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Posts Tagged ‘questions’

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.

Show Me the Training!!

August 4, 2009 Leave a comment

In the year or so I’ve been working officially as an instructional designer, I’ve made many, MANY tutorials on how to do tasks in commonly used software. I have the fear of being bland and uninteresting. I read so much stuff about online instruction that I often get confused. I am not an online instructor (most of the time), I am simply a person providing how-to’s in an online environment. It is amazing to me how different those two roles really are. If you are simply providing how-to’s it is necessary to get the point across and show the learner whatever it was they came there to learn as fast and thoroughly as possible. If you are an online instructor you must gain the audiences interest and provide them with interactive materials (that is also helpful in the how-to’s occasionally) and explain a subject thoroughly but not too thoroughly that it becomes boring and assess their learning and…. Obviously, there is a lot involved.

So, back to the voyeuristic tendencies. Since I’ve been making all these how-to’s I’ve become extremely curious how other businesses take care of these needs. If you do make your own, what do they look like? I’ve seen the tutorials at Atomic Learning and I’ve seen the videos on WonderHowTo. Where do your place of employment’s how-to’s fall? Are they somewhere I can see them? Would you be willing to share?

Categories: General Tags: ,

Learning vs Training

June 5, 2009 4 comments

Learning vs Training

So, what is the difference between learning and training? My immediate reaction is this: learning is what the receiver of training is supposed to be doing. In my mind learning and training are very closely tied but not at all to be confused. An instructor or trainer gets up and does training (or goes online depending on the situation). The user or student attends and does the learning (or is supposed to but usually that isn’t the case).

Education vs Training

Now, Jane Bozarth took this a step farther by changing learning to education. While I wouldn’t usually equate the two, I did find the resulting comparison very intriguing. What is the difference between education and training? The average, ordinary, non-training, non-education based person would probably say they are the same thing. Both require someone to present information which then must be sucked up by someone else.

The key here is the type of information presented and what that information will then be used for. Sometimes it is even distinguished by the user. I suppose I should delve a little deeper on those ideas to make myself clear.

Type of Information Presented

Most people would probably agree what you learn in school is education. These are usually basic concepts and skills to be used later in life.  I think I would also classify education as finding information on your own that will help you out in your life. Most people would probably agree what you are forced to learn to do your job is training. These are usually specific instructions on how to do tasks related to your specific job. They won’t necessarily help you in any other aspect of your life.

The User

Some people are just natural born learners. They thrive on learning new things and can turn even the most boring training session into a wonderful learning experience. In this case, the learner turns the training into education. Some people are not natural born learners so I guess you could say they turn the wonderful broad education into a horrible training experience (but this often isn’t the case).

So, after much rambling, what I’m trying to say is: education is information you can use through many parts of your life and training is much more narrow and specific, learning is what the person gaining the knowledge is doing and training is what the person sharing the knowledge is doing. These definitions show the extreme difference between training as a verb and training as a noun and how negative many people (including myself) have begun to perceive it….and I’m a trainer.

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