Wednesday, May 16, 2007

I'm getting emotional about e-Learning!

Are you emotional about your e-Learning? Do you understand what tapping into that emotional component means? When thinking about training SMEs to create decent e-Learning, we need be clear about what getting emotional means.

There's a difference between creating a tear-jerker of a program that reinforces all the wrong learning points, and creating those emotional hooks that motivate and engage the learner in your content in order to ensure knowledge transfer and retention.

Here's some good stuff on that.

I came across another good article by Clark Quinn, Making It Matter to the Learner: e-Motional e-Learning from 2006. He explores why it's imoportant to factor emotion into the design of an e-Learning program. "When we help learners emotionally, viscerally, understand why this coming experience is important to them, and maintain that interest through the learning experience, the outcomes are superior. If people care, they learn better." (p. 1)
In Quinn's view, "instructional design today is essentially completely focused on the cognitive. We are now beginning to talk about supporting learning styles (on the basis of very questionable models), but we do not systematically engage motivation, address anxiety, [and] really inspire learning." (p. 3)

[Clark, I'm interested to hear more of your thoughts on learning styles as you alluded to them here].

When we create good learning experiences, Quinn says "you'll want to engage learners emotionally as well as cognitively." (p. 6)

We motivate by showing the user why this content matters: the What's In It For Me. We address the user's anxiety by setting the appropriate expectations: "this part of the course will be kind of dry and the next part will be pretty hard..." We inspire learning by creating a compelling experience.

In another use of "emotion", Ruth Clark & Richard Mayer in e-Learning and the Science of Instruction recommend making "a distinction between emotional interest and cognitive interest." They say that, "emotional interest occurs when a multimedia experience evokes an emotional response in a learner, such as reading a story about a life-threatening event or seeing a graphic video. There is little evidence that emotion-grabbing adjuncts -- which have been called seductive details -- promote deep learning..." (p. 128)

R. Clark and J. Mayer go on by saying that we shouldn't attempt to "force excitement" with seductive, emotional details; instead "promote cognitive interest rather than emotional interest."

I think Clark Quinn and Ruth Clark (so many Clarks, so little time) are using "emotion" differently. Emotional/Seductive vs. Emotional/Motivate. Is there a better word to use than emotional? What do you think?


Clive Shepherd said...

Great post. I believe that what Ruth Clark and Richard Mayer were getting at was avoiding the 'sexing up' of content through the use of drama/ stories/ multimedia, etc., when this is not wholly relevant to the objectives. It might be attention-grabbing, even memorable, but it's not helping the learning.

Given that the 'emotional element' is relevant then I'm with Clark Quinn here. There's plenty of evidence that experiences with an emotional component are much more memorable.

Cammy Bean said...

So Clive, do you have any thoughts on the use of the word "emotional"? Some of this post was inspired by the 30-minute Masters Wiki, when we say to "hook them in emotionally".

It's easy to misunderstand "emotional" in that context -- to instead go down the road of the cheap, attention-grabbing and seductive (but distracting) story.

Is there a different word we should be using, or do we simply have to take care to define it?