Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Spur Learning Through 'Curiosity Conversations' - Tip #100

Have you seen the movies Apollo 13, Splash and A Beautiful Mind? How about the TV series Arrested Development, 24 and Empire? Do you know what ties them all together? What makes them all similar and somehow connected?
Source: OWN - Oprah Winfrey Network

All of them are credited to award-winning Hollywood producer Brian Grazer. But more importantly, these films and TV series were a result of Grazer's "curiosity conversations." 

'Curiosity Conversations' to Expand Learning

Grazer defines curiosity as the "process of asking questions, genuine questions, that are not leading to an ask for something in return." The goals of a "curiosity conversation" is to learn an insight or the secret to someone's process or success and expand each other's lives. 

"Curiosity conversations" are basically informal discussions that Grazer had and is still having with individuals outside of the entertainment industry and which became the inspiration behind his creations.

Tips to Integrating 'Curiosity Conversations' in eLearning

Asking questions is a manifestation of one's curiosity. But other than proving someone has a thirst for learning, curiosity, or more specifically the asking of questions, is the oil we need to keep us going. Humans have been called the "ultimate learning machines," and as with any machine, we need to be maintained to continue working efficiently.

How do trainers or designers trigger curiosity in learners? Here are some suggestions:

1. Ask story questions 
In story-based elearning, story questions are powerful tools that stimulate learners to connect or relate new learning to their existing storehouse of experiences and memories. Asking what, where, when, why, and how questions-queries that can't be answered by yes or no-grants learners permission to open up or share their insights.

2. Have curiosity conversations 
In line with asking story questions, elearning professionals can try using Grazer's "curiosity conversations" to dive deep into the minds of each other to spur the creation of new ideas or simply to gain insights and new learning.

3. Provide an "exploration bonus" 
Although everyone has a baseline curiosity and curiosity itself is an intrinsic motivation, it might take more than a little bit of courage for learners to give in to it because that would mean going outside of their comfort zone. However, trainers and designers can give learners a little push by taking a leaf out of the evolution theory and provide an "exploration bonus" to learners. Reward learners for trying something new.


Curiosity is a trait which is in all of us. It's important for trainers and designers to be able to trigger or stimulate learners' interest since curiosity makes learning easier and fun for them.


Tom Stafford (June 19, 2012). "Why are We Curious?". BBC

Grubber, Matthias, et al. (October 2014). States of Curiosity Modulate Hippocampus-Dependent Learning via the Dopaminergic Circuit. Neuron

Tip #15 - How to Add Curiosity in eLearning Stories

Tip #28 - Create Memorable Story-based Test Questions

Tip#42 - Provoking Learners with Story Questions

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

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