October 11, 2005

Does Learning Get Better with Use?

Bryan Menell at learning20 posts an interesting blog entry asking the question, Does learning, specifically, elearning get better the more people use it?  What a great question to ask.  How could we do this? An obvious answer that Bryan points out is allowing the learners to review the learning module.  This is a pretty good first step.  What other frameworks might there be for encouraging learner participation?  I have thought of a few.

(1) I think that allowing the learner to engage in a learning activity, an interaction, and having that performance captured for future learners may be another way.  For example, when a learner takes a simple quiz, the immediately get their score compared to everyone who has taken the course. I used a service likek this for daily exercising called SportBrain.  It was really engaging.  It was also part of their premium services.

(2) Use an industry data source to keep content up-to-date and in context.  I ran across this idea a few years back when I was developing an elearning solution for the Mining industry.  The federal agency that monitors safety in Mining keeps detailed records of safety-related incidents and makes them available to the public.  We took the database and integrated it directly into the courses.  It was dynamically updated each quarter.  If you could take this example and integrate other community generated data then the courses would be improved based upon community activity.  Consider an example where corporate performance was integrated into a lesson on process improvement.

(3) Another thought comes from Stephen Downes and the idea of creating a recommendation service.  This goes back to Bryan's idea and I have been thinking about it since Launch, now part of Yahoo, launched their music service during the dotcom era.  The service would create a customized radio station based on your ratings of the music being played.  If we could allow learns to easily provide feedback as they navigate through learning content, the feedback could used to improve what types of content are provided in the future.  However, the divisity of learning content makes this a more complex system compared to listening to audio content.

I am sure there are a lot more.  Any thoughts?


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