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Designing Events to Enhance Learning

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JoAnn Gonzalez-Major

on 26 November 2012

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Transcript of Designing Events to Enhance Learning

Ideas for enhancing learning events Provide a meaningful benefit for each topic, in the form of "Why you should care about this" scenario Suggestion Learning is much more effective if the learner's brain knows why what you're about to talk about matters. The benefit and/or reason why you should learn something needs to come before the actual content. Otherwise, the learner's brain gets to the end of what you're telling them and says, "Oh, NOW you tell me. If you'd said that earlier, I would have paid more attention..." This process of not-paying-attention is not completely within the learner's conscious control so, like I said, even if the person is motivated to learn this thing, their brain can still tune out during specific parts that don't start with a compelling benefit. Technique When designing new learning activities and instructions for students -- play the "Why? Who Cares? So What?" game with someone else. Describe the thing you're trying to explain, to which the other person asks, "Why?" Provide an answer, to which the person then asks, "Who cares?". Provide an answer, to which the person asks, "So?" At this point, when you're nearly ready to kill them for not getting it, you probably have the thing you should have said instead of whatever you said first (and second). The most compelling and motivating reason/benefit is almost always the thing you say only after you've answered at least three "Yeah, but WHY do I care?" questions. Once you have the activity defined the next thing to do is define how the activity will be presented. It's far more important that students nail the key things than be exposed to everything. Be brutal, be brave, be relentless in what you leave out. Knowing what NOT to include is more important in learning design than knowing what TO include. Use the 80/20 Principle Try to place facts, concepts, procedures, examples in a bigger context. Context Matters Even if you've already discussed the context, don't be afraid to repeat that context again. Instead of always showing isolated calculations, show the individual calculations within the larger context of where it usually appears. Highlight the calculation you're focused on by bolding it, putting it in a box, excreta., so that the learner is not overwhelmed by the number of steps to a solution, and can focus on just the part you're talking about, but still be able to see how that new calculation relates to the rest of the problem. For example: The standard rule is that we can hold roughly 7 things before we must either commit some of it to long-term storage or toss it out to take in something new. Use Chunking The things you hold in short-term memory vanish as soon as there is an interruption. You look up a phone number, and as long as you repeat it to yourself and nobody asks you a question, you can remember it--usually just long enough to dial the number. By the time you finish talking to the person on the other end of the line, the number is long gone. Chunking takes fine-grained data/facts/knowledge and puts them into meaningful or at least memorable chunks to help reduce the number of things you have to hold in short-term memory, and increase the chance of retention and recall. Imagine you were asked to take 30 seconds to memorize the "code symbols" displayed to the left of this text for the numbers 1-10. For example: You'd be lucky to get 60% correct in a follow-up quiz given immediately after those 30 seconds. There are simply too many symbols to memorize in such a short time, and there's no instantly obvious way to relate them to one another.
But... with one simple change to the way in which the symbols are presented--and without changing the symbols... 30 seconds gets most people to 100% accuracy in the follow-up quiz. In other words, by grouping the symbols into a meaningful, memorable pattern, we reduce the number of individual (and potentially arbitrary) things you have to memorize, and increase the chances. to increase understanding and retention - Redundancy doesn't mean repetition--it means "say the same thing again, but differently." Use Redundancy "Differently" can mean:
From a different perspective.
Using a different information channel - channels
Also, the more senses you engage, the greater the potential for retention and recall. The best learning experience considers the way you'd learn that particular thing in real life -- but offers it in a safe, simulated, compressed form. Real-life learning is never terse; it's chaos and confusion punctuated with moments of insight ("Ah-ha!") and clarity. It's a wave, not a straight line. Being terse is good for a reference document, but deadly in learning content. Graphics
Prose explanations
Step-by-step instructions/tutorial
Case studies Fortunately there are many resources and tools available to assist you in providing different information channels. Exercises, summaries
Bullet points
Devil's advocate
Personal point of view We are all visual creatures, and the brain can process visual information far more efficiently than words. These pictures can come in many forms: Use Visuals Use Information graphics or diagrams to reduce the amount of text learners will have to read or to present complex concepts
Use Visual metaphors to help learners tie new information to existing knowledge – making associations and making the information easier to recall
For difficult to understand procedures or concepts provide pictures of the thing being described, with annotations
For new procedures where the learner may not be sure of what the finished product should look like – provide pictures of the end state
For multi-step or layered concepts it is helpful to provide pictures designed to create attention and recall Information graphic or diagram Techniques for reducing cognitive load Visual metaphor Picture of the thing being described, with annotations Picture of the end state Picture designed to create attention and recall
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