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Telling doesn't equal learning: Going from forgettable to memorable

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Go from forgettable to compelling by following these three learning design principles when you create learning solutions: presentations, e-courses, webinars, etc.

Go from forgettable to compelling by following these three learning design principles when you create learning solutions: presentations, e-courses, webinars, etc.

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  • Set up:Place three signs in different corners of the room: – one labeled strongly agree, one labeled not sure, and one labeled strongly disagree.Display until start of session. Once session is ready to begin, introduce self and then learn about those in the room with you.Say: Let’s learn a little bit about each other. I’ll ask you to raise your hands a maximum of 4 times. How many of you would describe yourselves as:Learning designers/developersPeople who supervise, select, or work with learning designers/developersPeople who are passionate about learning – and love learning about learning?Tenured in your fieldNew to field – new to jargon associated with field.People who are wondering why you are here.Ask: If forced to answer right now….what would you say you want to get out of today?Do: Allow people to raise hands and share their thoughts.
  • Do: Click through images on slides as you share facts:Say – “Let me share why I think it’s absolutely critical that we get better at designing learning.” Do: Share these facts: On the consumer front - The week of October 25th, USA Today reported that advertisers are going to 15-second commercials – cutting the time in half. Why? Because people’s attention spans are getting shorter! If we can’t get people to stay focused on a 15-second commercial, how do we get them to pay attention to a 30 to 45-minute e-course…or stay engaged in a 2-hour, 4-hour, or whole-day training? (Click to show next image.)On the corporate front, in the 2010 International Workplace Productivity Survey, commissioned by LexisNexis, a global provider of workflow solutions, 62% of workers that admit that the quality of their work suffers at times because they can’t sort through the information they need fast enough. (Click to show next image.)Google reports that every two days as much new information is being generated as was generated from the Dawn of Time to 2003.Make transition statement/key point: We are all on information overload – and ineffective learning design only makes it harder for people to cope with the reams of information they get. From the corporate leader’s point of view, ineffective learning design is essentially like flushing money down a toilet. It’s money spent that never yields a return.
  • Review outcomes learners should achieve. Because there’s such a risk of wasting time and money if you design stuff poorly, I want you to know where you are in terms of learning design so you can begin to plan for enhancements/improvements.Describe how people learn so you stop setting learners up for failure and start setting them up for success.Identify three learning principles to follow and identifying ways to apply these principles in your own learning designs:Content isn’t the same as outcomes.People don’t pay attention to boring things – and we’re easily bored.To learn something, you have to remember it – and you need lots of help. Transition: My goal is to do a lot of showing, give you a few opportunities to do, and have me set up and debrief with some telling.
  • Set up activity: As we get started looking at what learning really is, and is not, let’s take a moment to do a quick inventory of your current practices.I’m going to display a series of statements. Based on what you think is true, stand by the appropriate sign that I have posted around the room: Strongly DisagreeNot SureStrongly Agree
  • Turn to page 1 of your handouts. At the bottom half, you’ll see you can score yourself by noting how many “yes’ responses you had. The questions on the page are repeats of the ones I just asked you.How many of you would rate your current courses as Highly effective?So-so?Low?Transition: You’ve got a starting point. Let’s see if we can identify how you can make improvements – and get people learning!
  • Say:Learning Principle 1 is that content is not the same as learning outcomes. Just because you tell someone something – doesn’t mean that person will learn it. It also doesn’t mean you’ve told them the RIGHT things.Explain: We’re going to start this segment with a short video that illustrates what happens when people get overly focused on content – and lose sight of outcomes.Show YouTube video located at:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jVb8EC1Y2xM&eurl=http://www.learningtown.com/video/video/show?id=2039019%3AVideo%3A47192Ask: What “key learning point” did you take from the video? Allow one or two answers. If needed, make this point: Many SMEs are very attached to their content and quickly lose sight – or never even think about – what it is they want a learner to be able to DO. In the video, the goal was to get people to stop at intersections. Somehow – with multiple reviewers, upper management involvement, conflicting interests, etc – the team completely lost site of the outcome and got overly focused on content and process. The result was a solution that didn’t work.
  • Say: “We’re going to work through this principle together because I think it’s critical you embrace it fully. I want you to help me create training to teach someone to learn how to scramble eggs. Pick a partner and spend two minutes thinking about everything you want to include in the training. Do: Time participants – give them no more than 2 minutes to brainstorm.Allow participants to share their responses. Possible answers:Explain what scrambled eggs are and why they are good to cook/eat. (Most won’t think about this one…but this goes to the “motivated learner” issue.)Give them list of ingredients, possibly showing them what each ingredient is if they aren’t familiar with it. (Are you going to assume they know what an egg is? What about butter or cooking spray? Salt? Pepper? Milk?).Give them a recipe (or not…they are simple to make; perhaps no recipe is required – you can just demonstrate.Demonstrate cooking technique and how to follow recipe.Let them scramble some eggs.Give them tips for avoiding common mistakes (e.g. cooking in too hot a pan, over-seasoning, using too much water/milk, not greasing pan, etc.)Allow a variety of responses. Then point out: “I just sent you into the trap that we often get caught up in. You IMMEDIATELY jumped to content without asking any questions.
  • Do: Use clicks to go through animation (1 click).Explain: Most people START with content…except that lots of SMEs struggle to make the distinction between desired outcomes, appropriate course objective, and REQUIRED content. They get into a trap of telling everything they know – which may not get someone to an outcome at all. Too often we don’t seriously consider what we want the learner to DO – we only think in terms of what we want to tell.
  • Explain: The ADDIE model – shown here – is old and some (like Thiagi) love to say “it’s dead.” But eliminate analysis and design at your own risk! Let’s take a step back and do a bit of analysis about task of teaching someone to scramble eggs.Direct learners to complete activity:Take 60 seconds and write down questions you have for me – your SME - about 1) the learner and 2) the task of scrambling the eggs. Let’s evaluate your questions and see if they affect the content you generated at all.Allow participants to share some of their questions.Show list of 8 questions (Click)Ask: “Do the answers to these questions change any of the content you listed in the previous activity?Show gears featuring outcomes, objectives, and content. (Click)
  • Do:Let learners review the objectives on the slide. Then ask series of questions:Ask: What outcomes do you think client is likely to get from offering this training?” Allowa variety of responses, thenshare the outcomes the client was really hoping to achieve:For home visitor to recognize the short and long-term negative impact of domestic violence to children and caregivers.Ability of a home visitor to assess caregiver and situation in the home and determine if domestic violence might be an issue.”Ability to coach a domestic violence victim on strategies for protecting themselves and their children.Activity: Direct learners to work with a partner – or in a trio to figure out what rewrites they’d make to “objectives/content” listed based on the outcome needed. Give them 5 minutes to brainstorm.Call time. Allow people to share. Look for people to suggest describing cues to look for that might indicate domestic violence, coaching model, examples of how to assess and to coach, etc.Do: Ask for summary of Principle #1: Content does not equal outcomes – what are the key learning points? (Direct to page
  • Transition: “Let’s move on to Learning Principle #2: We don’t pay attention to boring things…and people are easily bored.”Ask: Does this photo look familiar? Have you ever felt this way as you went through an e-course…or sat through a live training session?Ask: What makes an e-course, webinar, or live event boring?Do: Look for variety of responses. If learners mention any of the things you’ll be touching on in this segment, acknowledge that you’ll be talking about them/offering examples.
  • Explain:We’re going to discuss five strategies – which can and should be used in combination with each other – for gaining and keeping people’s attention. Attention, obviously, is critical to people learning. You need to evaluate your learning solutions to make sure they leverage:Principle of difference (people pay attention to what is new/different. They fairly quickly tune out sameness. Visual rather than text-based explanations. We’re a society of skimmers today – we want information to be quick/easy to understand. Visuals help us achieve that. Emotion – it draws us in and helps us remember facts, figures. The stronger the emotion; the more we’ll remember.Perspective – we care MOST about ourselves and we respond best to personalized messages that have I, You, Us in them. They and them are boring and distant – and often passive.Competition and fun. People love to play games and a lot of learning can happen while playing them. Competition encourages involvement as people work to win, score points, reach a new level, etc.Transition: I’m going to show you several examples and illustrations to clarify what I mean.-
  • Strategy 1: Principle of DifferenceDo: Display grid of squares for about 3 seconds and then click again to make slide go blank.Ask: What stood out most on the image you just saw? (the green squares). What doesn’t (the blue squares). How many green squares were there? How many blue ones? (2 green, 11 blue ones.) Probably everyone will remember the 2 green squares – they may not remember the exact # of blue ones – the sameness makes them harder to remember. Even though the blue squares were sized differently, their blueness made them seem all the same – tough to differentiate between. People often think by varying length of modules, they are creating difference. However, if the flow of a module is unrelenting lecture or text, varying length won’t matter.Difference is incredibly important in keeping people’s attention. I’m going to ask you how “difference” is used in samples used throughout this segment.
  • Strategy 2:Be visual rather than text-based as much as appropriateSay: People typically respond better to SHOW than to TELL. They remember it more when it’s visual. If I say “red” what do you immediately see? (Let people share – people will think blood, hearts, roses – but very few will tell you R-E-D as in thinking about how red is spelled.)This 4-minute video SHOWS history rather than telling history – it covers the civil war in 4 minutes.Watch.Do: Click the image on the slide. It is hyperlinked to a version of the video, which was created for the Abraham Lincoln Museum in Springfield, ILL. Point out: There is a lot this history doesn’t cover – but in 4 minutes people can see how the battles progressed, the number of casualties that occurred, the time period of the war, and who was president during the war. Depending on the outcome you’re hoping for – that may be all your learner needs. This video is a great example of essential content versus “nice to know” content as well.Say: Take a look at Cathy Moore’s “Dump the Drone” presentation – she gives us all sorts of reasons to be visual and to limit our text.http://www.cathy-moore.com/courses/dump_drone.html#Ask: Okay – how was each visual? Where they engaging? Did either leverage the principle of difference at all? (Civil War visual WAS different – different way of conveying history than most people have typically seen – it engaged because it was different AND visual. Cathy Moore leveraged too – she’s pretty irreverent (love it!) in her presentation. It stands out as different from what’s typical.)
  • Strategy 3: Emotion and DramaEmotion and drama grab our attention – and keep it. Emotion helps us hang onto facts. The biggest challenge we have with clients is that they are afraid to show unhappy or anxious people. They want all the stories in their courses to be happy ones where everyone does things right. But that’s BORING!!!! And boring is not memorable.Say: “Right now – think of three significant events in your life – two good and one bad.”Do: Allow participants to write down three things. Say: Write down the emotions you felt at those moments. Do: What were the events – and what were the emotions? (Look for joy, sadness, anger. Point out that the emotions tended to be extreme versions of things – not mild.)It’s very difficult to remember facts by themselves. However, we can we can remember a story and we can attach memories to the emotions we feel – particularly ones where we felt angry, afraid, or extremely joyful or exultant. If we have a lot of fun – we remember the event. If we’re bored, we tune out.Learning designers evoke or create emotion with stories, images, sounds. Which of these people would you rather learn more about?
  • Explain: Happy and contented are NOT interesting – and they don’t make good stories on which to hang the facts because we don’t tend to remember happy people – though we might remember REALLY happy people aka joyful, exuberant people. We most tend to remember people with problems that we can help solve or people who have had some incredible, highly unusual great fortune that is extraordinary. (Principle of difference!)We also remember images better than text since we THINK in images and not words. Example: if I say “red,” do you think r-e-d or do you visualize the color red? (Click to bring up links to samples to show.)Show examples. Let’s look at a two examples so you can note things that gain or retain your attention: - Not as Scary as You Think (Leveraged emotional stories, used great visuals.)http://www.bottomlineperformance.com/ns_goldmaster/ -- Germ Scene Investigators (Gained attention by starting with something fun and dramatic.)http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SN9Fxtydd68Have learners do activity: “Take 1 minute and write down things that stood out to you or made you engage.” Allow one or two people to share.Ask: Anything that caused you to disengage? Allow one or two people to share. Anything connected to difference or to being visual? (Look for several examples from each.)
  • Strategy 3: Competition and FunSay: Games are fun. Games are competitive. And Games engage in ways that courses do not. People can get immersed in them in a way they will NEVER do with a standard e-course. People will keep playing to hit a new level, a high score, a place on the leader board, etc. They will play without realizing they are even learning – and they will fully ENGAGE. , and be engrossed for extended periods of play. Begin by talking about “Farmville” on FB: Farmville game on FB: – a deceptively simple game that is highly addictive to play. The game allows members of Facebook to manage a virtual farm by planting, growing and harvesting virtual crops and trees, and raising livestock. Since its launch in June 2009, Farmville has become the most popular game application on Facebook, with over 82.4 million active users and over 23.9 million Facebook application fans in May 2010. The total Farmville users are over 20% of the users of Facebook and over 1% of the population of the world. You can play for 5 minutes– or for an hour.Point out that games put the learner in the center of the action – something that traditional training often fails to do. The learner has high control over outcomes, pacing, etc.
  • Transition: Games ARE fun, but they are also powerful learning too. Check out Moneytopia, a game that teaches new college grads how to manage money. Click through series of slides on Monetopia and explain main points of game:designed for new college graduates to help them learn how to manage their money – and to motivate them to save money. Rather than TELLING them about money, it allows them to experience – in a safe environment – how to manage money. Let’s learners select an avatar to represent themselves. They can choose from 12 options – each option describing the person’s salary and job. They can then customize their choice and select their friends – personalizing the game (a big deal in making learning more interesting to people!).They make choices about where they live, work, the stuff they buy, how they pay for it, etc. They encounter unexpected bills.Throughout game they can access “case files” that help them make better choices. They can also consult with their friends. Game adjusts to choices they make and actions they take – affecting their happiness, stress level, and health – just as financial choices can influence these things in real life.
  • Say: Now it’s your turn to see what games can do – here’s a link to an early game developed by Cisco – a game to teach people how to create and read binary numbers – an essential skill for programmers.Explain: This game has gone viral – 1 million players/downloads and lots of high schools use it to teach kids. A home work assignment might be to play to 10,000 points. Cisco has since gone on to create a wide array of learning games because they found out that their employees will play games– and much more rapidly learn the skills they need for their jobs. They don’t like courses – but they love games.http://forums.cisco.com/CertCom/game/binary_game_page.htmConcluding point to make: Games are emerging as a big trend. The NEXT button – so ubiquitous in e-learning over the past several years – will disappear in the next few years.
  • Ask: Let’s review – what do you remember. What are the five techniques to use to help keep people’s attention and prevent boredom? Answers to look for:Principle of difference. Leverage difference to regain people’s attention or to grab it in the first place.Visuals – show rather than tell.Emotion and drama – use stories and emotion to grab/retain attention.Perspective – make it about them, using I and you words instead of they/them words.Competition and fun – use learning games – get out of the box of thinking it has to be a course. Add scoring, leader boards, etc.
  • Remembering is the essential, non-negotiable part of truly “learning” something. When we say someone “learned it,” we are saying they retained it and can retrieve it later when they need to.I’m going to focus on five ways you can help people remember – there are more, but we only have time for four – and a couple of these we’ve touched on already.:7 +/-2 and primacy, recency, difference (we’ve covered difference already as an engagement tool).Eliminate the irrelevant so they don’t have relevant and irrelevant or “nice-to-know” information incoming at the same time. (Civil War in 4 Minutes – great example of this!!! Cathy Moore also talks about this!)Provide context and frame of reference – linking the new information to something that’s already familiar to them. For example – I used the idea of teaching someone to scramble eggs to talk about learning design. I was pretty confident everyone had scrambled eggs before, making it a familiar example.Repeat and elaborate – giving them examples, opportunities for recall, contextual practice. Example: to illustrate the principle of difference I gave you multiple examples; not just one.Leverage the senses and use the “trump card” of visuals. (This speaks to keeping people from getting bored, too, and keeping their attention. Great how these principles and strategies overlap!)Let’s look at these one at a time.
  • Show blank slide.Explainthat you will now conduct a of memory tests to help people recognize how critical good design is to helping people remember – and getting them to remember the RIGHT STUFF.Tell participants that you will now display a list of words and they are to learn the words. They will have 1 minute to study the words and remember them.Click to display the words on the slide. Read the words aloud and then click again to make words disappear. Ask participants to write down what they remember.Click to show the list again and ask them to self-check.Debrief the activity by asking how many people remembered how many words (7 +/- 2). Then ask:“How many people remembered the first word (Red)?”“How many remembered the last word (Autumn)?”“How many remembered Peyton Manning(different)?”Ask: How did you remember? (Answers to look for: combining like words (chunking); lots of repetition – kept repeating to self, thought of ways to visualize the words.)Point out:People tend to remember the first thing they hear, the last thing they hear, and anything that stands out as different (e.g. Peyton Manning).People will attempt to “chunk” info to remember it (Phone #s are 9 digits that we recall as 3 items: area code, city prefix, and local number.)People will think visually. You probably SAW Peyton Manning’s face, you thought of red tings, you visualized autumn leaves, etc. People need lots of repetition and practice to remember.State: If you really expect people to remember, you have to give them 1) context, 2) repetition and 2) a familiar framework on which to hang the new info. And, finally, you only want to include the things you truly want people to remember. (Essential vs. nice-to-know)
  • Set up new activity: The importance of omitting the nice-to-know cannot be overestimated. I’m going to give you an illustration. Once again, I’m giving you 9 words and I’m telling you up front this about Goldilocks (the familiar). Let’s see what happens.
  • Tell participants that the underlined words are the ones they need to remember. Do: Read the story.
  • Click to make screen go blank. Instruct participants to write down as many words as they can recall.Ask participants to write down what they remember.
  • Do: Display the words once again and let people self-check themselves. Find out who got:First word (Girl)Last word (Disarray)Most different word (disarray – combining recency and difference)This time you got to SEE the words altogether and then I provided you a contextual story with all the words in it. I also made sure to use each word at least three times – ensuring repetition. What happened? Why couldn’t you remember more words?Answers to look for:Too much extraneous content – lots of facts and detail that weren’t helpful in remembering the core 9 words.Ask: Who can tell me:Percentage of girls lost in the woods who get eaten by bears? (90%)Percentage of girls Goldilock’s age who will put something back where it belongs (19%)What Goldilocks things of lumpy porridge. (Bleck!)Who wrote Goldilocks? (Robert Southey)When it was written? (1800s)Point out: “Many of you remembered lots of stuff you didn’t need to…but couldn’t remember the 9 words I wanted you to. Extraneous content KILLS memory!!! Cognitive load theory in action: we can only remember so much stuff.
  • Here’s an example of where we put the principles in action – relevant content, chunked well, using lots of visuals. See what you think.Do: Show E1 example. Things to point out:Information is chunked. Left-hand navigation shows 5 sections to course – and only three subsections within a section.Within a subsection, we have a maximum of 6 terms/concepts for learners to review.For each concept, we explain it with words, show it with pictures/audio, and then offer some opportunity to recall/interact.We conclude each major section with an opportunity to respond.We use context and linkages to job: course starts with voice mail (very real-world to target audience. These voice mails repeated at start of each section – repetition and reinforcement)Every module is pretty darned short – can be completed in 5 to 10 minutes.From a “gaining and keeping atteintion point of view:Use of humor – Ken Michael’s characterPersonalization – use of “you”Lots of visuals
  • Click through techniques for helping people rmemember.Ask which technique is missing from list: (Answer: primacy, recency – having lots of it.)
  • Let’s practice a 3rd memory test – this one based on this workshop/presentation. See how well you can remember – based on images we used today.First – write down all the foundational info/learning design principles, and techniques that you remember from this session.Take a sheet of paper and write #s down next to it. I’m going to go through series of images and see what memory you attach to the image:Cognitive load/overload. We can only remember so much.The red zone is important – amydala can help route info more directly to thinking brain. Principle 1: Content does not equal outcomesPrinciple 2: We don’t pay attention to boring things…and we are easily bored.Principle 3: We can only learn what we remember – and we need lots of help!Outcomes vs. Objectives vs. Content – let outcomes be the primary driver with objectives and content working together to help drive outcomes.
  • Strategy 1: Principle of Difference
  • Ways to keep people engaged: 1)Principle of difference2) Visuals rather than text.3) Emotion and drama4) Perspective – make it about I/you/me and not about they/them.5) Add competition and fun.-
  • Techniques for helping people remember:Follow principle of 7 +/-2 and limit amt of info being given.Deliberating make things stand out as different – and chunk content into manageable pieces. Instead of 6 separate items, we have 3 chunks of info.Link to the familiarMake it visualRepeat to rememberStick to essential content only.
  • Ask: Why draw? Let me illustrate.Say: If I say “red,” what do you see in your head? Allow a variety of responses. Make point that people either felt an emotion or saw red images. Probably no one literally saw the letters R-E-D in their heads. Visuals are a powerful memory tool. Memory is essential to learning. If I cannot remember it, I cannot use it.
  • Do: Direct participants to final page in their handouts – where Stop/Start/Continue matrix is.Have people complete each matrix – individually or in groups. (Depending on # of people in room it may make sense to combine people into one large group, assign individuals separate matrixes and see what ideas they come up with, or split people into pairs.)Allow people to share their ideas.Conclude workshop. Thank people – remind them that every 2 days as much new information comes out as was generated from dawn of time to 2003. How are they going to get learners to retain THEIR information? And…when are they going to recognize that it may just be about helping people locate information!Note: It may be useful to point out that workshop attempted to apply as many learning design principles as possible – including frequent shifts, lots of repetition and practice, show, do, tell approach, etc.It’s also important to note that “courses” may not be the best option for info that should be “just-in-time” and that a single course will NOT change behavior or embed learning. Repeat to remember means ongoing reinforcement and opps to practice. Key reason DHT curriculum was set up as it was – to provide reinforcement.