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Archive for October, 2004

Interactivity and knowledge retrieval

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This smallish article I wrote 2 years back, things changed – my ideas evolved, but till date I strongly believe in some portions of this article.

Interactivity and knowledge retrieval
From the pedagogical ivory tower the oracle has announced – LEARNING OBJECTS SHOULD BE INTERACTIVE. Use 3D games to teach how to write effective business letter, use virtual environment-based role-play to teach table manners! That’s interactive – cool, learnable and sexy. Did we mention costly too?

The key is to understand the human cognitive system and how it contributes to on-the-job performance. Memory retrieval is facilitated when cues are laid out in perform on-the-job performance situations. Every situation invokes a different type of memory retrieval.

Interactivity is undoubtedly important. Interactivity is a requisite for sustaining learner attention. However, undue focus on interactivity for the sake of attentiveness can jeopardize the whole learning outcome. Incorporating frivolous drag-and-drop animation and games, and MCQ or True-false evaluation modules for the sake of enforcing creativity but without any clear learning objectives (what the learner needs to retrieve and apply) and focus on instructional design might not be a good idea. All the more so when we aim to achieve upper levels of Bloom’s taxonomy. The focus on authentic learning activities is absolutely essential, especially in corporate and tertiary learning, where the primary objective is synthesis of complex knowledge at the application level.

The target of good learning design is the retrieval of appropriate knowledge from memory. For instance, while using Microsoft Word, learning cues on-screen should initiate the retrieval of knowledge on how to cut and paste, insert tables, and access the header and footer menus.

Consider a non-example – a learning object that teaches how to insert a signature in Outlook. A few screen-capture sequences, the learner attempts an MCQ like this:
The Insert Signature option is under menu option:

1. Edit
2. View
3. Insert
4. Tools

How does the “interactivity” element above contribute to performance improvement of the learner as opposed to learning outcomes? How does this “learning activity” help the learner’s memory retrieval process when he seeks to apply his newly acquired knowledge in an actual performance environment (in this case working with Outlook)?

[ Recognition Over Recall from Universal Principles of Design by William Lidwell, Kritina Holden, Jill Butler

People are better at recognizing things they have previously experienced than recalling those things from memory. It is easier to recognize things than recall them because recognition tasks provide memory cues that facilitate searching through memory.

Recognition memory is much easier to develop than recall memory. Recognition memory is attained through exposure, and does not necessarily involve any memory about origin, context or relevance. It is simply memory that something (sight, smell, touch) has been experienced before. Recall memory is attained through learning usually involving some combination of memorizing, practice, and application. Recognition memory is also retained for longer period of time than recall.

Early computers used command-line interface, which used recall memory for hundreds of commands. GUI eliminated the need to recall the commands by presenting them in menus.]

That is not to undermine MCQs, True/False questions, etc. These are effective for evaluation, articulation and even knowledge retrieval when used properly within the proper context.

The ideal way to ensure retrieval of learned information from memory in an on-the-job situation is to prompt learners to practice retrieving that information during the learning event. It is not the interactivity that facilitates learning – it is the retrieval practice.

This explains why questions about non-essential information actually hinder learning. They provide practice for retrieving the wrong information!

By putting the emphasis on proper retrieval practice, we can correct the dangers of utilizing interactivity just for the sake of it. We can stop asking trivial questions on meaningless material. We can avoid detracting the attention of our learners from the central concepts. We can end the practice of creating frivolous games that divert the learner’s focus from key learning points.

By not focusing on interactivity, we can create meaningful interactions that will carry over to the learners’ real-world performance contexts. We can focus our simulations on situations that have realistic analogy, thus creating authentic instruction.

Written by anol

October 11th, 2004 at 11:23 pm

Interactivity and Attention

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Paying Attention to Attention By Lisa Neal, Editor-in-Chief, eLearn Magazine, and Michael Feldstein, CEO, MindWires, Inc.

One of the more significant challenges we face in online learning is climbing the wall that blocks our view of learners responding to a course. In a classroom we can see who is making eye contact, nodding in agreement, or sighing with frustration. Above all, in a classroom, you can (usually) tell if somebody is tuning out. Without these cues, we are really just speaking into the void, hoping somebody hears us.

Written by anol

October 11th, 2004 at 11:20 pm

One Liner

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Have you ever noticed how, when spoken, the acronym “CMS” sounds an awful lot like “See a Mess?”

From blog.IT

Written by anol

October 11th, 2004 at 11:19 pm

Posted in Information Design

Customize your GMail

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Skinning Gmail with a Custom Stylesheet from

  • Install the URLid Mozilla/Firefox extension.
  • Download this CSS file.
  • Locate your profile folder and the chrome folder within that.
  • Copy the downloaded CSS file to the chrome folder and rename it to userContent.css (if you already have such a file, you will have to merge the two) [you can customize it if you want].
  • Restart Firefox.
  • Visit Gmail.

Via :Nick Bradbury

Nick also posted – Read your GMail inbox in FeedDemon
Google recently added an Atom feed to each GMail account. To subscribe to your inbox Atom feed in FeedDemon, click the “New Channel” button and use this URL:

After subscribing, you’ll be prompted for your GMail user name and password. The feed is fairly bare-bones at the moment, but it’s still a nice way to be alerted of incoming GMail.

Written by anol

October 8th, 2004 at 11:17 pm

Posted in Wanton Posts

e-Learning to me-Learning

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me-Learning: What if the impossible isn’t? interview with Wayne Hodgins
The complete version

What makes this massive scale of personalization possible is a relatively simple concept that might best be described as mass customization. The term “customized” because every solution is a unique assembly of “just the right” people, materials, content, technology, etc. and “mass” because this is for the masses, EVERY one, and therefore the scale is about as massive as you can get! In simple terms which we can maybe discuss more later, this model of mass customization starts by taking everything from content to software code to equipment to human competencies, down to very smallest possible size (and not one bit smaller as Einstein noted). These smallest possible objects are the “raw assets” which can then be used to create more refined and functional, though still very small, standard components. These standard reusable components can be pre made and sit “on the shelf” ready and waiting to be carefully selected and then assembled into a complete custom solution of just the right people and other resources needed to match any given individual needs and situation. This kind of mass customization or personalization enables a different solution for not only every country but every individual. me-learning!

I am particularly struck by the almost complete lack of attention to the radical changes required to our thinking and practices of teaching, instruction and how to best help others learn. In my work around the world I find an almost universal consensus about the radical shift to a very learner centric model of learning. However there appears to be almost no discussion or consideration about how this will require an equally radical shift in the instructional models, teaching methods and overall pedagogy to effectively support learner centric learning. As a result I think we are still at the very earliest stage of the revolution and evolution in learning and also very early in seeing the benefits this will all bring.

Via: Portals and KM

Written by anol

October 8th, 2004 at 11:16 pm