Dave Pollard has a post on what communication methods are most effective. He has created a table that compares several media as to their cost, impact, value and cost/benefit. This is a good table for instructional designers to consider before creating educational media, and as Dave says, it’s open to revision.
Dave goes on at the end of this post to list his principles of human learning preferences:
- People like information conveyed through conversations and stories because the interactivity and detail gives them context, not just content, and does so economically.
- People hate talking heads, and are increasingly intolerant of them.
- People no longer have the opportunity for serendipitous learning and discovery — everything they read and learn is narrow, focused, bounded, and the tools they are given in their reading and research reinforce this blinkered approach to learning. The consequence is the intellectual equivalent of not eating a balanced diet — a malnourished mind.
- People do not know how to do research, or even search, effectively. They think these two things are the same, which they are not, and they have never been trained to do either properly. It’s a good thing the search engines are so smart, because our use of them is mostly dumb.
- People search as a last resort. They prefer to ask a real person for what they want to learn or discover, because it’s faster and the answer is more context-specific. And if there is a single good browsable resource on their subject of interest, readily at hand, and they have the time, they will usually prefer to browse that resource rather than looking at a bunch of disconnected, often irrelevant, search engine matches.
Continuing from my last post on Controlling Chaos?, I would suggest that these preferences show that learner behaviour indicates that better tools, like tag clouds, are needed to enable serendipitous learning (Point #3) and that better built-in search is critical for finding good learning resources (Points #4 & 5).
Dave’s principles also support the idea that we should put more effort into contextualising online learning and less on cataloguing information/learning objects (Point #1). This is similar to the concept of Stock & Flow, because having meticulously catalogued & tagged Stock (learning objects) is of little value without the contextual Flow (conversations & stories).