I think it’s official: I’m addicted to Kathy Sierra’s blog.
Yesterday she made a great (if a tad long) summary of some pretty basic points she made earlier in the year that apply to learning.
Here’s a bulleted list of her main points:
- Get past the brain’s “crap filter” [i.e., point out why it’s important]
- Learning is not a one-way “push” model
- Use visuals to improve (and speed up) understanding, retention, and recall
- Use redundancy to improve (and speed up) understanding, retention, and recall. Say the same thing in a different way.
- Use conversational language
- Maintain interest with variety and surprise
- Use mistakes, failures, and counter-intuitive examples
- Show, don’t tell.
- Use chunking to reduce cognitive overload [nice graphic example on this one]
- Help the learner relax and feel confident
- Build curiousity
- Use “spiral experience model” to keep engagement
- Use a gaming concept of “next level”
- Allow the learner to think
- Use the 80/20 principle – know what to leave out
- Use emotions to increase attention and memory
- Use timing and pacing
- Never understimate the power of fun
Each of those are expanded upon in the post – some more than others.
In the comments, she lists some of her references (quoted below). I didn’t have time to follow all the links, but I’m going to try to find time to look at anything I don’t have to buy.
* Cognitive Scientist, early AI guru Roger Schank
* Designing World Class E-Learning (by Roger Schank)
* E-Learning and the Science of Instruction (by Ruth Colvin Clark, Richard Mayer)
(The book summarizes much of the research that’s spread out elsewhere)
* The Media Equation (Clifford Nass, Byron Reeves)
(OK, yes, these ARE the guys who gave us Microsoft Bob — but that doesn’t mean they don’t have some of the best research out there about human/computer interaction ; )
* Flow (by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi)
* The art of human-computer interface design (edited by Brenda Laurel)
(Check out her book — “Computers as Theatre”, too)
* Mind Hacks
(You can get to the book from their blog)
And while I’m here, another great reference for all this is the Cognitive Daily blog