Wednesday, February 24, 2016

What Happens When New Becomes Old? - Tip #89

Have you ever experienced having mastered a web-based learning tool and then be informed that the tool was discontinued? was new years back. Then and Prezi came. Then followed. Now,  there is Soon more will come - and this is just a sampling from a very, very long list. I follow Jane Hart's Top 100 Tools website which is a good reference.

When I saw the image and article from Style "When Old Becomes New", it reminded me of learning architecture. Oftentimes, the rapid and constant change and the abundance of options including the introduction of new software, which is usually free, cause learning professionals to be cautious or inhibit from testing and adopting the tools.

Might it be that we focus on the newness of the tools and forget that learning goes deeper than just the tools?

We  hear testimonials from those who adapt very well and we wonder how they consciously stay on top of the changes. There must be a common thread that makes it all worthwhile for these learning specialists to persist in their adaption and be willing to pay the price with their efforts and hours of labor.

Focus on impacts and not the tools

It is easy to be distracted by too many shining objects, new bells and whistles that glitter and are dangled in front of us as learning alternatives. Yet, let us realize the value that goes beyond the tool. We are wowed by the impacts the tool may have on how learners learn. Or should I say how the new tools make more apparent the old ways we learn, but manifesting it differently?

Preserving the old and adding the new

Ray Kurzweil, a pioneering thinker in accelerating learning suggests that technologies have far more contributions in how people learn and behave. At present, our behaviors are still driven by old DNA structures that are hard to change. However, with new discoveries in neurosciences and technologies, these behaviors could be magnified to help learners faster and better. I am inclined to believe that in many of our use of tools, we may have missed the chance to observe how these magnified behaviors benefit learners and speed up learning.

Magnifying learners' behaviors to learn faster and better

In my research and work with clients and in workshops, I observed four behaviors that are magnified when I use new forms of learning technologies. Others have observed the same: Clark Quinn, Jane Bozarth, and many others, so this is not totally new. However, I observed that the behaviors are not referred to using a common language and terminology in learning and training. The descriptors I use are merely my own way of making the ideas meaningful in my work.

The Seeker

I got this idea from a webinar participant. In order to learn faster, learners tend to be seekers of knowledge and information. They look for answers, solutions and connections that will work and solve problems. The emphasis is not about Google as a tool, but rather the attitude and skill to seek answers.

Action item: In designing a program, encourage the "seeker" behavior by inserting a challenge or an opportunity for participants to seek answers. The obvious tools of course are Google and other search engines. 

The Argumentator

The behavior of questioning assumptions against realities is about having an argument in one's mind. It helps learners discover what ideas work and how their minds are  when finding answers. We can also call this the questioning mind.

Action item: In designing a program, encourage the Argumentative Mind (Argumentator) by proposing a debate and asking learners to cite pros and cons and assumptions versus reality assumptions. You can use polling, survey and discussion tools.

The Value Maker
The learners learn faster when they add value by contributing a point of view, a new source, or a research reference. They add value to the learning of others in this way.  Above all, the process enhances the value of their own thinking and learning.

Action item: Ask learners to do a journal of their learning using a blog or discussion. In we use the Add Insight feature so Proberlearners can create micro-insights and micro-records as they learn.   

The Fact Finder - Prober

I attended an undergraduate class research presentation at Scripps College where Francesca , my daughter goes to school and one student reported how she used Amazon's Artificial Mechanical Turk market place. The student used Mturk to conduct her study by submitting a request in the community to do a specific activity (sometimes for free, at times for a fee) and allowed the student to collect data. The fact finder - Prober,  conducts systematic research and study to fully understand the data and learn from his/her research goals and findings.

Action item: For the length of a course, add a research project to help learners discover the facts and learn from their findings.

Context Maker - Evidence Thinker

The context maker is a mapper or pattern maker. He/she helps the learning process through extraction and extrapolation and adding context to the learning. One tool I love to use in my workshops is the micro-goal setting tool. It allows the learners to put into action an idea or concept in an actual micro goal and plan of action. This allows learners to make the idea crystal clear and adds an emotional experience while doing the micro-goal and plan. One of the significant benefit is a self-proof or evidence that ideas are put into action.

Action item: Ask learners to make a micro-goal and micro-plan of application. I emphasized micro since making the plans huge and extensive diminishes the chance of learners accomplishing the plans. 


I am fascinated with new tools. I wish and and am also confident that there are many more coming. Amidst the abundance of shiny new objects, there is a hidden, often easy to ignore set of learning behaviors that are magnified. It improves the returns on our investment of time, effort, and painful adaptions if we seek deeper beyond the tools and learn to magnify the behaviors. 


Centre for Learning & Performance Technologies

When Old Becomes New

Wolfram Alpha, Computational Knowledge Engine

Amazon's Artificial Mechanical Turk

Tip #75: Insight Sharing - How They "Meet and Mate

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

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