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Neuroscience in eLearning Design


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The past ten years have seen an explosion of knowledge about the mechanics of the human brain. Can any of it be put to use by eLearning designers?

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Neuroscience in eLearning Design

  1. 1. Using Neuroscience Discoveries to Inform eLearning Design Dennis MacQuilken Artisan Technology
  2. 2. Welcome This session: <ul><li>Understand some recent neuroscience discoveries </li></ul><ul><li>Apply these discoveries directly to eLearning design </li></ul><ul><li>NOT to delve into brain structure or neuromechanics </li></ul>About me: <ul><li>eLearning & ID consultant </li></ul><ul><li>Emerging technology wheat & chaff separator </li></ul>
  3. 3. Roles? <ul><li>Designer </li></ul><ul><li>Developer </li></ul><ul><li>Manager </li></ul><ul><li>Consultant </li></ul><ul><li>Academic </li></ul><ul><li>Executive </li></ul><ul><li>Please type your role in chat </li></ul>
  4. 4. Doris Learns to Drive
  5. 5. Absorption of Knowledge Cognitive and Emotional centers engaged Performance and contemplation Struggle enlarges these sections Regions remain large, grow larger as the struggle to master continues Regions shrink once mastery is reached Simplified sketch of the skill is stored in the lower brain
  6. 6. Merzenich’s Monkeys Michael Merzenich University of California San Francisco <ul><li>Experiment: </li></ul><ul><li>Manual dexterity </li></ul><ul><li>4 progressively smaller cups </li></ul><ul><li>Monitor brains </li></ul><ul><li>Outcome: </li></ul><ul><li>Struggle begat increased size in performance-related areas </li></ul><ul><li>Upon mastery, regions returned to normal size </li></ul><ul><li>Performance regions ready to learn something else </li></ul>
  7. 7. Implications <ul><li>Until it happens without thinking, learners have not mastered a skill </li></ul><ul><li>Once it happens without thinking, it is not easily forgotten (riding a bike) </li></ul><ul><li>Most training stops before mastery is achieved, inviting a slow decline of knowledge </li></ul>
  8. 8. Poll <ul><li>If you stick your tongue out a newborn child, what will he do? </li></ul>
  9. 9. Mirror Neurons Recognize actions of others & allow them to feel like our own Paired with with neurons in key action, language, empathy, and pain centers Fire identically when we perform an action or watch it performed
  10. 10. Implications Response is similar for: Performing the action Witnessing the action Hearing about the action Mirror Neurons enable: Empathy Skill building through mimicry Vicarious experience
  11. 11. Formation of Memories “ Real” Memories Empathetic Memories “ False” Memories
  12. 12. Real and False Memories “ False” Memory: An experience you did not have, but remember Stored and retrieved from memory just like “Real” memories So what? Learners who imagine themselves having an experience will remember it when they encounter a similar situation in real life
  13. 13. Forming a False Memory Imagination Stories with mythic qualities: Emotional color Vivid binary conflict Characters with familiar human dilemnas
  14. 14. Structure of an Example Scenario Exploit empathetic memory: 2nd or 3rd person narration Strong emotional impact Include a clear success or failure outcome Incite a false memory: Vivid binary conflict Characters with recognizable traits & flaws Emotional color Argue each side of the conflict Final compromise/outcome must be the message you want to send Do it wrong: Asking learners to give advice about what a character in a scenario should do Stripping out the emotional and personal attributes to “focus on the point” No plausible or engaging conflict to resolve Too many points to convey
  15. 15. Simulations <ul><li>Draw on emotional energy </li></ul><ul><li>1st person experience </li></ul><ul><li>Prompt decisions of stark relevance </li></ul>Maximize Impact: <ul><li>Ask users to offer advice instead of making decisions </li></ul><ul><li>Strip out emotional hooks </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t allow users to make relevant decisions </li></ul>Defeat Efficacy:
  16. 16. Poll <ul><li>Sitting in front of the television, the human brain is: </li></ul>
  17. 17. Neural Reaction to Video TV On: <ul><li>Sense of relaxation </li></ul><ul><li>Passivity </li></ul><ul><li>Lowered alertness </li></ul>After Turning The TV Off: <ul><li>Still passive </li></ul><ul><li>Still lowered alertness </li></ul><ul><li>No longer relaxed </li></ul>Research Facts: <ul><li>Orientation Response </li></ul><ul><li>Pavlov 1927 </li></ul><ul><li>Instinctive reaction to visual or auditory stimulus </li></ul><ul><li>Dilation of blood vessels in brain </li></ul><ul><li>Slowed hearbeat </li></ul><ul><li>Suppression of alpha waves </li></ul><ul><li>Stop digestion </li></ul><ul><li>In primitive man, this reaction precipitated sudden action in response to a threat </li></ul>
  18. 18. Implications for Learning <ul><li>When using video in eLearning: </li></ul><ul><li>Pacing </li></ul><ul><li>Demonstration </li></ul><ul><li>Wrap up explanatory & dogmatic work before video </li></ul><ul><li>Follow with activities or ease back into slides </li></ul><ul><li>“ Watch for X in the video”, quizzes </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Helupful, still fighting brain’s natural inclination </li></ul></ul>
  19. 19. Examples? I would recommend rote learning for: (type answers into chat)
  20. 20. Rote Learning <ul><li>Bypasses cognitive and emotional systems </li></ul><ul><li>Recollection is not, and cannot be, prompted by cognitive or emotional cues </li></ul><ul><li>Instead: </li></ul><ul><li>A spreadsheet of 12 columns and 8 rows has how many cells? </li></ul>
  21. 21. Implications and Uses <ul><li>Question must be asked correctly to retrieve the answer. Knowledge is not dynamic and flexible. </li></ul><ul><li>Benefits: </li></ul><ul><li>Recall is automatic </li></ul><ul><li>Train for performance without the intereference of emotion </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Professional athletes </li></ul></ul>
  22. 22. Poll The ability to speak a language like a native disappears if you don’t start before this age:
  23. 23. Learning and the Adult Brain <ul><li>Effects: </li></ul><ul><li>Plasticity </li></ul><ul><li>Neural Darwinism </li></ul><ul><li>Customized brains </li></ul><ul><li>Use it or lose it </li></ul><ul><li>Cross Modal Training: </li></ul><ul><li>Novel, but related </li></ul><ul><li>Repetition deepens existing grooves </li></ul><ul><li>“ Mozart effect” </li></ul>
  24. 24. Implications In eLearning Design: <ul><li>Pose novel challenges that involve similar, but unfamiliar abilities </li></ul><ul><li>Biggest rewards: take learners out of their “comfort zone” </li></ul><ul><li>There is no age at which we cease to be able to learn </li></ul><ul><li>Acqusition of new skills strengthens existing skills </li></ul>
  25. 25. Poll <ul><li>Which of these learning traits are more dominantly male? </li></ul>
  26. 26. Designing for Male & Female Learners <ul><li>Inborn traits: </li></ul><ul><li>No differences </li></ul><ul><li>None </li></ul><ul><li>Math, science, art </li></ul>The adult brain: <ul><li>Male – external relationship </li></ul><ul><li>Female – internal relationship </li></ul><ul><li>Findings break along “Gender Identity” lines </li></ul>
  27. 27. Questions?
  28. 28. References <ul><li>A User’s Guide to the Brain, John J. Ratey, M.D., Vintage Books 2001 </li></ul><ul><li>Scientific American Mind, Articles 1/2004 – 6/2006 </li></ul><ul><li>Behavioral and Brain Sciences, Vol. 28, 2005 </li></ul><ul><li>Monitor on Psychology, Vol. 36, No. 9, October 2005 </li></ul><ul><li>Television Dependence, Diagnosis, and Prevention. Robert W. Kubey in Tuning in to Young Viewers: Social Science Perspectives on Television . Edited by Tannis M. MacBeth. Sage, 1995. </li></ul><ul><li>NeuroImage, Volume 29, Issue 4, April 2006 </li></ul>
  29. 29. Thank You! Dennis MacQuilken [email_address] Artisan Technology … Brilliant eLearning Artisan Technology
  30. 30. Artisan Technology …Brilliant eLearning <ul><li>A pioneer in the design and development of innovative eLearing and Instructional Design theory, Artisan Technology provides customized training solutions, expert consulting, and project oversight to corporate and government clients. </li></ul> 908-461-6343