eLearning trend #1: Innovating Education
Multiple studies indicate that U.S. students are falling behind other countries like South Korea and China. Additionally, a recent Harvard Business School study surveyed over 10,000 Harvard alumni and revealed that 71% of the 10,000 former Harvard Business School alumni feel that America is losing its competitive edge. While there were many reasons as to why this nation is becoming less competitive, one prominent answer was education. Ann Shadwick, a retired NEA delegate in the recent Education International (EI) World Congress, put it best by saying, “We need to do some creative thinking, as a union, and take the initiative in developing 21st century standards and teaching in our colleges and universities.”
One place to start is eLearning.
2012 eLearning trends – You spoke, we listened
According to ASTD’s 2011 State of the Industry Report, organizations are investing more in learning and development per employee than ever before and businesses plan on "increased use of technology to design, deliver and manage learning and development".
This report highlights a fact we practitioners already know: eLearning is becoming a more critical component to how we educate and train in this country. But eLearning encompasses a broad scope –everything from web applications to social media to mobile learning fits in the "eLearning" bucket. That's why we wanted to know what you – our partners and friends in the industry – see as the most prominent eLearning trends on the horizon for 2012.
We asked our followers on Twitter and LinkedIn to tell us "What important changes and trends in eLearning can we expect in 2012"? After combing through your answers, consulting annual reviews from associations like ASTD, and evaluating the latest findings and articles that have been published about eLearning, we have landed on the top trends and changes we expect to see in 2012:
1. Innovating Education
2. eLearning that is conducive to adaptive learning environments
3. Go mobile
4. Gaming and eLearning unite
5. Integration of Social Learning
Stay tuned. Throughout the next 5 weeks we will give further explanation of each of these trends because, as the world of eLearning moves forward, it is imperative to stay on top of advancements and ensure that they are capitalizing on the benefits of new and innovative learning tools.
The Role Emotions Play in Learning... what’s love got to do with it?
It's Valentine's Day. Behind the heart shaped stickers, chocolates, and bouquets of roses lies the true reason today is celebrated: humans are emotional creatures. Now, we’re not just talking the mushy emotions that are commonly associated with Valentine's Day; we're talking about the higher level of emotional intelligence that humans possess. For example, humans are highly social creatures: we are receptive of one another's facial gestures and subliminal messages given through body language, and are one of the only species known to mourn the loss of a loved one. So whether you're a fan of Valentine's Day or not, you have to appreciate the role emotions play in every aspect of our day to day lives—including the way we learn. In fact, the role emotions play in learning is so great that we can actually use emotional intelligence to improve the performance, retention, and speed with which you, your students, or your employees learn.
The article "Human Abilities: Emotional Intelligence" published in the Annual Review of Psychology states that individuals that receive positive emotional feedback are generally more confident, are perceived more positively by others, and can maintain intimate and close relationships with others. In turn, these individuals have better physiological well being and have better achievement academically and in the work environment. So, even though as a boss or teacher you cannot control home life, by creating a positive learning environment the performance of your learners can skyrocket.
So pass out those valentines and generate those positive feelings, if not for the sake of St. Valentine, do it for the sake of learning.
The Learning and Memory Perks of Middle Age
A recent study in the British Medical Journal has gained much attention with its grim claim that cognitive decline begins at age 45. While there is no denying the truth that some skills like memory and speed of reasoning decline as we age, there is a silver lining to increased silver hairs. In fact, it turns out that some aspects of intelligence related to learning and experience actually improve with age, making it easier to react to challenges and learn new material.
Findings on the psychology and neuroscience of middle age individuals (people in their 40s, 50s, and 60s) show that these individuals generally have a happier outlook, feel more competent and in control, are less neurotic, more open, and more reflective and flexible than younger individuals. Reasoning for this lies in middle age brains learning to accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative.
So what does this mean for learning? Numerous studies have shown that when an individual believes that they can do well, they actually do perform better. So whether or not cognitive decline is inevitable, middle agers’ predisposition to have a positive outlook can boost learning and the ability to problem solve.
Click here to learn more.
Trainers, have you seen this across your learner populations?
The Anatomy of Learning
In the heart of London, an elite group of people is hard at work to learn "the Knowledge."
While this might sound like sci-fi, it's very real. And it's also the subject of a recent Wired article, "How Driving a Taxi Changes London Cabbies' Brains," which details the intensive learning process that black cab drivers in central London undergo, and how this rigorous learning process anatomically changes their brains.
In order to become an elite London black cab driver, one must have "the knowledge" – a memorized map of the capital, including some 25,000 streets and thousands of landmarks. This "knowledge" takes 3-4 years to learn and requires the would-be cabbie to pass a rigorous final exam.
This learning process not only ensures that cabbies are able to navigate the complex London traffic system, but it also results in actual structural changes in the brain of the cabbie.
Researchers took MRI brain structure snapshots and compared performance on memory tasks between three groups:
• London cabbies that passed the test
• Those that trained but did not pass
• A control group who never trained
Of the trainees who passed the test, researchers found there was an increase in gray matter (the nerve cells in the brain where processing takes place) in the hippocampus. They concluded that the learning process "causes structural changes in the brain, affects memory and creates a greater volume of nerve cells in the brain’s hippocampus."
This study makes us wonder if the "brain training" and "memory exercises" we've all read about really do work? If it is possible to change the structure of the hippocampus what could this mean for learning and for students that struggle in the classroom?
Do you think that the structure of the London cabbies' brains changes due to nurture (being challenged to learn the London streets) or nature (some are predisposed to having a more adaptable hippocampus)?
"Learning Styles" Debunked
The New Viewpoint
We’ve all heard phrases like, "I'm a visual learner, I need to see it in order to grasp the big picture," or "Oh, I'm an auditory learner, you have to explain it to me first." This long-standing educational philosophy regarding different learning styles (visual, auditory and kinesthetic) is being debunked in a new report, "Learning Styles: Concepts and Evidence" by Harold Pashler, Mark McDaniel, Doug Rohrer and Robert Bjork.
Learning styles is defined as "a preferred mode of learning, unrelated to an individual’s ability or the content being learned." In this report, scientists reveal that there has been no scientific evidence to substantiate the educational philosophy of learning styles. No experimentation has proven that specific people consistently learn information faster and better when it is presented in either a visual, auditory or kinesthetic form.
The Old Viewpoint
Some, like as Heather Wolpert-Gawron, are refusing to accept this report because, as a teacher, she believes she has directly observed learning styles in the classroom. Upon reading Gawron's article, however, it becomes clear that her definition of learning styles is not the same definition that has been used by researchers for over 50 years. Instead of identifying actual learning styles, her definition reveals the natural aptitudes some students have for certain subjects as well as the understanding that the nature of some material may support either a visual, auditory or kinesthetic teaching method.
How They Come Together
Pashler's report actually agrees with Gawron on these points: the individual aptitudes and nature of certain material influences the way it should be taught. Experiments have shown that certain individuals have mathematical or athletic aptitude—but that identifies abilities, not a learning style. Also, experiments have shown that some content has a higher transfer rate when it is presented in either a visual or an auditory manner, but once again, that does not prove the existence of learning styles.
Questioning the existence of learning styles is just one way that scientists are exploring educational philosophies that have been in practice for years (learn more about the re-evaluation of learning styles here). As teachers and learners, do you think that learning styles exist? How would you incorporate the scientist's work into your own curriculum.
Technology, meet Education
We read the newspaper on a personal tablet, keep friends in the palm of our hands through social networks on mobile devices, and conduct meetings with businesses around the world through video chat. In an age when technology has changed the way we do everything, why haven’t we applied the same standards for technological advancement to learning?
A recent article highlights this dilemma. After all this time and all the technological innovations at our fingertips, why are we talking about the same, age-old learning techniques? Is it because these strategies work or is it (just maybe) because, despite the fact that we live in a world chocked full of iPads, smartphones and apps, we still haven’t truly embraced technology in education. Simply presenting a PDF of learning content on the web is not exactly embracing the full power and scope of computer technology to drive learning, now is it?
Isn’t it time to move beyond age-old methodologies and embrace technology to influence learning just like we have embraced it to influence the way we do just about everything else?
But technology can’t be used alone. Something this article got right is the inclusion of key research from the field of cognitive psychology into learning techniques. This article talks about several mechanisms to trigger the brain to remember and recall learning, including: priming (previewing the material), spacing (review the material at select time intervals), and elaboration (connect the material with information you already know). Today, revolutionary online learning companies are systemizing these learning techniques and others in their online tools to dramatically increase the effectiveness, efficiency and productivity of learning. Read more about how amplifire incorporates some of these techniques here: www.knowledgefactor.com/resources
"The Testing Effect" whitepaper now available!
Test. Quiz. Exam.
For some, these three little words are the most dreaded part of education and learning. For others – especially researchers in the field of cognitive psychology – they just might be the key to helping learners study more effectively and perform better.
In learning and education, we currently use tests, quizzes and exams to assess what our learners know. fMRI imaging and other current research reveals that often learners have the learning content stored in memory, but they are just unable to retrieve it at the time of the test. Unfortunately, in the learning environment, we don’t have x-ray vision into our learners’ brains, so we can’t see what they have stored in memory – we can only assess them on what they are able to recall.
But recent science has demonstrated a solution to this problem: more tests, quizzes and exams.
Essentially, recent experiments in the field of cognitive psychology have shown that learners, who practice active recall of information during their study sessions by testing or quizzing themselves on the learning content, are able to recall more information on the actual exam and receive higher scores. Termed the “testing effect,” this methodology highlights how frequent memory retrieval strengthens the connections between the synapses of the original memory, and as a result the recall-ability of a memory becomes easier – in some instances learners have been able to recall 300% more information!
Click here to learn more about the testing effect and how you can implement this effective and efficient learning methodology in your learning programs!
Tools to Enhance Motivation and Engagement—Where game design & eLearning overlap
What do video games and learning have in common? Well, according to this article, key techniques that make the most interesting and addictive video games can be repurposed into online learning programs. Since top game companies have enlisted experts from the fields of neurobiology and cognitive psychology to strategically determine what game features motivate users to keep playing, eLearning professionals can now apply these findings into their own tools in order to make learning exercises more engaging.
In fact, there are specific game mechanics such as providing frequent feedback, measuring progress, and rewarding effort (not just successes) that video game developers and eLearning creators alike can use to enhance motivation and engagement.
Want to learn more about motivating learners and students? Check out our latest whitepaper.
Learn what the gaming industry can teach us about motivating learners & students:"Motivation & Gaming" whitepaper now available!
Cognitive psychologists and neurobiologists have proven that motivation – the driving force by which humans achieve fulfillment of needs and goals – is key in learning and the formation of lasting memories. The highly successful gaming industry has hired these same scientists to harness the power of motivation within the gaming environment – making users nearly addicted to the games they play. In fact, they have identified several triggers that consistently activate user engagement and motivation centers of the brain.
What if learning and education professionals could repurpose these findings to increase the degree of engagement in learning among students and corporate learners?
Our most recent whitepaper not only uncovers triggers for motivation and engagement, but also discusses how learning and education professionals can harness what the video gaming industry has learned about motivation in order to improve engagement and learning among students and corporate learners. Click here to download this paper today!