BOOK REVIEW: “Design for How People Learn” by Julie Dirksen

“Design for How People Learn” by Julie Dirksen

© Ugur Akinci

“Design for How People Learn” by Julie Dirksen is a heavy book, both literally (top-quality glossy paper) and figuratively. It’s an important reference work that I think all trainers, instructors, and e-learning designers should read.

We are lucky to have today e-learning tools like Adobe Captivate and others. Setting up slides, quizzes, links, buttons, voiceovers, inserting images, videos etc. is a breeze.

However, when it comes to designing a learning experience that would actually help the students learn, and make a difference in their lives by changing the way they ACT, I believe there is no one-click app for that.

That complex skill, which requires us to put ourselves in the shoes of our prospective audience, needs to be deconstructed first, its individual components pulled apart and laid bare, and then reconstructed for a training package that really works and changes lives.

Dirksen’s easy-to-read and well-illustrated book accomplishes that goal in 300 full-color gorgeous pages.

The author starts from the A-B-Cs of the subject like “How do we remember?” and “How do you get their attention?” and ratchets up the discussion to higher orbits by diving into different design styles and goals: designing for knowledge, for skills, for motivation, and designing for habits.

One of my favorite chapters in this lovely guide is the last chapter devoted to “Designing Evaluation” since it asks the same questions that I ask myself all the time: does it work? Are the students learning anything? Do they remember anything? Do the learners actually start DOING the right things once the training is over?

Another favorite section is “How learners are different from you?” since for me the greatest trap is to assume that my readers are more or less like me, which they rarely are. Just to realize the ways in which our readers are different from us and understand what we should do to close that perception and cognitive gap is a major design accomplishment, I believe.

The book is rich in laying out the general principles and the research that supports them. But it’s also jam-packed with examples and illustrations to drive home the message.

Chapters are divided into sections, each with its easy-on-the-eye subheader, making it a pleasure both to peruse through the volume and to stop and dive deeper by concentrating on various characters playing different roles during the design process.

For example, in the subsection “Remember, Change Is Hard,” Dirksen presents the photos of four characters, each with a “plausible” excuse not to change and keep doing everything the same old way. Such presentations make the material immediately accessible since it becomes so easy to identify with the characters. We end up saying “yeah, I do that too…” after which we have a renewed and stronger commitment to the material in front of us.

Here are some suggestive headlines from sections that might change the way you design your training materials in the future:

  • “How can you know what your learners are thinking?” (p.51)
  • “What’s pace layering?” (p.74)
  • “Storytelling & Conditioned Memory” (pp. 110, 111)
  • “Tell them less, not more” (p.185)
  • “Create friction” (p.166)
  • “Have learners consider what they already know” (p.162)
  • “How do you give directions?” (p.177)
  • “The anatomy of a habit” (p. 231)
  • “Social and informal learning” (p. 243)
  • “What are we trying to measure?” (p. 272)
  • “Are the learners actually doing the right things?” (p. 283)

Get your copy today. Highly recommended.

Storyline 360 Vs. Storyline 3: What Do You Need To Know?

After the release of Articulate 360, they also came up with a new version (or you may call it the most anticipated version) of their popular product Storyline – Storyline 3. Storyline 360 is a part of Articulate 360. While most of us considered it to be another software update, it is much more than […]

eLearning Webinar (YouTube Live Stream) – Adobe Presenter Video Express, June 26, 2017 at 14:00 EDT

In this week’s eLearning LIVE STREAM, I will share with you Adobe Presenter Video Express or PVX for short. I will discuss why I feel this might be a great alternative for some over Adobe Captivate. If there is the time I will also answer any specific questions related to advanced actions, new releases, alternative software and other eLearning related topics.
Follow the link right now to set up a reminder for yourself so you get notified when this LIVE STREAM goes live.
Use the same link to join the LIVE STREAM while it’s in progress.

Reading: Lurkers as invisible learners

I’ve always been annoyed at being called a ‘lurker’, it’s a term that has a different meaning for me when talking about the engagement, or not, of students in an online class – read my post ‘Listener or Lurker?’ from 2013. In this instance the paper ‘Learners on the Periphery: Lurkers as Invisible Learners‘, by Sarah Honeychurch and colleagues, defines as a ‘lurker’ or ‘silent learner’ or ‘legitimate peripheral participant’ as.

“… hard to track in a course because of their near invisibility. We decided to address this issue and to examine the perceptions that lurkers have of their behaviour by looking at one specific online learning course: CLMOOC. In order to do this, we used a mixed methods approach and collected our data via social network analysis, online questionnaires, and observations, including definitions from the lurkers of what they thought lurking was … [our] research findings revealed that lurking is a complex behaviour, or set of behaviours, and there isn’t one sole reason why lurkers act the ways that they do in their respective communities. We concluded that for a more participatory community the more active, experienced or visible community members could develop strategies to encourage lurkers to become more active and to make the journey from the periphery to the core of the community.”

I’m far more comfortable with the terms used here, and reasons why students don’t engage perhaps how we’d like them to, or indeed in the way we design the course. We need to accept and address that not everyone taking online learning, whether it’s a free MOOC, paid-for CPD course or fully online degree, wants to be social, vocal, or indeed visible in the online environment. We can provide the base materials and ask the students to go off and read around the subjects, we can offer opportunities to engage and ‘test’ themselves on different types of course activities. The only way we know the students are engaging in the subject and materials is usually if we assign marks or grades to the activities, especially if those marks carry weight on the course’s final grade.

Reference

Honeychurch, S., Bozkurt, A., Singh, L, and Koutropoulos, A. (2017). Learners on the Periphery: Lurkers as Invisible Learners. European Journal of Open, Distance and E-Learning. [online] Available at: http://www.eurodl.org/?p=current&sp=full&article=752 [Accessed 21 Jun. 2017].

What Will elearning Look Like In The Future?

Lately I’ve been wondering what elearning will look  like in the future.

With technologies always emerging like virtual reality, gamification and more focus on mobile learning; will there still be a place for the current format of working through modules slide by slide?

I think technologies like VR will become more affordable for everyone and when the process is made easier, it could possibly become the new norm. But is this realistic, and what other technologies do you think could also change how we make training?

It also brings up the question of what skills do you think we should be learning now, for the future, so our current skills won’t become outdated.

Would love to hear your thoughts.

Luke

Adobe Captivate & the eLearning Brothers: Free Matching Images and Videos

by Kevin Siegel, COTP, CTT

During the first day of my Adobe Captivate Beginner class, attendees learn how to import and work with both images and videos.

During the video portion of the class, we import a Flash Video (flv) which students love because without the background color in the video, it’s possible to include an animated guide throughout a lesson.

The problem with Flash Videos is that they can be difficult to create on your own and, worse, there isn’t a surplus of Flash Videos available on the web (free or otherwise). Even if you managed to find a video, it’s unlikely that it matches the other images you’ve already used in your project.

Fortunately, the eLearning Brothers have come to the rescue. You’ll find matching cutout people and videos. Best of all, the assets are free if you’ve got Adobe Captivate 9 or 2017.

To access the assets, from within a Captivate project, click Assets on the toolbar and then click Get Free eLearning Assets. If this is your first time accessing the assets, you’ll need to either login with your free eLearning Brothers account credentials or create an account.

Once you’re on the Assets page, click Cutout People. If you scroll down to the bottom of the available assets, you’ll see a category that you’ve likely overlooked on previous trips to the Assets area: Videos.
Here is where things get pretty awesome: I searched the assets for a character that I’ve used before: Melanie. Not only did I find my character posed in both business and casual attire, but there were videos as well. At first glance the videos looked similar to the images, but surely that was wishful thinking on my part.
After downloading the image I needed, I focused my attention on the videos. I quickly discovered, much to my delight, that Flash Video (flv) is one of the available download formats.
In the picture below you can see the image asset that I downloaded on the left; the downloaded Flash Video on the right. (Because Flash Videos do not have a background color, they works perfectly just about anywhere.) And how awesome is it that the image and video are of the same image and.. and… wearing the same clothes?
I swear it’s as if I spent a lot of money and/or invested a ton of time on this. (I mean, how much would it cost to hire the actor, get the pictures, create the video, and remove the backgrounds?) However, nothing could be farther from reality. Honestly I spent maybe five minutes grabbing both assets and adding them to my Captivate project. And I never even pulled out my credit card.
Thanks Adobe… and thanks eBros!
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Looking for Captivate training? We’ve got you covered.
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Kevin Siegel, CTT, COTP, is the founder and president of IconLogic and ICCOTP. Following a career in Public Affairs with the US Coast Guard and in private industry, Kevin has spent decades as a technical communicator, classroom and online trainer, public speaker, and has written hundreds of computer training books for adult learners. He has been recognized by Adobe as one of the top trainers world-wide.

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Share Your Captivate Tutorial with the eLearning Community

Not a Captivate tutorial, but instead a tutorial on how to create a LIVESTREAM to share your Adobe Captivate tutorial with the rest of the Adobe eLearning Community. If you find this video useful, please share it with your colleagues, and don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel when you get a chance.

Hiding the Next button until all tasks are done. What are your thoughts?

A lot of the interactions I make at work are based on not allowing users to continue until all of the interactions on a slide have been completed. 

An exmaple could be there are four buttons, which need to be clicked so they show all of the popups, and then the next button will appear. 

I’ve heard from videos online that there are mixed views on this approach and am interested to hear what are your thoughts. I know from a usability point of view, it breaks one of the heuristics, which is to give freedom to users with navigation, but it comes up so often with what I do day-to-day. 

Really interested to hear your thoughts.

Luke