That Pesky Goldfish Attention Span Myth

I think everyone who works in the research-to-practice area has a persistent myth that annoys them the most. Mine is unquestionably the goldfish attention span one.

Here’s my pass at a video to address that (note: contains a shameless marketing plug):

If you’d like to learn more about how to engage learners, check out our course at https://designbetterlearning.com/

References:

Patti Shank’s detailed investigation: https://elearningindustry.com/8-second-attention-span-organizational-learning

Ken McCall’s Linkedin writeup (he actually ordered the book to investigate the claim, which is a gold star in my estimation):
https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/20140418171300-15742110-writing-for-goldfish/

The Ceros folks did the deepest dive into the origins, even checking the internet archive (hashtag nerdrespect!)
https://www.ceros.com/originals/no-dont-attention-span-goldfish/

Props to Entrepreneur and the BBC for not propagating the myth:
https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/321266

Design Better Learning

I’m delighted to announce the first course in my new project — Design Better Learning. It’s an online course library to help people learn to create better learning experiences.

The first course available is Sticky Learning – Learning Design for Attention and Engagement! It’s a self-study course for instructional designers and anyone designing learning experiences.

Learn more here: designbetterlearning.com

Image of the Sticky Learning Course Home Screen

Participatory Learning

So, I was reminded of Nina Simon, and her book — The Participatory Museum — this morning. She’s gone on to deal with bigger issues of community inclusion and relevance, but her first book is about how do you make museums less of a viewing experience and more of a participatory experience. This may sound like making museums more interactive, but interactive exhibits can still be mostly an experience about consuming content. She’s really talking about how do you involve the community in creating the museum.

I feel like we are just beginning to scratch the surface of this in L&D. Our audiences are full of knowledge — how could we collect and structure that to make useful learning experiences?

Screen Cap from Nina Simon's Blog at https://museumtwo.blogspot.com

Her blog is full of goodness on this — here are a few posts to get you started:

The Memory Jar Exhibit: https://museumtwo.blogspot.com/2014/06/adventures-in-evaluating-participatory.html

How do you inspire visitors to take action after they leave? https://museumtwo.blogspot.com/2017/07/how-do-you-inspire-visitors-to-take.html

Her book on The Participatory Museum (available to read online under a creative commons license): http://www.participatorymuseum.org/

 

 

 

 

Complex Skill Development

Hey folks, I’ve long thought that the instructional design toolbox is more focused on knowledge and procedural learning, and has less specifics to offer for complex skill development. I’m working on parsing some guidelines based on types of skills and problem context. This is a talk that I’ve done at a few of the elearning conferences on the topic.


 

Upcoming Events

Hey folks,

So it’s a little dusty around here, but I do actually have some plans for doing a little blogging in future. In the mean time, feel free to join the conversation in the Design for How People Learn Facebook group.  Loads of smart people talking about interesting things there:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/designforhowpeoplelearn

Design For How People Learn Image

Also thought I would mention some upcoming events. I’m doing workshops (mostly on behavior change) in quite a few places this year, so thought I’d mention it. Always interested in connecting with local L&D folks too.

Upcoming Events:

HR Excellence Center – China
Speaking on Behavior Change
May 29, 2188 | Shanghai
May 31, 2018 | Beijing
http://www.hrecchina.org/

AITD – Australian Institute of Training and Development
Annual Conference & Preconference Workshop
Design for Behaviour Change (one-day workshop)
June 6-8, 2018 | Sydney
http://www.terrapinn.com/…/About-Pre-Conference-Workshops.s…

2018 Guild Academy Workshops
Design for Behavior Change (one-day workshop)
June 25, 2018 | San Jose, CA
https://www.elearningguild.com/content/5420/workshops/

VOV Learning Network Summerclass
Design for Behavior Change (one-day workshop)
July 10, 2018 | Duffel Belgium
https://vov.be/…/vov-summerclass-instructional-design-for-b…

ID Academy (Torrance Learning)
Design for Behavior Change (one-day workshop)
August 6-8, 2018 | Boston MA
http://www.torrancelearning.com/id-academy/

 

New DFHPL Facebook Group – Following the Conversation

So nerdy shop talk is basically my favorite thing, and the internet is a spectacular place to geek about whatever your passion is.  Where those conversations happen seems to shift as the internet evolves.  I used to have most of my nerd conversations on Twitter, but things seem to have shifted to Facebook or LinkedIn more.  I do like the possibilities of longer conversations that are provided by threaded discussions, and I’m opting for Facebook over LinkedIn for the time being.

If you are so inclined, come hang out:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/designforhowpeoplelearn/

Link to the facebook group for Design For How People Learn

 

New Book: Play to Learn!

I got a present in my mailbox today — it was the paper copy of Sharon Boller and Karl Kapp’s new book, Play to Learn! I’d already agreed to be a stop on their Blog Book Tour, but it’s lovely to have the hard copy in hand.

They based the book on the workshop that Karl and Sharon teach about the topic, which is why (I suspect) the book is loaded with so many interesting activities and worksheets for designing learning games.

They pull off a really nice balance between:

  • referencing the research evidence behind games for learning
  • giving some really great examples of the mechanics of learning games
  • having activities and guidance on how to create your own game

Along with Karl’s other books on gamification, this is a really good practical entry on the topic of learning games. And they have you analyze Plants Vs. Zombies (a personal favorite).

Recommended 🙂

Quick Links

-Sharon and Karl are doing a webinar: Learn more about Play to Learn – Register for Sharon and Karl’s webinar on Tuesday 3/28/17 at 1 pm. In it, they will expand on some of the key learning game design steps covered in Play to Learn. 

You can get the book from ATD Press (there’s a promo code SPRINGBOOKS17 for 10% off) or you can get the book from Amazon

Follow along with the book tour

Date(s) Event / Blog Stop Location
March 3rd Play to Learn available from ATD and Amazon ATD / Amazon
March 3rd Bottom-Line Performance Blog Stop Lessons on Learning
March 3rd Karl Kapp Blog Stop Kapp Notes
March 3rd ATD Learning Technologies Blog Stop ATD Learning Technologies Blog
March 6th Knowledge Guru Blog Stop Knowledge Guru
March 7th eLearning Industry Blog Stop eLearning Industry
March 8th Connie Malamed Blog Stop The eLearning Coach
March 9th David Kelly Blog Stop Misadventures in Learning
March 10th Lou Russell Blog Stop Russell Martin & Associates Blog
March 13th ATD Science of Learning Blog Stop ATD Science of Learning Blog
March 14th Julie Dirksen Blog Stop Usable Learning
March 15th Zsolt Olah Blog Stop Rabbitoreg
March 16th Cammy Bean Blog Stop Cammy Bean’s Learning Visions
March 17th Melissa Milloway Blog Stop Mel’s Learning Lab
March 21st Learning Solutions Conference Orlando, FL
March 23rd-24th ATD Core4 Session Long Beach, CA
March 28th Webinar with Sharon and Karl Bottom-Line Performance
March 30th-31st Texas Distance Learning Association 2017 Conference Galveston, TX
May 3rd Lectora User Conference Cincinnati, OH
May 22nd-23rd ATD International Conference Atlanta, GA
June 20th-22nd FocusOn Learning Conference San Diego, CA

Talking about Feedback and Habits

Have participated in a few podcasts lately:

There are a few more coming up soon, including an interview with Learning Solutions Magazine to accompany winning the Elearning Guild Guildmaster award (a nice surprise at the recent DevLearn Conference):

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, text

Complexity and Learning

I’m kind of obsessing about complexity theory right now (Dave Snowden’s Cynefin Model mostly), and looking at simple, complicated and complex systems. I had a lot of conversations about this last weekend, and have been thinking about it a lot.

A couple of upfront disclaimers — first, I’m just learning about this, so I don’t pretend to really understand this stuff.  It’s my interpretation, but it wouldn’t surprise me at all to know I’m getting the details wrong. Second, I’m not digging into Chaotic (for now at least). Third, there’s a much longer post on this brewing, and I have more questions than answers right now.

So — let’s apply this to the question of school testing, for example:

Simple things (with explicit rule sets) are probably fine to assess via multiple choice tests. MCQs for multiplication tables? Sure! No problem!

But complicated things (e.g. the subtleties of designing a scientific experiment) and complex things (e.g. problem-solving skills) do not have explicit rule sets, and are therefore NOT appropriate topics for a really reductionistic assessment methods.

School testing models are trying to squeeze all the ambiguity out of the system by trying to control every variable. You can do that with simple and possibly with complicated systems (though it’s an insane amount of work — witness the amount of procedural documentation in the air safety industry, or the nuclear power industry in their attempt to eliminate all ambiguity. It’s usually only justifiable when people’s lives are at stake).

But you can’t (by definition) eliminate all the ambiguity in complex systems. E.g. you can teach principals for problem-solving, or a process, but how it gets implemented depends on the context, which you can’t control. That’s where teachers, with their personal judgment and ability to adapt, become really important. It’s one of the limitations of computer-based instruction.

People don’t like not having control. School testing is trying to exert control by pretending that everything can be put in the simple box, so it can be measures using simple, objective measures. But it just doesn’t work.

I think there’s some real value in having a good way to assess whether or not  you are dealing with a simple, complicated or complex situation, and adjusting not only your assessment, but also your learning design for that. Working on this, but if you know of anything really useful, please let me know.

A couple of good resources:

Thoughts?

Addition:  This article is a pretty perfect case study of this Poet: I can’t answer questions on Texas standardized tests about my own poems

Design For How People Learn, Second Edition

Hey Folks — the second edition of Design For How People Learn is now out! It came out right before the end of the year.  I’ll be updating the website this week.

Design for How People Learn, 2nd Edition

bookcover2nd

What’s different?

The first edition content is still mostly there.  I expanded on a few points about motivation and skill development, but the main change is the addition of three new chapters:

  • Design for Habits
  • Social and Informal Learning
  • Designing Evaluation

Both the social/informal material and the evaluation material are things that probably should have been in the first edition and weren’t (fixed that!), and the habit chapter reflects a change in my own practice — I’ve been finding it useful to call out habit formation separately when doing analysis and design.

Where can I get it?

All the usual places, in all the formats:

If I already have the first edition, do I need to get this one too?

Not necessarily (don’t tell my publisher I said that), but if you’d like to get around buying a whole new copy, here are some other resources:

The habit chapter is an expanded version of this article: https://www.td.org/Publications/Magazines/TD/TD-Archive/2015/07/Habitual-by-Design
The social/informal chapter is an overview of that topic, but there are lots of smart people writing about social/informal learning who specialize in that area.  A few include:
I collected a few other favorite resources here:
The last chapter is evaluation.  It’s an overview as well, but the biggest two points are:
– User testing (see Steve Krug’s Don’t Make Me Think book)
– Qualitative measure (see Brinkerhoff’s Success Case Method)

But what if I want the shiny new version?

I, of course, support that 🙂  Maybe you could pass on your first edition copy to somebody who could benefit, and get yourself a second edition? Just a suggestion.
Sincere thanks to all the readers of the first edition!  If I’m reading the royalty statements right (no guarantee), it looks like we are right around 25K copies sold, which is fantastic and amazing and gratifying. Thank you.