These are my live blogged notes from the Designing e-Learning for Maximum Motivation webinar by Ethan Edwards of Allen Interactions. Any typos, mistakes, incomplete thoughts, etc. are likely mine, not the presenter’s. My side comments in italics.
- Say less
- More challenging
- Delay judgment
- Content-rich feedback
- Levels of difficulty
- Learner control
“The goal of e-learning is to create meaningful performance change in the learner.”
Organizations choose e-learning for other reasons (cost, access, etc.), but as an instructional designers, we’re focused on the performance change
Assumptions about Learning
- Learning is active
- People learn best in highly particular ways
- Learners must actively construct meaning
“Learning isn’t a transitive verb; I can’t “learn” you this.”
Why should we care about motivation?
- Learning process must be initiated actively
- No one else is present at learning even
- Cannot rely on social motivators (well, you could blend traditional e-learning with social learning, via social media or traditional forms…)
- Rewards are indirect or absent
Cynical thoughts, but most learners aren’t intrinsically motivated
- Media/animation isn’t enough. (Avatars are cool, but aren’t enough unless they are doing something instructionally)
- They want the shortest, least painful way through a course. They look for shortcuts.
- Traditional path: reading text without purpose, unhelpful feedback, memorize trivia, long unbroken narratives (I think “narrative” here just means long blocks of text)
- “Expedited” path: Hit next without thinking, multitask, guess without consequence, random actions until give up. Most people will pick this in traditional e-learning.
IDs need to create experiences where learners won’t aim for the expedited path
What we want
- Read text to satisfy a need
- Active involvement in meaningful tasks (task-oriented, not content oriented)
What we need
- Don’t rely on default navigation
- Tasks require attention
- Guesses is unproductive
- Failure leads to a dead end rather than default completion
Question about kinesthetic/tactile learners
Answer: He’s being careful to not totally discount learning styles, but to say we’re not in specific boxes that way. “Auditory” learners still can learn visually. Think about learning through multiple channels, but not focus on specific learning styles
Question on overused Flash features
Answer: Superficial animation, stuff that is visually appealing but meaningless instructionally
Not all interactivity is instructional. The clicky clicky bling bling concept, although he’s not using those words
Content is important, but only as far as people will use that content to do something.
Six Rules to Create Motivation
These can be used even without the full CCAF model.
- Just say less
- Formal objectives (we need objectives, but we don’t need to tell learners the full formal objectives)
- Technical requirements/compliance documents, especially at the beginning of e-learning. Put it at the end if it has to be there. Make content-heavy resources available, but only when users choose
- Things that matter only to the SME
- Make it more challenging
- Not just making it harder, but something that makes you think
- “Achievable challenges with appropriate risks”
- Withhold information until learner asks for it
- Ambiguity isn’t always bad
- Delay judgment
- Goes contrary to what we usually think about immediate feedback
- Give time to think and correct yourself
- Include an “I’m ready” button
- Increases memory (I wonder if there’s research support for this about moving things to long term memory)
- Content-rich feedback
- Wait until they are engaged and interacting to put content
- Consequences for actions
- Naturally chunks content based on actions
- Interest is high after you make a wrong choice; you want to know where you went wrong
- Create levels of difficulty
- Challenges grow as skills develop
- Expand content & functionality as levels grow
- Vary how much help is provided
- Give more control to learners
- Prevents “learner as victim”
- Give learners responsibility
- Places you could give choices: pace, sequence, review, construct answers, seek help, choose when to be tested
Question: How do you convince people that interactions aren’t a waste of time?
Answer: You may have to do some work to “sell” the course and convince people
Question: What if you really need lots of text?
Answer: Make a nice resource web page and give them a reason why they should read it. Don’t make it e-learning.
Question: Better to read on-screen text or not
Answer: Literally reading every word on the screen is the worst. Narration can do a good job for emotional content, but highly technical content may be better without narration. Text is easier to read and review. The more complex, the less useful narration.