Archive for February, 2010

by Reni Gorman

(Links to other articles in this series: 1 2 3 4 5 6)

Tip #1: Highlight the underlying core concepts. Explain what each concept is and why it is important (the meaning behind it).

Cognitive learning theory focuses on learning with understanding (as opposed to memorizing fact) by teaching the underlying concepts and meanings–and thereby increasing the depth of processing.

Learning with understanding means we understand the underlying core concepts, the meaning behind the facts. Not just knowing the “what” but also understanding the “why.” Once we have a deep understanding of what we are learning, we can relate it to or transfer it to something else. (Bransford et al., 2000) Learning with understanding is critical because: “…‘usable knowledge’ is not the same as a mere list of disconnected facts. Experts’ knowledge is connected and organized around important concepts; it is ‘conditionalized’ to specify the contexts in which it is applicable; it supports understanding and transfer (to other contexts) rather than only the ability to remember.” (p. 9)

Learning with understanding necessitates paying attention to the meaning. The depth of processing theory states that information processed at a deeper level of analysis improves memory for that information. This contradicts earlier ideas that meaningless memorization and rehearsal improves memory. (Anderson, 2000) (more…)


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by Rich Mesch 

I’m hoping you’ll join me on March 24, 2010 at the eLearning Guild’s Learning Solutions Conference in Orlando, FL. Besides the obvious draws of warm weather and Disney frolics, you can stop by and hear my presentation, Virtually There: The Top Ten Best Practices for Implementing Virtual Worlds. With Virtual Worlds still being a comparatively new approach, we’re still defining how to get the most impact with them. I’m hoping my session will help people who are just getting up to speed on Virtual Immersive Environments (VIEs), as well as those who may have tried a few things.

I wanted to use some blogspace to share the best practices. Today’s focus is on number 5, “Redefine the word ‘content.’” Simply put, “content” means something different in VIEs then it does in more traditional learning approaches. Without redefining what we mean by content, we run the risk of creating virtual experiences that are not engaging, or do not take advantage of the robust environment. As Kapp & O’Driscoll observe, “In the past, content was king; today context is the kingdom.” Content is still critical; however, in VIEs we have a fantastic opportunity to redefine what we call content.

The first step is to get out of the trap of “Content = Course.” Yes, you can bring courses into VIEs; however, recreating the classroom in a Virtual World is one of the least compelling ways to use a 3D collaborative environment. How about these other options: (more…)

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by Rich Mesch

[This is part 2 of series that started here. I met Dr. Glynn Cavin at this year’s ASTD TechKnowledge conference. He shared with me some of the work he is doing using Virtual Immersive Environments, and was good enough to allow me to interview him for this article.—RM]

(Links to other articles in this series: 1 2 3 4 5 6)

Is your training a matter of life and death?

For Dr. Glynn Cavin, it is. Glynn is the Director of the Transportation Training and Education Center at Louisiana State University and a PhD in Human Resource Education and Workforce Development. One of his responsibilities is training road maintenance crews in Louisiana. Road crew errors have resulted in thousands of injuries and deaths over the years. How could he turn those numbers around?

A former Air Force Colonel, Glynn spent 24 years in the military. His military experience taught him that he needed to be out there, working side-by-side with the people he was responsible for, and to get to know them.  “It felt like training had two different camps,” says Glynn. “There was more sophisticated training for professionals like engineers, but only classroom training for the highway maintenance crews. There’s nothing wrong with classrooms, but a lot of the crew members were intimidated by the classroom.  It isn’t their natural setting, for many of them it’s an environment where they haven’t historically been successful, and it isn’t really relevant to their job. And then we wonder why they aren’t getting it.”

As a curious learning professional, Glynn had spent some time in Second Life, and found himself wondering if Virtual Immersive Environments (VIEs) might be an option for him. After all, road crews didn’t work in classrooms; they worked out on roads and highways. Although the classroom training provided opportunities for practice, it wasn’t very realistic; there’s a big difference between trying a skill in the classroom versus doing it in the midst of busy traffic, noisy construction, and unpredictable weather. What if learners could practice in a safe environment that replicated many of the auditory, visual, and emotional cues they’d experience in real life?


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By Dawn Francis, Ed.D.

I was asked a question the other day that made me pause before responding. The question was:

“Where does the performance consulting process end and the “A” in the ADDIE process begin?”

I paused because, in reality, the separation is not so cut and dry. There is overlap. So, in this entry, I’ll address the separation and overlap. Please comment and share your insights as well.

Let’s first define what we mean by the PC process and ADDIE process.

  • The PC process we’re referring to here is a performance analysis model (e.g., Gilbert’s Behavioral Engineering Model).
  • The ADDIE process is an instructional design model. ADDIE stands for Analyze, Design, Develop, Implement, Evaluate.


In regards to the question posed above, it’s the “A” step that creates some confusion between these two processes. The tasks in this “Analyze” step include: clarifying the instructional problem, establishing instructional goals and objectives, assessing the audience’s needs, examining learners’ existing knowledge, and considering the learning environment, constraints, delivery modalities, and timeline.

Notice that the focus here is on “instruction.” That focus presumes that instruction is the solution to a performance problem. Indeed, sometimes it is. How do we arrive at this conclusion? We arrive at it through the PC process.

Let’s break down the distinctions between the PC Process and ADDIE “A” in the table below: (more…)

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By Rich Mesch

(Links to other articles in this series: 1 2 3 4 5 6)

I recently had the pleasure of presenting at the ASTD TechKnowledge conference at Las Vegas. I had a great time and met a lot of really interesting and talented people. That’s one of things I like best about conferences; trying to get a pulse on what people are doing in the real world.

A lot of the focus of the conference was on “Gen Net,” the next generation of digital natives soon to be (or currently) entering the workforce. Rightly so, many presenters observed that these folks have grown up with different ways of learning, and us learning folks ought to be paying attention. I remember thinking to myself: yeah, that’s true, but us 30- and 40-somethings need that, too. Hopefully we’re still relevant.

I spent a lot of time thinking about the gaps that are developing; the gaps between what we’re talking about and what we’re actually doing. I talked to a lot of people about Virtual Immersive Environments, and I heard a lot of great ideas. Some folks I talked to seemed frustrated; so many possibilities, how do we get more organizations harnessing this power? And it occurred to me that although we’re not getting as much traction on the really far out stuff, there were a lot of businesses who were having success with VIEs. (more…)

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