Gameful Learning – More Sebastian Deterding Goodness

Okay, so I understand that it looks like I just post every Sebastian Deterding presentation on this blog, but really, I don’t.  He’s a prolific guy.  This one is specifically aimed at design for online learning, so it’s double-plus-good, and therefore must be posted here:

Social Norms -or- Hey, What are they doing over there?

I’m working on a change management presentation, and have been looking for some of the social norms research – especially at the practice of using messages that help people understand that the majority of the group is already doing the desired behavior.

Before I close the tabs, I thought I’d collect the most interesting links here (that’s all I have time for today!).

socialproof

Wikipedia entry (which defines it, and rightly points out that outcomes are uneven for this approach) – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_norms_approach

Environmental behaviors and social norms (This is a nice summary paper of using social norms in environmental campaigns, influencing behaviors like littering) – http://195.37.26.249/ijsc/docs/artikel/03/3_03_IJSC_Research_Griskevicius.pdf

Thermostats with social feedback (This is one of the actual papers on this pretty widely known example) – http://www.carlsonschool.umn.edu/assets/118375.pdf

Social norms and teen smoking (And feet. An interesting television commercial aimed at social norms and teen smoking) – http://nudges.org/2011/06/14/new-social-norm-campaign-on-teen-smoking-in-texas/

Social norms and tax compliance (using a general appeal vs a social norm appeal to improve tax compliance) – http://www.socialnorms.org/CaseStudies/taxcompliance.php

More social norms and tax compliance (HBR article, though you need registration/subscription to see the whole thing) – http://hbr.org/2012/10/98-of-hbr-readers-love-this-article/ar/1

Social norms and binge drinking (a write up of one of the earlier studies that looked at perceived and actual norms for college students’ drinking behaviors) – http://socialnorms.org/pdf/socnormapproach.pdf

 

Virtual Chainsaws (When it’s not a knowledge problem)

Just wrote a piece for the Research for Practitioners series over at Learning Solutions Magazine on some really fascinating research at the Stanford Virtual Human Interaction Lab.  It’s crazy interesting research, and it involves virtual chainsaws, behavior change and crafty research techniques. What’s not to love in that?

Go check it out here: Research for Practitioners: When It’s Not a Knowledge Problem

chainsaw

Narrative Strategies for Learning

Had a lovely time at the Learning Solutions Conference last week.  Did a full day pre-con on Gameful Learning Design with Rick Raymer, which was a lot of fun.

I also did a session on Narrative Techniques for Learning.  When I was working on Design For How People Learn, I listened a lot to a podcast on storytelling techniques.

Stories!

A lot of learning and development folks *are* fiction writers, in the form of learning scenarios, examples and case studies, but (in my experience) it’s frequently pretty dull stuff (and I say this as someone who has written some dull scenarios myself).

So this session is about pulling some of the specific strategies that fiction writers use to into learning scenarios.  There are a lot of other interesting ways to explore storytelling in terms of meta-structures, psychology and cultural constructs.  This isn’t that presentation (though I’ll probably do that one too, one of these days).

This presentation is focused on specific strategies for making learning stories more interesting.

References:

 

 

Why I don’t like WIIFM

This is excerpted and expanded from a post that I wrote for the Tin Can blog 

We’ve talked about WIIFM (What’s in it for me?) for years – it’s one of those things you always hear that you need to include in learning experiences to persuade your learners to pay attention.

wiifm

I’ve started to think that’s a really unsatisfactory view of the world – most of the people I know don’t need a sales pitch to do their jobs, or to learn something to help them do that. Instead, they need to know that the thing they are learning is actually useful and necessary.

One of my favorite studies is this one from Dan Ariely called Man’s search for meaning: The case of Legos.

The paper starts with a discussion of meaning and work:

“Most children think of their potential future occupations in terms of what they will be (firemen, doctors, etc.), not merely what they will do for a living. Many adults also think of their job as an integral part of their identity. At least in the United States, “What do you do?” has become as common a component of an introduction as the anachronistic “How do you do?” once was, yet identity, pride, and meaning are all left out from standard models of labor supply.”

The paper goes on to explain “we view labor as meaningful to the extent that (a) it is recognized and/or (b) has some point or purpose.”

They did two actual experiments — one where they had participants do a word problem exercise, and a second where participants were constructing figures with legos.

smbionicle

All the participants were paid money for their efforts, but some of the participants had their papers shredded as soon as they were done (without anyone even looking at the page), or their lego figures immediately broken back up in front of them (I particularly love that they labeled this last instance as the “Sisyphean” condition).

shredlego

You can read the details here, but essential, people worked significantly longer or for less money in the condition where their work wasn’t meaningless. That shouldn’t be the case if people where primarily motivated by what they could get out of the situation (i.e. $$$). Dan Pink talks about several similar studies in his book Drive, when he talks about the importance of autonomy, mastery and purpose.

So, my issue with WIIFM is that, while it probably doesn’t hurt to let people know about the benefits of something, it’s not really a complete answer.

How about WCIDWT?

I think we should talk about WCIDWT (What can I do with that?).  If I have the knowledge or skill that you are trying to teach me, what will I be able to do that I couldn’t before?

Kathy Sierra talks about this when she compares old school marketing (“Buy this because we kick ass”) vs a focus on the user (“Buy this because we want you to kick ass”). What can *you* (the end-user) do to be more awesome, to know more and to do more.

I’ve been playing around with the idea of accomplishment-based learning — using accomplishments as the fundamental organization of content and learning experiences, so that the very structure of the course is about learners accomplishing thing (*real* accomplishments – not finish-the-lesson or pass-the-test accomplishments).  For example which photoshop course would you rather take?

photoshopclass

So, my issue with WIIFM is that it feels transactional — I’m trying to *buy* your attention by waving shiny things, when instead it should be about your goals, and what you can do. WIIFM also feels disrespectful of learners for those same reasons.

Thoughts? Opinions? Examples? Violent disagreement? Would love to hear about it in the comments below.

Research for Practitioners!

So the first column of what will hopefully be a longish running series for the elearning guild is up — it’s an effort to make learning-related academic research more available to a professional practitioner audience:

http://www.learningsolutionsmag.com/articles/1021/research-for-practitioners-social-interaction-belief-and-learning

Here’s the story behind it:

Several months ago, Clark Quinn and I were at a workshop and we were discussing the problem of evidence-based practice. We agreed that staying connected with academic research was a critical activity for instructional designers, but we both recognized that it was really hard to do. Busy practitioners just don’t have time to sit down and read all the way through the latest copy of BJET (the British Journal of Educational Technology).

The Internet is a mixed blessing in this regard—a huge number of journal articles are freely available online, but the academic publishers are firewalling them more frequently these days. And even if you can get access to articles—who has time to read them?

This Learning Solutions article is the first in a series intended to address this problem. This series will present short summaries of academic research that may be of interest to eLearning designers. The Learning Solutions article authors (there are several of us) will offer a short, blog-length summary of each study and include a brief discussion of the implications for design. Some of the journal articles we summarize will be newly released research, and some will be older studies that we think still have implications for eLearning design.

We are very interested in your feedback—we want to know whether this is helpful to you as a practitioner? Let us know what you think—please leave your reactions in the comments following the article!

Creativity and Instructional Design

I’m listening to the most recent toolbar episode with Judy Unrein, Brian Dusablon and their guest, Connie Malamed. They talk about a number of things, but there’s a lot of discussion of creativity – how to be creative, the importance of creativity for problem solving, and the unfortunate lack of creativity that can happen in learning design.

I think that there’s a weird attitude to creativity in our field – that it’s a nice-to-have (and just be clear — this isn’t something Judy, Brian and Connie said, but rather an attitude I’ve bumped into many times elsewhere).  I think that there are a couple of reasons this isn’t true:

  • We pay attention to things that are novel and unusual.  We are constantly concerned with engaging our users.  We know what whatever we build isn’t effective if users aren’t paying attention.  In the same way that humor can improve learning and retention, unusual and novel stimuli break through our cognitive tendency to habituate to an unchanging stimulus (and yes – using big words to make your business case is a legitimate strategy).
  • Well-designed experiences create positive affect in learners, which can improve learning and retention.  The best resource on this is probably Don Norman’s Emotional Design, but his contention is that things that are well-designed do work better.

So, creativity is a legitimate design strategy – not something that is a pretty garnish on the plate.

Here are a few other interesting things on creativity:

Image

A few things going on

So, I’ve had a crazy spring so far — between a brutal travel schedule and some unexpected health stuff (all resolved now), there’s barely been time to draw breath.

There have been lots of good things, including some interesting projects in the works.  A particular good thing recently was a really nice review of the book by Clive Shepherd:

There’s book a I’ve been meaning to write which I hoped would address the problem. I tentatively called it ‘What every L&D professional needs to know about learning’ (not so catchy I know). But I’ve been beaten to the gun by Julie Dirksen.” – Clive Shepherd

Still giddily fanning myself a bit over that…

For local folks (Minneapolis/St. Paul area), there are a few things going on also:

On Thursday (April 12th, 2012), I’m doing the Design for Behavior Change talk for the local UPA (Usability Professionals Association) chapter.  The event starts at 6:15 PM, and the talk starts at 6:45 PM.  You can get details here http://www.upamn.org/events?eventId=456463&EventViewMode=EventDetails

Also, the fantastic Connie Malamed (author of Visual Language for Designers and http://theelearningcoach.com/) is in town this week, so check out her talk on Friday:

Your Brain on Graphics: Research-Inspired Design, Friday April 13th

Information here: http://www.pactweb.org/ (you can also get details about her 1/2 day workshop at that link)

Program Details: Learning through visuals opens up new pathways in the brain. You can optimize opportunities for visual learning and provide better learning experiences when you understand how people perceive and process visual information. During this presentation, you will learn how graphics can leverage the strengths and compensate for the weaknesses of our cognitive architecture. You’ll learn how to make design decisions based on research. We’ll look at lots of examples in the process. Topics include: * How our brains are hardwired for graphics * How to speed up your visual message * How to make graphics cognitively efficient * How to speak to the emotions through visuals * How to visualize abstractions This presentation is for anyone who selects, conceives of, designs or creates visuals or anyone interested in visual communication.

Location: The Metropolitan, 5418 Wayzata Boulevard, Golden Valley, MN 55418 When: 8:30-11am

(She also wrote a very nice review of the book, btw)

Want Attention? Talk to the Elephant.

Do you want to capture and maintain your learners’ attention?  You need to talk to the elephant.

The elephant metaphor is from Jonathan Haidt's book, The Happiness Hypothesis (http://www.happinesshypothesis.com/)

Peachpit (my publishers) just posted an article I wrote based on Chapter 5: Design for Attention. You can read the entire article here.

Love these: Mental Notes

So, still need a gift for the design geek on your holiday shopping list?*

I’ve mentioned Stephen Anderson before (I’m a big ol’ fan), but I particularly love his Mental Notes cards, which cover dozens of psychology principles that impact how we design. Need to jump start your design process?  Pull a few cards out the deck, and talk about how you can incorporate those ideas.

You can order them here: http://getmentalnotes.com/

I particularly mention it now because (aside from the fact that these are awesome) Stephen is donating half the proceeds right now.

* Yes, I know it’s a little late to order holiday presents (story of my life), but you can print some sample cards to use a placeholder gift until the real ones arrive.