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Posts Tagged ‘learning styles’

The Big Question – Snacking Culture Response

February 3, 2010 2 comments

I was really intrigued by a post on The Learning Circuits blog regarding information snacking.  The basic premise is:

People seem to be spending less time going through information in depth and less willing to spend time on information. We seem to be snacking on information, not consuming it in big chunks.

So the post posed a few questions and I’d like to give my take on each one.

  • Has there really been a shift? Are people changing their information consumption? Are they really snacking more?

I’m not sure if the question is whether people have changed or if the ability to get the information in the bite-sized pieces has increased. Fundamentally, I think people have always wanted the quick answer but were unable to just have the information so readily handed to them. It was required to read through manuals or attend conferences or read research papers to get the information they were looking for. Now, with the wealth of information that can be found quickly and easily online, people no longer HAVE to look deeper. And I’m not sure that is a bad thing.

People are now able to work more efficiently by finding their quick answers and getting on with the task at hand. So what if they don’t know the story behind the information. If that is something they feel they need to know then they can go find that information too.

  • Do we need to think about instruction differently? Is it a matter of better design so that people are engaged beyond a snack?

Yes, (make that a big, resounding yes) we need to think about instruction differently. And I think the second question is the problem. People will only learn if they are interested in the topic. By trying to make people interested in something they aren’t currently interested in, aren’t we taking the responsibility of learning off the learner? Why do we feel the need to force extra information onto someone who doesn’t need it?

Now, I’m not saying, “Don’t provide extra information.” Provide all the information. Disclose everything you know about the subject but form it in a way that people can get the base idea (the quick fix) and then, if they feel compelled and interested, they can look farther.

In short, take the pressure off the instructor and put it on the student. (Side note, I’m talking about adult learning here. Children aren’t really attuned to knowing what it is they NEED to learn for the most part and wouldn’t be able to comply very well with this model.)

  • Is this a problem? I feel like it’s harder to get a deep conversation going, especially in a twitter world. But maybe that’s me. How can we effectively work and learn in an information snacking world?

Snacking is not a problem.  Just like when dealing with food and hunger…are you going to sit down to a 5 course meal every time you are hungry? No way! That is just ridiculous. So why are we expecting people to sit down for hours worth of training every time they need to learn something?

I have not sat through hours of training in years (lucky me) and I’m functioning VERY well. I am learning new things every day because I snack CONSTANTLY. And the funny thing is, one snack often leads to another and to another and to another and usually each snack is something I can put to use right away rather than information that just sits around for me to forget.

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Educate by Element

January 20, 2010 Leave a comment

I have been struck yet again by the thoughts of Sir Ken Robinson. This guy is absolutely brilliant! The new video I watched today is below. It’s long but WONDERFUL! I highly recommend taking the time to watch it.

Sir Ken Robinson from NYSCATE on Vimeo.

Now, I really don’t see where this has so much to do with Instructional Design in the sense that I work with it. But as a parent, this really struck a chord. I was lucky enough with my son (first born) to not run into much of a problem in school. He is a fairly well-rounded child who loves to learn just about anything put in front of him. Other than an attention problem, he is the public school system’s perfect child.

My daughter is not the same. She is a good kid and everyone tends to tell me how sweet she is but she has no desire to learn to read or count or write. Mind you, this isn’t because she isn’t smart enough to; it is because, since the age of 2, she has decided that she will do everything on HER time schedule. She can read, when she feels like it. She can count by 5’s like a pro but by 2’s only every other day. Basically, she is having a very hard time in school because they haven’t yet broken her will (she’s in 1st grade) and she still believes she will do it when SHE feels like doing it.

However, she loves babies, children, socializing, and animals. I have no problems getting her to read if I tell her she needs to read her babies a story. If there was some way the school system could take advantage of this fact, my world would be a better place. And I have a good feeling I’m not alone.

Revolutionize schools to teach to kids’ elements (as Sir Ken Robinson calls them). This world needs a variety of people in it, there is no reason everyone needs to learn exactly the same things in school at the same age. Yes, everyone needs to be able to read to a certain level and usually need to know some math and science but why in the world do we force it upon everyone in the same way at the same age as if they were all being trained for the same job?

I wish I knew a way to change the schools to better fit the students rather than trying to fit the students to the schools. Life would be so much more enjoyable for everyone.

My Problem

October 20, 2009 Leave a comment

I think I’ve figured out what my issue in this funk I’m in. I’m a mentor working with people who are used to having a teacher. Most of the campus is still of the school of thought that things can only be taught in a classroom environment. I feel the classroom is not a good use of time. I want to personalize learning and they want a boxed approach. Conflicting ideals working toward the same goal.

Which Learning Style?

April 27, 2009 Leave a comment

Most of my days are spent doing one-on-one type support over a large array of software and hardware issues. I’m like an in-depth tech support. Over the past month I have been able to do work with my favorite thing: online courses. It’s been great but it has also been extremely challenging. In my past experience with creating content for online learning I have had the benefit of knowing my audience was one that liked to learn online. This is extremely helpful. As we all know, teaching someone who is comfortable with learning online is a much easier task than teaching someone who is not comfortable with learning online. Suddenly, I found myself dealing with 6 courses worth of people (instructors) who taught online but did not necessarily learn well online. In the beginning, I had an idea what type of problems this would cause but really didn’t have a clue.

Problem #1 – The majority of the “students” really had no desire to learn anything new. They were being forced into it because we are changing the LMS whether they like it or not.

Problem #2 – The change from WebCT to ANGEL is pretty substantial. WebCT is a very structured area only allowing you to place content in specific locations. ANGEL is a very open area allowing you to create the entire design of your course on your own. There was a pretty even split of people who liked this and hated this.

Problem #3 – The majority of the “students” do not do well in an online format even though they are online instructors. We did provide the opportunities for them to come to face-to-face sessions but many did not attend.

Problem #4 – Due to the large number of “students” we had an extremely wide variety of learning styles. Creating content that suited them all in one shot was nearly impossible.

So I found myself (the only Instructional Designer and one of the only SME’s) juggling what I thought was best for the learner, what I could produce fastest (we are on a strict timeline), and what I knew the most about. This was not a fun juggling act.

I find interactive content the best way for learners to learn and retain information. So I created Captivate tutorials whenever possible. I also know from experience in this institution that people love to have printed out instructions of specific tasks. So I tried to incorporate as many printable references as I could while putting together afore mentioned Captivate tutorials. Thank goodness for ANGEL’s doc files they were so gratious as to give to us for our editing and using as we needed. It was much easier to simply splice a piece of their instruction manual to use as the printable reference rather than have to make one on my own. Much time saved there. I’m also thankful for their in-depth instructor reference manual, Tony Suess, and the ANGEL-L ListServ from which I attained a good portion of my ANGEL knowledge.

Where am I going with this? Really, I’m not sure. My brain is pretty much friend at this point.

I guess my point was, how do you successfully balance the learning styles without overkilling the audience on information? It is my hopes to go back through the course I made and add printable references for every Captivate tutorial. But I’ve begun wondering if I shouldn’t also go through and add simple non-interactive screen capture videos for each item also. This would be for the people who don’t like to read the printed version but don’t want to take the time of doing the interactive version. So many different ways of learning. How in the world do we cover them all cohesively?