners learn differently. Trying to force a learning style on someone that doesn't fit is likely to cause problems.

Instead, design a course that compels the learner to want engage with the course.
  • Guide the learner through the course, rather than forcing the navigation.
  • Give the learners the freedom to demonstrate their level of understanding.
  • Make the content relevant to the learners.
It's time to give the learners more credit. Many want to click right through because they expect the training to be stale, they are not clear on how its relevant to their jobs and it doesn't cause much of an impact. By designing courses that focus on a desired outcome rather than a delivery of content, the learners will appreciate the courses more... and they're much more fun to build.

Aug 1, 2008

The Whole Brain Model

"We do not see things as they are, we see things as we are" - The Talmud

Have you noticed that people learn things in different ways? For example, I am a visual learner. I need to see an illustration, photo, or video of something to understand how it works. Someone else might just be able to read a description to understand it. And another person needs to be able to manipulate it before it makes sense to her.

This relates to the concept of Multiple Intelligences and it shows that people have unique learning styles. Courses need to evolve from one-dimensional presentations to a more flexible style that can really reach a broader audience of learners.

The Whole Brain Model
The Whole Brain Model is based on the concept that our different modes of learning are distributed among the four quadrants of the brain. Each quadrant is focused on specific thinking processes. However while you may be stronger in one of the quadrants (I fluctuate between A and D), you have some degree of all quadrant traits in you.

These connections between the four quadrants are there, but they may be weak. So when faced with a learning method that is not a learner's dominant style, there may be uncomfortable, unpracticed or frustrating experiences. On the other end of the spectrum, if you cater only to the dominant learning style, then there is less of a challenge and the training becomes boring.

The idea is to find that balance between boring the learner and anxiety.

Source: Biech, E. (Ed.). (2008). ASTD handbook for workplace learning professionals. Alexandria, VA: ASTD Press.

Teach them how to think, rather than do

Telling ain't training. It's been said before many times. Yet, many courses still take the approach of 'just tell them what they need to know'.

Well, Cathy Moore brings up a good point when she says "It’s easiest to just tell them what to do, but what we need to do is to teach them how to think."

Adult learners want to know that the time they invest in training will be immediately valuable to their job. Part of accomplishing that is to present scenarios that do not portray solid black-or-white instances. Let there be some ambiguity, because that's what real life is, right?

Remember, the goal of training is to change behavior. So give learners a chance to make decisions and then show the results of those decisions. Not all of them will be the correct ones, but by understanding why it was incorrect and how to improve upon it will be more effective than just clicking through multiple choice quizzes.