Saturday, May 2, 2015

Instilling a Love of Learning - Tip #49

How do trainers and designers help learners love what they learn and do?

Contrary to the practice of "I must teach, since learners don't know any better" belief, our learners do love learning and have accumulated knowledge and experiences.  

The IKEA Effect

In a series of experiments in Harvard, author Dr Michael Irwin Norton and his colleagues asked people  to build things out of Lego bricks, origami paper, and IKEA materials. The result? People who finished their projects viewed their products as highly as they would those that were created by a professional. There is very high regard for a product that they made and finished themselves, correlating completion with pride and satisfaction for a job well done. As the researchers say,

"I Did It!"

The IKEA effect is very visible in the behaviour of Do-it-yourself enthusiasts and novices. Being able to work on a project and finish it, creates a massive sense of accomplishment and nurtures the passion that they have for the activity.

The same self-sufficient cycle is very desirable in a learning environment. As designers and experts, our role is to guide and encourage the learners to do things by themselves. This way, the accomplishment is theirs and not ours.

Recursive Learning Revisited

In a previous blog article on Recursive learning, we emphasized that learners only learn by creating their "autobiographical memory" of an event and factual memory. Underneath the IKEA effect is recursive learning. Furthermore, learning by trial and error reinforces the theory that learning is is embedded in the nature of discovery.

Building Love in Your Learners' Work

There are many ways to build this kind of experience for our learners:

1. Teacher-fed learner vs DIY Learner

The fundamental challenge with teacher-fed learner style is that there is a lack of opportunity for learners to enjoy learning by adding loving labor to something they do by themselves. The IKEA effect reminds us that it is valuable to nurture a new breed of learners.  DIY learners are independent, self-sufficient and more enthusiastic about what they do and learn about.

2. Learning by Discovery (Trial and Error)

From our previous tip on Beng, Beng, BingoPeople learn best by trial error rather than following organized content. They are more inclined to explore and discover. They get excited as they learn from their own insights.

Always leave room for trial and error, even if you have pretty good-looking  lessons created as your labor of love.  Don't clip your learners' wings, cut off their imagination or frustrate their need to play.

3. More  Ways to Engage

In learning design, stories, discovery, games, and exercises allow learners to show and share their own products and projects. This  strengthens their sense of completion and validation. Allow them to express bragging rights and be proud of themselves to boost confidence. Claiming bragging rights is one positive aspect of showing a group of learners their scores upon completion of a game or gamification lesson.Provide more utilities or facilities to apply the IKEA Effect -- love of learning has to do more with loving work of labor; by doing, learners learn better and love their learning.

Framework Using Interactive Stories

In the illustration below, we have plenty of opportunities to use activities to promote the IKEA Effect. Present a short work-related incident, a story. Ask learners to interact with the report by journaling and experiencing, tracking numbers, handling a situation, making a presentation (conversing), conducting a poll, sketching ideas, and mapping the ideas. We use this framework in designing Story-based eLearning Design

Click to view a large version.


Prioritizing what the learners need, their concerns, and their challenges can make for a simpler, faster, and easier learning design. Plus, you gain more ground and accomplish more in a shorter period of time. The act of creating - or doing - reinforces the value of loving your work, and increases self-confidence and enjoyment.  These labours of love are important to creating DIY learners that appreciate what they do, what they have learned and what they can contribute as an individual.


The IKEA effect: When labor leads to love

Recursive Learning 

Story-Based eLearning Design

Tip #29: Trial and Error: Beng, Beng Bingo Learning

Ray Jimenez, PhD
Vignettes Learning
"Helping Learners Learn Their Way"

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