Monday, April 8, 2013

Harvard Serves Fear Porridge Too?

Advocates of online distance learning for adults should track down a copy of the study linked below and incorporate ideas and techniques from the study that fit the learning profiles of adult participants in the online courses they offer. 

The article introducing the study states:

"A common barrier for students attending home-based virtual classes is a barrage of distractions including email, the Internet, text messages and television as well as disruptions caused by roommates and friends. 
Researchers believe the solution is to test students early and often.
By interspersing online lectures with short tests, student mind-wandering decreased by half, note-taking tripled, and overall retention of the material improved, according to psychologist Dr. Daniel Schacter, and Dr. Karl Szpunar, a postdoctoral fellow in psychology."

The foregoing model fits the format of Collaborative Construction's live workshops and our online webinars can be modified to accommodate these techniques as well.

Adult learners, especially those seeking to master new skills while working full time in demanding professions will likely face distractions similar to, or even more disruptive, than those described above.  Taking those realities into account and tailoring the delivery of online materials in format that defeats those distractions will lead to success.  Entities and individuals involved in the preparation and delivery of online learning modules should heed studies like these.

Interspersing tests with short lectures makes a lot of sense when you understand how the human mind adapts to change and learns new things.  One of the key elements in learning is a focused mind.  Minds that wander tend not to absorb and retain materials at the same rate as a focused mind.  The key is to instill just the right amount of "fear" in the students.  In Collaborative Construction / world we refer to this as feeding participants their Fear Porridge.  The little edge of fear, not terror and not ignorance, leads to focused minds.

Welcome to the Collaborative Revolution!

James L. Salmon, Esq.
Collaborative Construction
300 Pike Street
Cincinnati, Ohio 45202
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Office 513-721-5672
Fax 513-562-4388
Cell 512-630-4446

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