ram's blog

Make It A How-To!

A lesson on how to do something is inherently more engaging than a lesson on what something is. For an instructor, it is “easier” — to use the term loosely — to teach “how to” than to explain “this is what it’s all about.”

Making Your Learner Think, Part II: The Value Of Linear Prose

What makes traditional, pre-1990s books so different from today’s popular books and e-books? To generalise somewhat, the presentation differs in almost every way: Paragraph structure, bulleted lists, visual elements, boxed islands of information, and so forth.

Interface Design: The Problem With "Intuitive"

With user interfaces, there's always been the tussle between cluttered and minimalist, what people are used to versus what is better, aesthetic versus functionality. What garners the most debate is minimalistic versus rich interfaces.

Constructing Analogies: Three Mistakes To Avoid

A new concept is often best explained by means of an example or an analogy. It is not easy to come up with a good metaphor every time: Some educators and instructors are more adept at it, some less so.


How To View An Autostereogram (It’s How Reading Comprehension Happens)

If you’ve properly viewed an autostereogram, you know that it can be hard to get the picture — literally.


Improving Learner Recall: Six Interlinked Elements

While memory has been a topic of research and speculation for centuries, good educators have long known — from experience — how to improve recall. It is relatively easy to think about the material being presented, to analyse it, and to comprehend it. It is more difficult to recall it, and it is even more difficult to make the recall last months or years.

Humour Is Essential In The Classroom — And It's Not Just About Jokes

In military instructional institutions around the world, it is customary to begin lessons with a couple of minutes of jokes. This is done with military precision, so it might or might not have the desired effect of lightening up the audience — but the principle holds.

Should you listen to music while working?

Can music in the background actually help you read, work, and comprehend written material better?


The Old School

What Merits Are There To The 19th-Century Schooling System?

Making Your Learner Think, Part I: Be Subtle

Subtlety works... In advertising, in movies, in arguments, and in learning material.

The Case For Rote Learning — In Schools And Elsewhere

Rote learning, or learning by heart, got a bad name quite some decades ago. A Time Magazine article in 1986 showed Japanese schoolchildren in a classroom, with words and numbers in neat columns on the blackboard. The caption read, “...In Japan, rote learning is still emphasised...” The article implied that in the West, rote learning had gone out of fashion, having been replaced by critical thinking.

The Role of Analogy in Learning

How does the brain learn? The question might seem too broad, and the answers might seem complex. But if we were to state it in a word, the answer would be Analogy.

Why Infographics in Your E-Learning Course?

A post on readwrite from March 2012 speaks about the "infographic trend." Author Dave Copeland says, "this latest visual Internet fad of telling almost every story with a dense infographic is something that I'm hoping will soon be played out." Excess is bad, and infographics might be a trend — like tag clouds. But they are an immensely useful way of representing information. Here's why.

E-book Readers: More Than Meets The Eye (Part II)

In Part 1, we looked at three negative implications for e-book readers as a medium. Here in part 2, we will look at what five authorities on language, informatics, and neuroscience have had to say about the medium.

E-book Readers: More Than Meets The Eye (Part I)

The convenience and utility of e-book readers is undisputed. A few years ago, resolution and readability were an issue; as of 2013, they are amazingly close to physical books. The first time one uses a virtual book is usually an amazing experience. Is there any reason at all to prefer physical books?

Internationally recognised standardised tests: Are they accurate measures of scholastic ability?

Standardised tests, such as the SAT and GRE, are often criticised for not doing a good job at measuring what they are supposed to. Critics question the accuracy of the evaluations themselves, and also what the tests are supposed to achieve (namely, predicting academic performance in college or graduate school).

The issues are broad-ranging:

Six Basics of Efficient Reading

Reading and listening are at the foundation of most learning. While we don’t need to be taught how to listen well, many of us read suboptimally. We might spend more time reading something than we should, or maybe we can’t recall enough. Or, a potentially interesting passage might seem boring.

Looking Up Things To Figure Them Out: The Google Generation

Einstein was once asked to leave a classroom for talking back to his teacher, saying that memorising history dates was useless: “When you need one, you can look it up in a book,” he said. But what happens when an entire generation grows up with the idea that anything can be looked up?

How to ensure your learner doesn’t drift off!

Making a course interesting, engaging and interactive is the subject of instructional design. Here, we’ll do a quick round-up of dos and don’ts that can save your course from being clicked straight through to the end! 

A Quick Take On Twitter As A Learning Tool

Can Twitter be used as a learning tool, in conjunction with — or independent of — the classroom?

Creating MCQs, Part III: Alternative Types of Multiple Choice Questions

This three-part whitepaper explores some possibilities and ideas in creating multiple choice questions (MCQs). In Part III, we look at alternatives to the basic MCQ.


Creating MCQs, Part I: Which is the Right Question?

This three-part white paper explores some possibilities and ideas in creating multiple choice questions (MCQs). In Part I, we look at:

  • Framing questions with the correct focus
  • Best practices in MCQ creation
  • Making distracters plausible

Learner-centric Training: Beyond the Buzz

Knowledge workers deal with larger amounts of information every year, and avenues of knowledge dissemination increase at a similar rate. The knowledge manager needs to ask more and more often: Is my training programme working? And, further: Are my training costs justified? Do I need to adopt a new training paradigm? I can’t retain all my employees, but can I retain their working knowledge?

ROI In Training: The Good, The Bad, And... The Real

The value of training often needs to be declared in monetary terms before a programme begins. The value might need to be demonstrated after the training ends. Various members of an organisation—the training manager, upper management, the HR people, and others—can have different ideas about the ROI.

Learning 2.0: Accelerating Learning

Taking a conceptual look at the idea of "Social Learning", a string of ideas is apparent. Ease of access to information means that more people are on the network, and that information exists in more locations. This in turn causes more people to access information. At the next level: there is more interaction between people, and also, people and information have begun to interact.