Training and the brain — is there enough room in there?

//Training and the brain — is there enough room in there?

Training and the brain — is there enough room in there?

By |2017-08-22T16:35:10-04:00August 22nd, 2017|Training|1 Comment

We hear a lot about training modules that contain too much content and too many subjects. Our advice of stick to the tried and true learning principles works. It’s just a new medium, not a new technique.

We suggest sticking with:

  • Tell ’em what you are going to cover, cover it and then summarize what you just covered.
  • Recognize that you have 3-5 minute before the viewer loses interest.
  • Reduce the amount of content to fit the length of the animation (not the other way around).
  • Use simple easy to understand concepts (no matter how hard the subject, it can be done).
  • Plan on covering 3-5 elements with a maximum of 7 +/- 2.
  • Create chapters in your modules if you have a lot to cover.

An animation is wonderful for the vast majority of subjects, but there’s a but and it’s a big but. They only work if your average viewer can absorb the information presented as they go. if you use complex terms, go too fast and fail to summarize then guess what? Folks will tune you out because they can’t absorb the information.

And if you have ever tried to go back to something in an animation, especially a long one, it’s hard and especially hard to find the phrase or concept you didn’t get.

Learners are fickle, not only will they tune you out if they are unable to comprehend and store the information you present — they won’t have a choice and here is why. In pop science terms, the brain can only take in so much before it has to switch to analysis mode. This is so your brain can map the new information onto both a memory space and the viewers internal model of reality. Go too fast, and stuff will literally fall out before that process can occur. If you at least keep the modules short, then some things will stick.

Why then, can one desire too much of a good thing? Come, sister, you shall be the priest and marry us. Give me your hand, Orlando. What do you say, sister? — The bard.

At this point, you might say “What about assessments and knowledge checks?” Well, what about them? The vast majority of those I see allow for viewers to “brute force” their way through and offer no remediation it the student gets it wrong.

Try testing retention if you don’t agree with me. Over and over you get folks counting on their fingers. “I remember 1, 2 & 3!” Not quite what you had hoped would be retained

So the solution is pretty straightforward. Keep it short, keep it simple. Then break things in to bite sized pieces and watch retention go up!

This is all part of the complexity of transferring instructor lead learning to animations, video, and systems like Storyline. Check out these articles for more information.


About the Author:

James is CEO and Chief Technologist at RCP Learning. He has spent the last ten years building a learning company based on computer science development principles. James is passionate about technology, the science of learning and the psychology of understanding. He is committed to delivering the best possible customer experience to every one of RCP Learning's clients. His favorite quote is "The universe is not made up of atoms, it is made up of individual stories." -- Anon.

One Comment

  1. Jenny James September 6, 2018 at 4:15 pm - Reply

    James presented at our local ATD meeting on the topic Trends in eLearning: The Winners and the Losers in 2018….very interesting, very insightful. Brought back with me that gamification in learning should be called ‘deep engagement.” And that artificial intelligences – bots – could be used for on-the-spot learning and job aids.

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