Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Karl Kapp "The Case of the Disengaged Learner" #ATDTK

These are my liveblogged notes from Karl Kapp's session at ATD TechKnowledge, happening this week in Las Vegas. Forgive any typos or incoherencies.

Karl Kapp professor of ID at Bloomsburg University, author of a lot of great books on eLearning, and general eLearning smarty pants. 

The average person checks their cell phone 150 times a day - that's nine times an hour.

Smartphone users spend 2.5 hours a day on their phones, some of that playing games. People are in engaged...but not with our training!

Al Switzer: " a study of 2300 said only 6% of organizations are actually changing employee behavior."

18% of employees are actively disengaged. They exude negativity.  They're not interested in learning and dev. They close themselves out of solutions and organizational problems.  They're just putting in time.

Learners remember facts better when they're in the form of a story -- and NOT a bulleted list. Research shows that humans have an inclination toward stories. Your frontal cortex gets active - it's like your brain is rehearsing what it hears in a story.

Expert vs. novice learners -- an expert has a lot of knowledge to call upon and a lot of stories in their bank already. We can give learners stories and case studies -- because they work really well. It's the closest thing to giving people practice in the experience.

Start instruction with ACTION and not objectives.  Draw the learner in with action and encourage engagement. Make the learner do something. Have them identify something right away; make a decision right away; answer a question. Give them a complicated problem to solve. Confront a challenge. Create a curiosity gap -- something you can do before hand that will raise a question that they want to know the answer to.

Law & Order (the tv) creates open loops -- you HAVE to watch to the end to find out what happens. Leave them on a pulls you along.

In ID we create a closed loop: "by the end of this module, you will learn..."  Instead open with "Do you know the #1 method to close sales in our company. Find out in this module."

Start with a question that pulls the learner in - this creates an OPEN LOOP that draws them into the instruction. Don't lead with the objectives (you still need 'em to design your instruction).

Create a challenging experience. Don't make it frustrating, but create some struggle to get to the answer. Our best experiences are when we have that ah-ha moment, that breakthrough.

Create flow. Have an achievable task.

Leaderboards aren't that motivating after the tenth person -- number eleven thinks, there's no way I can do that...

The task should require concentration and have clear goals.

The learner should have some control over their actions. Give them levels of choice, but parameters.

Add novelty. New and different catches our attention. Our brains are programmed to filter out repetitive activities. There's no danger in them, we don't care. It's the novel and new that we pay attention to. Surprise works.

Inconsistency -- surprising stats -- when something turns out to be different than what you think.

People seek out activities that seem complex. And yet we so often dummy down e-learning. Prepare people for the complexity of life.

Give them the Kobayashi Maru of challenges. (OK - Karl is now showing his true nerd colors with this Star Trek reference). "Here's a problem that you're not going to be able to solve." The motivation is intense when you think it can't be done.

Should we put the learner at risk or let the learner safely explore their environment. Put them at risk! If there's no risk, there's no skin in the game. Get the learner involved and put them into a "mock" risk.

  • They might have to start have to get five questions in a row correct. If you don't get them correct, you get five more. Now people pay attention, because they don't want to have to do five more questions.
  • The risk of not solving the problem. the risk is they don't solve the problem and it's an endless open loop.
  • Losing points, losing the game.
  • Answer a question -- why did you answer the question the way you did (social credibility).
In games, failing is allowed. It's part of the process. How much of your learning uses failure as a tool? Think about it - how much of what you've learned is a result of failure. When you fail, you go back and reflect on it.

More tips:

  • Provide multiple scenarios
  • First person thinkers (drop someone into a situation and you have to go solve some problems. Immersively solving problems)
  • Branching stories work really well for novice and intermediate learners. For experts, branching stories don't work that well. Because they wouldn't pick any of the four choices given. Tailor the instruction a little different for experts. Typically they just want the info to move on. They want bigger challenges. They've seen a lot of case studies. It's the nuances that interest them and not the broad concepts. Experts also ask themselves a lot of questions.  "How is this similar to a problem I've encountered before?" "Have i identified the real problem?" "What variables do I need to consider?"
  • Create a learning documentary of how to do a job, how decisions are made and dots connected.  In a reality show you see what someone is doing and then you hear them talking through what they did -- debrief style, talking to the camera. Have them think aloud the process they go through. (But be aware, experts don't always know exactly what they're doing. But in most orgs, no one has tapped the experts' brains...)

Key takeaways:

  • Story/characters
  • Polling/audience input (Karl used Poll Everywhere and other audience input techniques. Lots of questions. Asking questions and typing the crowd's answers into the slides that we were looking at).
  • Humor
  • Mystery/Curiosity
  • Blend story/instruction (he could have just given us this bulleted list -- but Karl's presentation was this detective story and we had to solve the clues along the way -- see the slides at Karl Kapp)
  • Surprise
  • Winners/Teams (during the presentation we all chose a color team through poll everywhere. He asked questions at key points and kept score. The orange team won).
  • Open Loop


Karl Kapp said...


Thanks so much for attending the session and for your great live blogging notes. Great to see you at ATD.


Laura said...

I too attended Karl's Gamification workshop when he presented in Milwaukee. We found the statistics particularly useful in discussing what does and does not work with training scenarios. Thanks Cammy and Karl!

Unknown said...

I too attended the Gamification workshop in Milwaukee. It was the first Karl Kapp presentation I have seeen. I do agree with the elearning smartypants comment. :) I found the statistics particularly interesting and relative to picque the interest of potential business users. We have been in the learning space for quite some time and it is amazing & fun when you strike a nerve with a potential customer. Thanks for putting this information together.

Cammy Bean said...

Glad to hear you're making use of Karl's statistics Laura and Erv!

And Karl, for you, anything :)