In this blog series, Learning and Development Manager Kevin Maye, takes a look at some learning theories and how we can use them to improve Learn My Way.
In June, E-learning software company Elucidat shared an interview with Stella Collins talking design for better learning products.
Here in the Good Things Foundation Learning Team we like Stella as she's a great speaker on the brain science behind learning, so we decided to take a look.
So this blog post isn't about a learning theory as such but is a reflection on several practical steps offered by Stella to help design for how people learn.
Is this useful?
I don't think anyone would doubt that designing for how people learn is pretty important. Especially if you design 'learning' for a website called 'Learn My Way'.
So let's break down the steps Stella shared.
L - Linking. This is about teaching new ideas by linking to what people already know. For example we compare using a password online to locking your door at home.
E - Emotion. Stella talks about getting people to feel involved to trigger their emotions. On Learn My Way we don't get too heavy, but we do ask learners to help characters complete tasks because we know people like helping.
A - Anchoring. 'You say tomato, I say....' quotes Stella to show how we can anchor an action (finishing the song line) with a prompt. We're not training Pavlov's dogs, but we do use anchor phrases. When we say 'the green padlock next to where you type in the website address means it's secure' it's an anchor.
R - Repetition. It sounds obvious but if something is important it's worth repeating. You'll find our topics tell you up front what they cover, then cover it and finish with a recap of what they covered. So we cover everything at least three times.
N - Novelty. Humans look out for new things, as Stella explains. Learn My Way is teaching digital skills, digitally. That's pretty much a recipe for things to be novel. Even more novel are the practice activities that we include, they're unique.
S - Story. Stories have been around since humans developed language, and a good story will tick off the other LEARN points. It's pretty easy to see places where we use story in our courses. Sometimes it's obvious as we introduce characters, background and content. Sometimes it's a bit more subtle, for example when activities follow on from each other.
Stella also included sleep as a bonus 'S'. Sleep is important to give the human brain time and space to digest new ideas. Of course, we're hoping Learn My Way doesn't induce sleep so we're ignoring this for now.
Are we doing something because of this?
Actually we're not going to change how we go about producing material for Learn My Way after reviewing this video, because we already use the techniques mentioned.
What we will do is use this checklist to help us when we're developing new things, to consider if it's effective.
What about you? Do you recognise any of the L.E.A.R.N.S(s) steps in how you teach? Maybe that's one we should all sleep on?