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Simple Steps to Help you Think Like a Genius by Michael Crosson

Inspired by the bestselling book “How to Think like Leonardo da Vinci” by Michael J. Gelb

When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.”   –   John Muir (1838 –1914) – Scottish-born American naturalist, author, and early advocate of preservation of wilderness in the United States.

Not too long ago, I watched the new “Sherlock Holmes” movie starring Robert Downey Jr. as the famous detective and Jude Law as his faithful side-kick, Dr. John Watson. Before I saw the movie, I watched the trailers and commercials that preceded its release. They portrayed an action-packed film loaded with fights and explosions. I was quite relieved – when I finally saw the film – that the one thing I found most interesting about the Holmes mythos, the power of deduction, was firmly in place with this re-telling. Sherlock’s ability to implement his keen senses, harness his formidable knowledge and compose a logical conclusion from seemingly unrelated data has always fascinated me. Holmes is a master of Connessione (connections); one of the “Seven Da Vincian Principles”.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s creation marks the beginning of the familiar genre of crime solving via clue collection. Today, the theme is played out on a high-tech frontier on popular shows such as “CSI.”. While the time, tools and techniques have changed, the basic premise of discovering clues and making connections remains intact. The essence lies in opening yourself up to the relations of all things in our world. When we open our mind to the possibilities, the connections present themselves.

Da Vinci was very aware of the interconnections between everything in his world. How shape, form and structure were affiliated on a micro and macro level. Da Vinci’s principle of Connessione is really “system thinking;” appreciating and recognizing the alliance of all things and phenomena.

By tapping into the possibilities of connections, I’ve been able to improve my day-to-day operations in the office. Continue Reading »

by Rich Mesch

Please join Reni Gorman and I at mLearnCon 2011 in San Jose, CA from June 20-23. Reni and I will be speaking on June 21; our topic is “Mobile Learning is SO 10 Minutes Ago… Mobile Performance is NOW!” Here’s a summary of our session; we hope to see you there!

Imagine going out and buying a shiny new sports car. Now imagine hitching up a horse to it, and having the horse drag your car to work every day.

Sound crazy? Sure it does. So why are people still using mobile devices to deliver e-learning courses?

Years ago, Nicholas Negroponte insisted that in the not-too-distant future, we would all be wearing our computers. He was envisioning complex eyepieces and finger sensors with wires running up your sleeves. He had the right idea but the wrong form factor; he didn’t foresee that we’d be carrying our computers in our pockets and calling them “phones.”

Mobile learning is on everybody’s to-do list, and why not? Who wouldn’t want learning that could follow an employee no matter where she went? But like so many emerging technologies, we need to look past the gloss of the possible to the reality of the useful. Today’s smart phones have nearly as many capabilities as our desktop computers, but that doesn’t mean we use them the same way. And when we try to deliver learning to a mobile device the same way we deliver it to a desktop computer, we miss the point of having a mobile device to begin with. Continue Reading »

by Reni Gorman

We all intuitively think in a linear fashion because the brain can only really focus on one thing at a time, then another, and another. Therefore, even when we think we are jumping around in our thoughts, we are still thinking one thing after another. Perhaps as a result of this, many of us also write in a linear fashion. Therefore, it is not surprising that many instructional designers create course content linearly; it is difficult to think of a course or a story any other way.. However, when people use newer technologies, they tend to be very non-linear, be it surfing the web, using mobile devices or (especially) performance support systems. You never know where learners are coming from when they land on your web page—or your module. You also don’t know how much they already know. So, how do you to anticipate all of this when creating content, and, ideally, create content that addresses multiple learner types who arrive there from any place without any pre-existing knowledge?

When the web first went commercial (.com), I teamed up online magazine web producers with instructional designers and together they were able to create very interactive, instructionally sound, non-linear content. However, that was in the 90s, the stone age of interactive technology. In today’s world, we need to run as lean as we can. So let me share some of the techniques that worked for me when teaching how to design non-linear content; which, remember, is totally counterintuitive to what many instructional designers have been doing for years.

Ask your instructional designers to create a storyboard with modules that are truly context independent (in other words, that can be accessed from any path with any existing knowledge and will still make sense). Tell them to try to create the smallest possible modules; think online magazine publishing: one article is usually one page. Once they come back with their storyboards, pull out a module from the middle and see if it makes sense out of context. Does it indicate where you can go to “backtrack” and catch up?  What would happen if a learner would go into just this piece of content without the benefit of the previous content? Then, think about modifying the content in a way that makes it easy for anyone with links to go backwards in the content for explanation (if needed), and links to get more deep/advanced. This is commonly referred to as a layered design—once again, very non-linear. You will not know who the learner is when you design; she may be the target audience or a manager of the target audience or an assistant. No matter who the learner is, the content should make sense, and guide the learner to other content where they can catch up or explore further.

Continue Reading »

By Rich Mesch

Way back in April of 2010, I wrote this post about talking learning to business, where I basically posited that business doesn’t value learning, it values performance. I recently saw a wonderful presentation by ROI guru Jack Phillips at the Training 2011 conference that provided data to support that assumption. The bad news? Businesses really don’t value learning. The good news? Once we understand what business does value, we can take steps to provide it.

See, businesses don’t value learning any more than the driver of a car values gasoline. The driver of a car has a goal; he wants to get somewhere. He has a resource for getting there, the car. And in order for the car to take him where he wants to go, he puts gasoline in it. Having a full tank of gas is not a goal; getting somewhere is the goal, and the gasoline is the fuel that makes the car go, and allows the driver to get where he’s going.

So, too, do businesses want to get somewhere. And skills and knowledge are the fuel that power the people of the business and allow them to take the business where it needs to go. So it’s not too surprising that businesses don’t measure learning; they measure results.

Continue Reading »

by Reni Gorman

What is Problem Solving?

Whenever a living creature has a goal but doesn’t know how to accomplish it, they engage in problem solving. (Holyoak & Morrison, 2005) Problem solving is considered the most complex of all intellectual functions, as a higher-order cognitive process that requires activation and control of more routine or fundamental skills in order to solve the problem at hand. (Goldstein & Levin, 1987) There are a number of methods for problem solving, including:

  1. Difference reduction, in which we keep reducing the distance between the current state and the goal step by step;
  2. Means-end analysis, where we work backwards from end goal and set sub goals; and
  3. Analogy strategy, where we find similar problems we have solved with pervious strategies and try those same strategies on the new problem.

This is just a basic list; there are many other problem-solving methodolgies. So, how can we set up our learners to succeed?

Conditions under which Learners might Demonstrate Good Problem Solving

Gestalt psychologists have outlined a number of features that make problem solving more difficult, they are as follows: (Holyoak & Morrison, 2005) Continue Reading »

Simple Steps to Help you Think Like a Genius by Michael Crosson

Inspired by the bestselling book “How to Think like Leonardo da Vinci” by Michael J. Gelb

 “The only real failure in life is the failure to try.”  – Anonymous

 “Do or do not. There is no try.” – Yoda

I have an eight-year-old daughter. Like most eight-year-olds, she is at an innocent age of discovery. Often times I find myself telling her “Don’t do that because…” or “Not that way; you should do this.” All the time, trying to provide experienced instruction; trying to help her learn how to do things “The Right Way.”

 More often than not, she will ignore my direction and push forward with whatever she was doing. This usually leads to me getting a dustpan & brush to clean up the situation.

Recently, I applied a little bit of “Curiosità” (curiosity) to this situation. Why did she do what I told her not to do? Was she being disobedient? Did she not understand the outcome I explained? Does she have a special hearing problem that prevents her from hearing my voice specifically?

 I’ve come to the conclusion that she is employing one of Da Vinci’s life principles: Demonstration.

When I warned her not to balance the four cat food bowls (yes…we have four cats) one-on-top-of-the-other, brimming with food, because they may fall…

…she wanted to see them fall. She wanted to see what would happen.

And how did I know they would fall? Perhaps a similar situation in my youth? Did I learn something from it?

Thus is the power of Demonstration.

Continue Reading »

Simple Steps to Help You Think Like a Genius, by Michael Crosson

Inspired by the bestselling book “How to Think like Leonardo da Vinci” by Michael J. Gelb

cu·ri·os·i·ty  (kyoor-ee-os-i-tee) 

 –noun,

1. the desire to learn or know about anything; inquisitiveness.

Have you ever stopped and said to yourself “Gosh, I wish I knew a lil’ something about everything.”?

I have. About 30 years ago. I guess that would put me in the “naturally curious” category.

Take a moment and think about all the things that you know about in life:

  • cooking
  • cleaning
  • working a computer
  • driving a car
  • building a paper airplane
  • playing a musical instrument
  • finding the right place to scratch behind your cat’s ear
  • knowing the wrong thing to say when your significant-other is in a bad mood

 

The list could easily go on and on and on….and you wouldn’t even scratch the surface of what we could learn in the span of a lifetime.

When Da Vinci lay on his death bed, he asked for forgiveness from God and man “for leaving so much undone.” This coming from a man whose combined life work and contributions have never come close to being replicated. Even at the end of his days, Da Vinici’s insatiable curiosity for everything drove him on.

Continue Reading »