Tuesday, June 8, 2010

MUST READ BLOG POSTS: Are you an Instructional Designer or an Interactivity Designer?

I found the following post on one of my favorite blogs, Jane's E-Learning Pick of the Day. I highly recommend that you read it and the two blog posts that Jane links to. The posts provide an excellent discussion on instructional design and the effects of memory on learning. You should also look at the comments at the end of each blog post.
There have been two important blog posts today that are must-reads in my opinion - both of which contain references to the work of Dr Hermann Ebbinghaus, who pioneered the experimental study of memory.
The first is by Charles Jennings - ID - Instructional design or interactivity design in an interconnected world . Charles starts his post in a very powerful way:
Instructional design is not only seen as a core competency for learning and development/training specialists, but it’s a huge industry, too. Most learning vendors tout their ‘expertise in instructional design’ as a key reason as to why we should engage them to produce learning content. If we do so, then almost invariably their approach is around developing content in an ‘instructionally-sound way’ to produce a set of ‘learning interventions’.
I have a real problem with this approach and the thinking behind it.

It simply isn’t appropriate for the needs of the 21st century knowledge industry, and is arguable even more inappropriate for those whose work is carried out with their hands rather than with their minds.
Charles then goes on to explain that the mindset should be about process-based learning and not event-based learning, and how "the vast majority of structured learning is content-rich and interaction-poor."
Charles also reminds us that "knowing something doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ve learned it", and states that "Dr Ebbinghaus’ experiment revealed we suffer an exponential ‘forgetting curve’ and that about 50% of context-free information is lost in the first hour after acquisition if there is no opportunity to reinforce it with practice".
But this all leads to the main point that Charles makes ...
"We need designers who understand that learning comes from experience, practice, conversations and reflection, and are prepared to move away from massaging content into what they see as good instructional design. Designers need to get off the content bus and start thinking about, using, designing and exploiting learning environments full of experiences and interactivity."
Donald Clark in his posting,10 techniques to massively increase retention, picks up on "the ‘forgetting curve’ by Ebbinghaus" and states that it is
"a fundamental truth in memory theory, totally ignored by most educators and trainers. Most fixed ’courses’ or ‘lectures’ take no notice of the phenomenon, condemning much of their effort to the world of lost memories".
Donald then provides 10 tips and strategies to enable spaced practice.

These are two powerful blog postings that every learning professional should read and digest.
Now ask yourself, are you an Instructional Designer or an Interactivity Designer?

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