By Dan Cooper, CEO, ej4.com
In doing research on the effectiveness of video-based e-learning media, I ran across some useful facts that are commonly quoted on the Internet:
This is all critical data for anyone trying to figure out what type of e-learning media to use, and how long to make courses. There’s just one problem. All of these facts are MYTHS. Yes, they’re simply not true.
What’s going on? In academia, you have to reference the original source. On the Internet, people quote people who quote people…who quote the first person. This is what’s called a circular attribution, where a “fact” takes on a life of its own without any identifiable source.
For example, the first myth is a misstatement of Albert Mehrabian’s classic study. The figures are correct, but they refer to the communication of attitudes, not content. That makes a lot more sense. There’s no way words can have such a low contribution otherwise.
The second myth has already been exposed—if you look hard enough. Search on “learning pyramid hoax,” and you’ll find that the source everyone references has no data to support the pyramid, and that it’s derived from the older “Cone of Experience,” which was never intended as anything more than a conceptual metaphor.
The third myth is simply a big question mark. While Google shows several references to the attention study, no original paper can be found. When I called the Psychology, Communication, and Education departments of the university, they had never heard of the supposed research.
So as a trainer, how do you make sure you’re using the right information for your organization?
For example, a New York Timesarticle quoted research that workers average only 11.5 minutes between interruptions. That’s an important figure to know if you’re trying to determine how long to make your e-learning courses.
Do your homework and you’ll find the 2005 paper, “No Task Left Behind? Examining the Nature of Fragmented Work,” from researchers at the School of Information and Computer Science of University of California, Irvine. Mark this one, TRUE.
That’s all it takes to separate myth from useful fact, and to make sure your organization is doing things for the right reasons when it comes to training.
Dan Cooper is CEO of ej4.com. Fast 4ward your learning—find out more at http://www.ej4.com.