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Getting Into the Swing of Using Video

I’ve recently started to play golf. It’s not the first time I’ve ever tried it, I’ve played the game a few times in the past but found it to be a frustrating experience. This time though I plan to stick with it, practice and not just rely on visualisation and thinking positive thoughts!

When I went for my first coaching session (I received four sessions as a gift), the golf pro Andrew, brought out his iPad and asked me to hit a ball while he filmed me. Then we sat down and had a look at the footage. He drew a green line on the screen to see how I was positioned as I hit the ball (which turned out to be not too bad). He was also able to break down my swing into chunks – setting up, backswing, coming down and follow through and give me pointers about each. After some time spent practicing, he filmed me again. Then we talked about how it was different.

After the session Andrew e-mailed me the following summary of what we discussed:

Set up:

1) Left thumb down the centre of the grip.

2) Right thumb relaxes over.

3) Feet together.

4) Little step with your left then big step with your right.

Swing:

1) Position 1 (as shown below).

2) Position 2 (as shown below) thumbs to the sky.

3) Position 3 (as shown below) right heel up.

Keep running through your routine over and over to achieve consistent results.

Golf

Even though you can see the direction of the ball, I can tell you that it went perfectly straight! What I find particularly useful about this approach was that it didn’t just rely on someone telling me what needed correcting but that he could show me where I needed to improve and I could also see it for myself.

Afterwards, I was thinking how this approach might be useful for workplace learning and an obvious application would be a task that requires a particular technique, for example lifting something safely. You could do something similar to what Andrew did, film a before and after with some instruction in-between along with some follow-up afterwards.

A few years ago I went to a training session on facilitation skills and one of the remarks that has stayed with me is ‘people can’t argue with their own data’. In that context it was referring to having the people in the room generate content/ideas during the session that you can come back and refer to later. Filming me as I hit a ball also provides content that I can’t argue with. I can see what I’m doing correctly and incorrectly and make the necessary adjustments with some coaching.

While you can watch others using video, say in a scenario or for compliance, it’s also possible for you to be the star of the show.

How do you use/have you used video in your workplace?

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Ultimate Personalisation

A few weeks ago, I read a blog post by Andrew Jacobs called Turn and Face the Strain. It was about the lack of ability of L&D to be innovative and provided some reasons that hold us back from doing things differently – from being disruptive. It’s definitely worth a read.

After I read the post, I shared a link to it on twitter:

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To which Andrew replied:

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I commented that for me it was my confidence but in reality it’s also for the reasons he mentioned in his post. It can be hard to change and try something different.

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I thought about this and replied:

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By this I mean L&D solutions within my organisation. To which he responded:

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It got me thinking, what would Ultimate Personalisation look like? Here’s a list of what I came up with, in no particular order:

  • Talking to new employees a few weeks after they have started to see how they are settling into our organisation and finding out what support they need for their role.
  • Gaining a better understanding of our employees and the environment in which they work by spending time with them on-the-job i.e. getting away from my desk and going to where the work is being done.
  • Talking directly with the employees whose managers or supervisors say they need ‘training’ and find out what the real issues/gaps are.
  • Following up employees who have completed courses or been to conferences to find out what they’ve learned, how they’ll apply it and how we can share this knowledge/skills with others in our organisation.
  • Creating informal workplace networks that encourage the sharing of ideas and experience between employees.
  • Creating customised learning solutions for individuals and teams and not generic ones.
  • Curating resources on a range of topics and encouraging employees to share and add to the collection and importantly, making the information easily accessible by those who need them, when they need them.
  • Providing personal development opportunities on topics not related to work e.g. general interest topics.
  • Working with top performers from within our organisation and encouraging them to share the ‘secrets of their success’ with others.
  • Being a learning role model myself within our organisation by sharing, participating and collaborating.

What else could Ultimate Personalisation be?

I’ve started to do some of these things and I’ll write more about it in the coming months.

I’m sometimes frustrated because I think that I’m not in a position of influence. The reason being is that I’m not in charge, I’m not the manager/supervisor. But, this is an excuse because I can still be influential from where I sit in our organisation.

What other ways can we be disruptive?

Footnote: While putting this post together, I came across another great blog post worth reading Status Quo Sucks by Shannon Tipton that talks about a need for L&D to do things differently.

 

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A Blueprint for Design (part 2)

In my last post, I looked at the fundamentals of cognitive load theory. So, to assist learners in transferring information from their working memory to their long-term memory, we need to present the information in such a way that it reduces extraneous cognitive load (non-relevant items) and increases germane cognitive load (items that assist with information processing).

Several techniques can help to achieve this purpose. While many of them are relevant to technology-based instruction, but I believe they could also be adapted for classroom learning depending on the content to be learned. These effects have been studied over the years so are supported by research. Some effects apply to novice learners while others are relevant for more experienced learners. Also keep in mind that depending on the material/task to be learned, not all of the effects will apply.

Worked Example Effect: Novice learners should study worked solutions of unfamiliar problems to reduce the amount of cognitive processing. This will provide a foundation upon which they can build their expertise. So throwing learners in at the deep end isn’t a good idea.

Split-Attention Effect: This occurs when multiple sources of information must be integrated before they can be understood. For example, a diagram along with text to explain different parts of the diagram is being used; the text should be integrated or placed near to the relevant part of the diagram rather than having the learner try to move back and forth from one source of information to another.

Modality Effect: Working memory has both a visual processor and an auditory processor. As a result, using both processors can effectively expand the size of working memory if the cognitive load is distributed across both processors. This can be achieved when some information is presented visually (e.g. words and images) and other information by using sound (e.g. narration).

Redundancy Effect: Redundant information is any information not relevant to the learning experience. This effect occurs when the same information is presented in different forms e.g. narrating on-screen text or using text that repeats information contained in a diagram. It also includes using decorative pictures, background music or cartoon images that don’t add value.

Expertise Reversal Effect: As expertise increases, previously essential information becomes redundant. Including information that is needed for novice learners in courses for learners with more expertise would place higher levels of extraneous cognitive load on the experienced learners.

Guidance Fading Effect: The level of assistance provided to learners should be reduced as expertise increases. For example, instead of complete worked examples learners would be presented with partially complete problems that need to be solved.

Imagination Effect: Asking learners to imagine procedures or concepts assists with the transfer into long-term-memory. This technique should be used with learners who have sufficient experience in the area being studied (not really suitable for novice learners).

Element Interactivity Effect: Element interactivity is determined by the number of interacting elements that must be considered simultaneously in order to understand the material. More complex material is likely to have higher levels of element interactivity.

Isolated Interacting Elements effect: Where element interactivity is very high it may be too difficult for learners to understand the material because of the large amount of interacting elements i.e. working memory capacity would be exceeded. It may then be necessary to present the information as individual elements and ignore their interaction. As the individual elements have been learned, their interactions can then be emphasised.

So what do these effects mean for instructional designers and trainers?

Firstly, we need to be mindful of the processing capacity our learners and apply a learner-centred approach in the design of training materials and courses. Secondly, we should also take into account the experience level of learners and design courses accordingly. Finally, we need to strip away information that does not add value to the learning experience (this can sometimes be easier said than done!)

References:

Efficiency in Learning: Evidence-Based Guidelines to Manage Cognitive Load (2006) by Ruth Colvin Clark, Frank Nguyen and John Sweller. Pfeiffer (publisher).

Handbook of Research on Educational Communications and Technology, (2008) 3rd ed. Chapter 31. Spector, Merrill, van Merrienboer and Driscoll (editors). Taylor and Francis Group (publisher).

 
 

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A Blueprint for Design (part 1)

A little over a year ago while reading Efficiency in Learning: Evidence-Based Guidelines to Manage Cognitive Load by Ruth Colvin Clark, Frank Nguyen and John Sweller, I came across an interesting instructional design theory called Cognitive Load Theory (CLT). It’s based on knowledge of human cognitive architecture – which is how we process and organise information.

If we can better understand the human cognitive process, we can apply principles of CLT to design better learning instruction resulting in improved outcomes. Plus there is research behind these claims too!

In our brains, we have two types of memory. One is our working memory, which we use to process new information. The capacity of our working memory is quite limited so it can only handle so much before it becomes overloaded. The second is our long-term memory, which is where we store information from our working memory and where we retrieve that information from later. Within long-term memory, information is organised into schemas, which are organisational frameworks (like filing cabinets).

Not exceeding working memory capacity will result in greater transfer of information into long-term memory. CLT proposes that there are three types of cognitive load:

Intrinsic: this is the level of complexity inherent in the material being studied. There isn’t much that we can do about intrinsic cognitive load; some tasks are more complex than others so will have different levels of intrinsic cognitive load.

Extraneous: this is cognitive load imposed by non-relevant elements that require extra mental processing e.g. decorative pictures, animations etc that add nothing to the learning experience.

Germane: these are elements that allow cognitive resources to be put towards learning i.e. assist with information processing.

The three types of cognitive load are additive so according to the theory, for instruction to be effective:

Intrinsic load + Extraneous load + Germane load < Working memory capacity

Where possible, we need to increase germane cognitive load and reduce extraneous cognitive load when we design and deliver training/education/learning. Everything we include in a course needs to have a purpose – it needs to add to the learning experience in some way.

Some questions that I have that I haven’t been able to find answers for yet:

Is each person’s working memory capacity the same?

Does intelligence play a part?

If working memory capacity is not exceeded, how long can someone keep processing information?

Next time I’ll look at some of the CLT effects and how learning can be improved.

 
 

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‘In the begining…’

This is my first blog post. I’ve never written a blog before but I figured hey, you need to start somewhere, so here goes.

I’ve been working in Learning & Development since mid 2007. I started as a classroom trainer and a little over 2 years ago, I moved into e-learning instructional design (although I have designed plenty of classroom courses as well). I love instructional design – the challenge of it, the creative process, working with others, the variety, and the (generally) interesting topics. I’m keen to learn more and become a better designer and as a result I’ve become a member of some associations, I’ve joined groups via LinkedIn and I subscribe to the twitter feeds of people from the learning industry.

I was reading an online article the other week and it used a term ‘lurkers’ to describe people who subscribe to information but who generally sit on the sidelines and don’t participate. It some ways it sounds a bit creepy. However, it really summed me up, as I tend not to say very much in discussions but I’m still keen to learn from the experiences of others. For me this blog is about coming out of the shadows and getting more involved in the industry and to share my point of view. Sometimes the hardest part is taking that first step so that’s what I’m hoping to do by writing this blog. Perhaps you’ve had a similar experience to me or you’re at the same stage as me in your career.

My intention is to write about topics that relate to learning and what I’m learning as I carve out my own career. So, if you are reading this feel free to share your thoughts.

 
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Posted by on April 4, 2013 in Starting Out

 

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