This week I’m in Orlando at the eLearning Guilds Learning Solutions conference. In advance I did decide to blog about the conference because it forces you to pay better attention and to make better notes. It deepens your learning experience. But how do you describe a day where you have met dozens of people, saw ton’s of demo’s and attended 6 or 7 presentations? I will not bother you with a detailed description of all the people I met today and the meetings I had. I will just pick out some highlights from the day.
For me a conference like this is an excellent networking opportunity and with 1500 people around, there are lot’s of possibilities to do just that. Visiting a learning conference is always special. The people who are present do all share a passion for what they do and you can feel that energy. It’s wonderful. I bet you don’t have that at a conference of insurance people or undertakers. We are at a bizarre place (I hope I don’t offend anybody). We are in Disneyland. The hotel is on walking distance of Dow Town Disney and it’s not my cup of tea. No interesting city to visit, no great landscapes, no sea to swim in. It’s a bit like Holland but without the cows and the rivers to make it a bit interesting. Anyway: here are my highlights of day one.
Keynote: ‘Brain rules for Learning’ by Dr. John Medina.
I enjoyed the keynote. John can present very well and he has interesting (and funny) stuff to tell. He is a developmental molecular bio scientist, who studies the working of the brain. His key message was that we hardly don’t know anything about the brain and how it works. All stories about us just using 10% of our brain or that we remember everything that we do in our live are complete crap (according to him). So what do we know about the brain?
- If new facts are presented (declarative information) we will store a maximum of seven items in our short-term memory. If the information is not repeated we will forget it. This is the immediate memory.
- If repeated within 30 seconds we will store it for another 2 hours, if it is not repeated we will forget it. When repeated it will get a place in the working memory.
- It takes over 10 years before it is stored permanently in the cortex of our brain, again we will forget it, when it is not repeated with in 2 years.
I don’t think a lot of e-Learning content has the ambition to last for more than a decade but the working of the short-term and working memory is interesting and will affect the way we design and create e-Learning. The other interesting thing was the ‘Theory of mind’. It says that people are able to read each others mind. You can ‘read’ the other persons rewards and punishing system and act accordingly to that. If you put it like that is sounds strange. But in fact it is what we call empathy. The point that he made was that great teachers all have great empathic abilities, because it enables them to adept their teaching to their observations. With e-Learning you miss that ability, so that is something to think about.
He had a lot more to tell, but for educators this has great impact. Learning is not about remembering, but it is all about not forgetting. If you want to learn (or should I say not forget) more you can read his book ‘Brain rules’ or visit his website. I advise you to do this within the next 30 seconds or other wise it will be just a waste of time.
An other highlight was the product presentation by Allen Interactions of their new product Zebra. I was really impressed. It is a new way of creating innovative learning objects without having any programmer skills. It’s completely object oriented and build and conceived in an excellent way. It’s still in Beta but it looks very promising, it will be released around June. Check it out on their website, it features an interview from Jay Cross with Michael Allen.
Yeah, what do you do as a middle aged guy on an evening when you are all alone in Disneyland? You sign up for a random dinner group. We ended up with a group of fourteen people and went to a mexican restaurant. It was great. I didn’t knew any of them, but we had some very interesting conversations. A great way to spent the evening!