Every Friday I post a weekly recap of the best articles, posts, and resources I find from the intersection of learning, design, and technology. I like to keep tabs on things related to workplace learning, technology, social tools that generally help people power up their learning so that they can work smarter.
Here is a collection of the best learning science and instructional design-related posts from 2018.
2018 Blended Learning Studies: The Year in Review
Dan Biewener (@simplilearn) has assembled 10 of the most notable and relevant blended learning studies from 2018. He has highlighted key findings that seem particularly pertinent to corporate L&D and provided links to the original sources so you can dive deeper.
How to Learn Better
In this TedxNashville talk on the science of learning, Ulrich Boser (@ulrichboser) shares some insights about learning how to learn and the three skills of the “new smart”: metacognition, patterns, and struggle.
Learning has become one of the single best predictors of income, both for individuals and nations.
Learning Is a Learned Behavior. Here’s How to Get Better at It
Many people mistakenly believe people are born learners, or they’re not, so why bother getting better at it? A growing body of research shows that we can all we can all improve our ability to learn through the deliberate use of practice and dedicated strategies. Ulrich Boser (@ulrichboser) gives us three practical ways to build your learning skills, based on research.
The Truth About Teaching to Learning Styles, and What to Do Instead
This research report, The Truth About Teaching to Learning Styles, and What to Do Instead, by Jane Bozarth (@JaneBozarth), explores the concept of teaching to learning styles and its effect on learning outcomes. My very favorite part of this is the “What to do instead” section.
Interleaving: Variety is the Spice of Learning
This latest post from Paul Kirschner (@P_A_Kirschner) & Mirjam Neelen (@MirjamN) gives us a good look at the ‘effective learning strategy’ know as interleaving. For many, this may be a bit counter-intuitive so it is well worth taking a look.
The Spacing Effect: How to Improve Learning and Maximize Retention
We are not taught how to learn in school, we are taught how to pass tests. The spacing effect is a far more effective way to learn and retain information that works with our brain instead of against it. Learn all about it in this post from Farnam Street. (@farnamstreet)
Simplifying Cognitive Load Theory
Adam Boxer (@adamboxer1) takes a stab and simplifying the cognitive load theory. John Sweller’s Cognitive Load Theory (CLT) may be the single most important thing for teachers to know, but it was not necessarily designed with teachers in mind. The product of lab-based randomized controlled trials, it is a theory from the specific academic discipline of Cognitive Science. In recent years teachers have found it incredibly useful and many blogs and books have been written trying to explain it and how it can be utilized in front-line education.
The forgetting curve and campaign approach to remembering learning
As Bianca Baumann (@BiancaBaumann) and I have been saying for a while now, marketing can live right alongside your learning programs. Campaign thinking is just one marketing technique that can improve your L&D results. You can learn more about it in this Training Journal article by Issy Nancarrow (@issynancarrow)
How to leverage prior knowledge to enhance learning
Take a look behind a paper by Lydia Krabbendam, Martijn Meeter, and Marlieke Tina Renee van Kesteren to learn details about how existing memories can be harnessed to enhance learning. (@Nature_NPJ)
You’ve Been Learning All Wrong – Making Knowledge Stick with Peter Brown
Catch Peter Brown talking about a counter-intuitive approach to learning that flies in the face of the way you think you should learn and how it might transform your learning process. He shares some evidence-based learning strategies explains why you should focus on getting knowledge out of your brain instead of into it (and what, exactly, that means). Peter Brown is the author of Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning.
The Power of Worked Examples
Learning through worked examples is a very effective, but underutilized way to learn. Especially when learners are novices with little prior knowledge. You should take a close look at what Mirjam Neelen (@mirjamn) and Paul Kirschner (@P_A_Kirschner) have to say about this because integrating worked examples can save you a lot of time and money in the way it enables both efficient and effective learning. And who doesn’t want that?!?!?.
If you like learning how to put this type of research into practice, you should plug into the new ResearchED Magazine which “…provides another quality platform to further help the teaching profession connect research and practice in the classroom.” Check out their first issue.
How to leverage prior knowledge to enhance learning
This npj Science of Learning article looks behind a paper by Marlieke Tina Renee van Kesteren – Integrating educational knowledge: reactivation of prior knowledge during educational learning enhances memory integration. “…it actually makes sense to retrieve previously learned information often (a process known as retrieval practice). We have also shown that retrieval aids knowledge building when linking old to new information.”
Start with Who: the Golden Circle for Learning Design
See Ger Driessen (@GerDriessen) in action at Learning Tech Day as he explores how the elements of Simon Sinek’s popular “Start with Why” talk resonates with learning and development?
Learning Is a Learned Behavior. Here’s How to Get Better at It.
Here’s something to benefit everyone: How to get better at learning. Ulrich Boser (@UlrichBoser) shares that how well you learn has nothing to do with how intelligent you are and how the learning strategies you employ are more important than how smart you are.
The Decisive Dozen:
A short list of the most important learning factors based on scientific research and practical real-world wisdom from Will Thalheimer (@willworklearn) . If you put all 12 of these factors into practice, your learning interventions are likely to be more effective than 95% of all workplace learning interventions currently being utilized!
Battling the Bandwidth of your Brain
In this article by Greg Ashman (@greg_ashman) touches on why cognitive load theory is so powerful. Unlike much of what we are told during training and professional development, cognitive load theory has real implications for learning that are based on sound evidence derived from robust research designs.
The concept of working memory is similar to that of short-term memory except that it doesn’t just store information, it also manipulates it. The limitations of working memory are what lead to cognitive overload.
Learning by teaching others is extremely effective – a new study tested a key reason why
Many studies have shown the learning benefits of teaching others. Now there are new insights into why that is. This article from the British Psychological Society tells us that “ “the benefits of the learning-by-teaching strategy are attributable to retrieval practice; that is, the robust learning-by-teaching strategy works but only when the teaching involves retrieving the taught materials.”
Manage Memory for Deeper Learning
The latest in Patti Shank’s (@PattiShank) wonderful series on learning, this one covers 21 evidence-based and easy-to-apply tactics that support memory while learning and beyond. Like the previous books in this series, this is a valuable addition to your personal library.
How to make brain friendly learning that sticks
Learning Psychologist, Stella Collins (@StellaCollins) offers six key ways you can work with the brain to help make learning stick, all wrapped up in the useful (and brain friendly) acronym: LEARNS. “Sometimes what feels easy actually makes learning harder.”
Good Brain, Bad Brain: Basics
Deliberate practice has become one of those trendy terms. It is the concept that if you really want to master a skill, you need to consciously exercise your skill on a daily basis. This has to happen in a way that allows you to self-correct your mistakes, improve on your strengths, and experiment in a way that pushes you forward.
Triggered Action Planning
Many good L&D pros are recognizing that learning is not enough. To help ensure our efforts are not wasted, the key is to set SITUATION-ACTION triggers. Will Thalheimer (@WillAtWork) shares how to use contextual situations to trigger certain actions. (This also aligns nicely with BJ Fogg’s (@BJFogg) concept of Tiny Habits.)
An Instructional Design Toolkit
Megan Torrance (@mmtorrance) and her team at Torrance Learning are sharing some of their favorite instructional design techniques here in this toolkit to support new instructional designers or “old” ones who want to sharpen their saw.
Hack ID: Resources for Self-Taught Instructional Designers
Kristin Anthony (@anthkris) has assembled a nice collection of instructional design-related resources.
Book Recommendations for L&D Pros
MacGyver of Modern Learning: 8 Ingenious Ways to Re-purpose Online Training Content
This is another of those things I think marketers do a much better job of than most L&D teams. Repurposing existing content in new and different ways is a great way to get more out of your existing content. Christopher Pappas (@cpappas) has 8 good ways to get you started with this line of thinking.
3 Scientific Reasons Great Design Makes People Want to Read Your Reports
Visual communication is becoming more and more ubiquitous and for good reason. You may have heard me say that everyone is a designer and this is more evidence of that. The way you design everything from emails and documents to slides and multimedia impact the ability of your audience to “synthesize information quickly and, more importantly, extract meaning and insights that influence their decision-making.” Good design helps you do that. Dive into Katy French’s (@katyifrench) post on the Column Five Media blog for the details.
10 Questions To Ask Before Starting Instructional Design
No matter what type of learning project you’re about to embark upon, you’ll want to ask these 10 questions from Marc Rosenberg (@marcjrosenberg) BEFORE you get started. If you like these and are interested in more like them, you can also check out these “21 Questions to ask before Designing Any Training Program”
How Well Do We Learn From Experiential Or Inquiry Learning Approaches?
Read this to learn what Patti Shank (@PattiShank) has to share about the best way to learn. Do workers learn best from experiences such as case studies, simulations, or scenarios? Or do they learn best from the presentation of content with practice activities? What is the best way to teach people to handle workplace hazardous materials incidents, for instruction?
How to design software training (part 1): Do everything except “train”
Cathy Moore (@catmoore) takes a look at good training design for new software and the right balance between help screens, job aids, and training. In short, her answer is “Try everything but training.” Hop on over and check it out.
So You Think You’ve Got A Training Problem?
Have you ever felt like a total slacker because you’re not working on mobile gamified Augmented Reality microlearning projects? Fortunately, your success has much less to do with trends or tools than you think. One of the things separating the best learning pros from everyone else is knowing when not to build a course. (Hint: Training is pretty low on the performance improvement checklist.)
Badass: Making Users Awesome by Kathy Sierra
If you don’t know Kathy Sierra, stop right now and go watch this. Seriously. Everyone can learn about building experiences in a way that makes them “magical and extraordinary”. The best part is that this is easier than you think. Be sure to catch here point about reducing “cognitive leaks”. In short, it’s all about focusing on making your users awesome.
If that leaves you hungry for more, check out her book “Badass: Making Users Awesome”
Half-Life: The Decay of Knowledge and What to Do About It
I’ve really been enjoying the Farnam Street newsletter by Shane Parrish (@farnamstreet) lately and this article is a great example why. It takes a look at how understanding the concept of a half-life will change what you read and how you invest your time.
Designing for Human Memory
Attention is closely linked with working and short-term memory. This article by Martin Jancik (@MartinJancik), takes a look at the entire human memory system. He talks about how it works and how to design interfaces that eliminate confusion and how to lower the cognitive effort users need to make. Good stuff.
Personas vs Job to be done
Personas have long been a useful tool in a user-centered design process; however, in recent years, jobs-to-be done, a new technique for focusing on customer needs has been gaining steady prominence. Read this article by Page Laubheimer (@Page_Level) to learn what the difference is and which one might be better.
Is Listening to a Book the Same Thing as Reading It
Daniel T. Willingham (@DTWillingham) tells us that our richest experiences will come not from treating print and audio interchangeably, but from understanding the differences between them and figuring out how to use them to our advantage.
Self-explanation is a powerful learning technique
Find out more about what this meta-analysis has to say about the fact that it is better to ask a student to see if they can explain something to themselves, than for a teacher or book to always explain it to them.
Why Our Brains Fall for False Expertise, and How to Stop It
This interesting article is super relevant to today’s world. Learn some of the cognitive biases we all have a some of the steps you can take to counter them. “… ‘airtime’ — the amount of time people spend talking — is a stronger indicator of perceived influence than actual expertise.”
Forgetting to Remember
This article from the Learning Scientists blog by Althea Need Kaminske (@drsilverfox) is an interesting look at how forgetting – whether it’s caused by interference or decay – can actually HELP us remember. Forgetting helps you remember by presenting you with fewer options.
Cognitive Coaching: Six mindset shifts trainers should make
Most trainers and coaches mean well. It’s just that they hold mistaken beliefs about cognitive skills and too many rely on instructional techniques that can actually get in the way of successful performance and the development of expertise. Gary Klein’s essay how to get people up to speed more quickly so that they think more clearly and show more mental agility.
Why Minimal Guidance During Instruction Does Not Work
Researchers Paul Kirschner (@P_A_Kirschner), John Sweller, and Richard Clark tell us that based on our current knowledge of human cognitive architecture, minimally guided instruction is likely to be ineffective.
The Brain’s Autopilot Mechanism Steers Consciousness
This Scientific American article by Steve Ayan walks through the theory of the “predictive mind” – how consciousness only arises when the brain’s implicit expectations fail to materialize. According to this theory, higher cognitive processing can happen without consciousness. The regions of the brain responsible for the emotions and motives, not the cortex, direct our conscious attention.
5 Things to Do When the Solution Shouldn’t Have Been Training
Have you ever been part of a training project where you knew from the beginning you were fighting an uphill battle? We’ve all been there at some point and this post by Edmond Manning on the Allen Interactions (@customelearning) blog shares some tips for the next time it happens.
If you’ve been in this industry for more than eight weeks, you’ve probably been involved in a solution which possibly, maybe, (very, very probably) shouldn’t have been training.
eLearning Trends of 2018 – 57 Experts Share Their Predictions
Bryan Jones (@elearningart) has compiled insights from 57 eLearning experts (or maybe 56 plus me). Whether you want to read the specifics or just watch the video version Bryan has got you covered. He’s even got a downloadable/printable version you can use for your own reference or sharing with others.
What happens in your brain when you pay attention?
In his talk, neuroscientist, Mehdi Ordikhani-Seyedlar, provides a glimpse into the human brain and how, exactly, it decides what we pay attention to. Spend 6 minutes to learn ways we can leverage our brain patterns to focus and communicate more effectively. This talk will help you focus and it is also a great model for getting your audience to focus on what you’re saying during your presentations as well.
Donald Kirkpatrick was NOT the Originator of the Four-Level Model of Learning Evaluation
If you’ve been around training for any length of time at all, you’re probably familiar with Donald Kirkpatrick’s Levels of Learning Model. In this article, Will Thalheimer (@WillWorkLearn) shares that it actually may not have been created by him but by Raymond Katzell instead.
Beyond the Next Button
Check out the Elearning Guild’s latest (and free) e-book, Beyond the Next Button to see how you can take advantage of what is out there, challenge how your eLearning is structured, and enhance your digital learning experiences.
Do you want to really involve learners?
I agree (as usual) with Cathy Moore (@CatMoore) when she says that the first step for involving learners with your online course is to pull the plug on this: “First, present the basic concepts. Next, tell them the details. Then, show them what to do. Finally, have them do it.” Head on over there to learn more about what to do instead.
Will Thalheimer’s Learning-Transfer Evaluation Model
Will Thalheimer (@WillWorkLearn) has introduced a new learning-evaluation model, the Learning-Transfer Evaluation Model (LTEM). Check out the one-page model and the associated report for all the valuable details.
Designing for Human Memory
In this Chief Learning Officer article, Nick Van Dam (@nickvandam) talks about how if you look at studies on happiness, there are three things that make people happy: continuing to grow in their lives, having social relationships & having meaning and purpose in one’s life. …learning plays a role in all of that.
When Do Novices Become Experts?
It’s a fairly well-established principle of cognitive science that experts and novices think differently. Being aware of these differences can make a big difference to teachers, trainers and learning professionals. In this article, David Didau (@DavidDidau) shares a nice summary of some of the main differences between experts and novices.
A Training Design Lesson My Daughter’s Basketball Team
If you’re coaching a basketball team what would you teach? How to run an offense or how to make baskets? Be sure you’re focusing on the results.
The Training Trap
Is this post, Michelle Ockers (@MichelleOckers) asks “Is your organization stuck in the ‘Training Trap’”? The training trap is the false belief that training is the best way to develop knowledge and skills at work.
Evidence-based Training: Learning Maximizers & Training Myths
This is the last of a four-part series of interviews with Will Thalheimer (@WillWorkLearn). Be forewarned that after you’ve soaked up the goodness of this one, you’ll probably want to go back and catch the first three which looked at smile sheets, spaced learning, and elearning effectiveness.
Is it possible to create engaging software training?
Brian Washburn (@FlipChartGuy) explores the question of whether there are any instructional strategies that can lead to more engaging software training? If ever do any software training, Brian will show you how a little creativity can go a long way. Even if you don’t, you should hop over there and subscribe to his blog anyway. You’ll be glad you did.
The research behind the science of learning
In this paper, Yana Weinstein (@doctorwhy), Christopher Madan (@cMadan), and Megan Sumeracki (@DrSumeracki) present a tutorial review of six learning strategies: dual coding, elaboration, concrete examples, spaced practice, interleaving, and retrieval practice.
Building Modern Independent Lifelong Learners
Jane Hart (@c4lpt) explores how modern professionals learn in many different places and ways and how being successful requires knowing how to make the most of the variety of experiences and opportunities they search for and have.
Should Learning Participants Be In Control? What The Research Says
Patti Shank (@pattishank) explores learner control research. What did she find? It is complex and has some ambiguities. A one sentence summary is “When material complexity is low, we can offer more control to participants. But we should typically apply program control when material complexity is high.” Check it out!
10 Tips for Better Continuous Learning
Want to know what top companies like Microsoft and Google are looking for in the people they hire? You have to be a continuous learner. Today, when 47% of American jobs are at risk of automation learning is more important than ever. Check out these ten tips from the Anders Pink (@anderspink) blog to help you succeed as a continuous learner.
Are Robo-Instructors The Future Of Corporate Training?
Google and YouTube are the de facto training departments for many organizations with AI and bots starting to make a charge. But the good news from this article by Josh Davis (@JoshDavisPhD) is that the science of learning suggests the best instruction is still human-led.