Learning Science

The science of learning isn’t often considered by L&D professionals. I have noticed that many fail to remember that learning is a physical process and when learning, the new knowledge is causes structural changes in the brain. It is important that learning professionals need to understand the science of learning, to help aid our design decisions.

To create truly successful digital learning, we need to be well informed about the science of attention, emotion, and memory. So, let’s explore the basics of these areas now:

  1. Grab your learner’s attention

I take inspiration from lots of sources, such as TV, films, comic books, magazines and even social media – to create incredible digital learning. Where is it written that your user interface cannot be inspired or based on social media or a TV show that you watched? Or the plot of your interactive eLearning module from a film you watched last weekend? The possibilities are endless if you think outside the box. In fact, a lot of this “familiarity” of context will also lead to retaining the information more too. From my research it also shows us that there are two key ‘peaks’ in learner attention throughout a digital learning course: at the beginning, and at the end. So, as learning designers we need to design to utilise these peaks and flatten the curve between the two. This is easy to do when utilising the tools in our eLearning toolkit, such as video, graphics, audio, and animation.

  1. The role of emotion in learning

The science of learning has taught us that there are four key ‘knowledge’ emotions:

  • Surprise/Amazement
  • Interest/Suspense
  • Confusion
  • Awe

It goes without saying, emotions are an important group and facilitate learning, exploring, and reflecting. Each of these emotions help lock in knowledge into long-term memory, due to their level of novelty, complexity, and unfamiliarity. By mixing and matching these features with the learner’s ability to understand, and you’ll find some really creative ways to teach your learners.

  1. Memory

The core thing about what we do is to deliver new information to learners, in an easy-to-digest way, which promotes recall. If a learner hits the pass mark in our end-of-course assessment, we think our job is done. Wrong! Ebbinghaus’ forgetting curve shows that learners forget information quite rapidly. But repeating content time and time again strengthens the neural pathway, allowing the newly learned task (or knowledge recall) to become automatic. A great example of this is driving a car. Do you remember the first time you sat behind a steering wheel? I bet you were likely confused, nervous and overwhelmed. All these switches, and knobs etc, when do I indicate, should I look in my mirrors now etc. It was all new – and scary. But now, I bet everytime when you jump in your car to pop to go to the shops, you drive almost without giving the actual driving any thought at all. That’s because your neural pathway has been strengthened for this task.

Anyways, food for thought everyone.

Published by theirishduck

I love the ability where I can plan, prioritise, design, develop and deliver blended learning solutions for a variety of markets. I love to consult and advise about the best use of digital learning and improve design standards in line with evolving ways of working. I also enjoy to keep up to date with, understand and regularly recommend emerging technologies and practice to improve individuals, teams and organisational capabilities. With over 12 years digital learning experience and demonstrated experience in both instructional design and eLearning development, I have also a lot of experience conducting training needs analysis including how to leverage principles such as design thinking and root cause analysis to understand and address performance gaps. I also have led many facilitation workshops and even presented at iDesignX and Game Developers Conferences both here in Australia, Wales and in the United States. I bring loads of coding experience in Java, ASM, C++, HTML, JavaScript, SCORM and xAPI, as well as proven capability using Adobe Captivate, Trivantis Lectora and Articulate Storyline 360 Studio authoring programs. Of course, Adobe Creative Cloud is also part of my toolbox which I also use daily. Being taught traditional and advanced 3D animation techniques, I love hand drawing and polymer clay sculpture, but can also use the Blender, 3D Studio Max, Maya and Softimage applications. With strong multimedia, training and programming backgrounds, I understand modern learner behaviour including micro and social learning, I am very familiar with most LMSes and app-based (XCode and Android Studio), adult learning models and e-solutions. I also possess the ability to manage multiple projects simultaneously, whilst being pro-active in delivering work independently with minimal supervision, but enjoy working in teams. I've been told I am a resilient, relationship focused guy which can manage and navigate conflicting views and stakeholders/subject matter experts.

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