Isn’t it somewhat tragic, or fun if you like: We know since many decades back that people loose attention during a lecture after few minutes. We also know that most things spoken about by a teacher during a lecture is forgotten after one hour. We already know all that. And we have known it for long. But now there is Big Data on it.However. Now when actors over the globe have started to produce E-learning all of this is discovered again. For instance it has rather recently become known that a video-clip in an E-learning module should not be longer than lets say 7-15 minutes (like TED). If longer: the audience fall a sleep and leave (unless it is a really great documentary of course, like the ones made by BBC). We do now track what people do when doing E-learning so now we have figures on the loss of attention. Big Data on lack of attention is on the rise. We know when they start, when the stop, when they leave and do something else. It is a huge amount of discussion on Big Data and E-learning at this moment. Really cool stuff right?
But still we call that a discovery. Sad right? It seems like we needed E-learning to learn that attention is of huge importance in order not to loose the audience even though we already did know that before E-learning appeared.
What does this actually tell us about how traditional education is being broadcasted? Well I guess, we did learn that education normally is exactly that: Broadcasted. But did we really think these kinds of discoveries are embedded in the E-learning medium as such? Did we think they did stop listening after some minutes just because it was given to them via E-learning – but they kept listening during traditional lectures?
Some people manage to read a boring and really un-pedagogical technological manual and learn from it. Mainly it is because they do have an interest in learning what is inside. Most often because they want to use the device, or the software, described in the manual. If you have attention you could nearly learn anything, no matter how boring the medium is and the presentation is done. The higher degree of attention, the more you want it, the lousier stuff you cope with. Still you learn. It happens simple because you do really want to learn.
On the other hand: If you have absolutely no interest in learning at al. Assume you really don’t care. Then it is nearly impossible to learn something, no matter the medium. I can try forcing you to learn. But still you will not manage to do it.
Attention is everything. The person learning is everything. The teacher is only a mediator – hopefully a good tool used for your learning. Teachers might try teaching. But it is the audiences that do learn, or not learn. It is really a huge difference between teaching and learning. And that seem to be possible to claim again and again and again – without attention being given to it. Irony is a great thing right?
So what is the teachers’ role here? Or what should it be? To assume that there is interest and then just broadcast anything without really putting energy and effort to it – simply because it is easy when the audience do have attention and then anything goes? Meaning: In such situation the teacher can actually nearly do anything and still there will be learning. Or is the teachers’ role to increase attention with the help of the broadcasting so that people that are not really giving attention to the topic start caring about learning the topic?
Did we really need E-learning in order to learn that?
Well, tragic enough: it seems like it is actually what we do need. At least I haven’t heard any teacher seriously talking about the audiences’ attention before E-learning did pop up on the globe. And now suddenly huge amounts of teachers have started talking about the problem of getting peoples attention. As if there was attention before E-learning.
So maybe the really good thing about E-learning is that we finally might start learning what we already did know. Because if we don’t: I hope bad given education now will be killed simply because people getting to know that there a competitive ways to learn from (like a free E-learning solution for instance). And as a whole: I guess that would really be good for the globe as a whole.
My old professor said: “Learning is far to important to be left to the teachers to handle” to me once. I hope he smiles in heaven at this moment. At least I hope he does not cry everyday in heaven because of our common lack of learning what already was known.
So, if you use videos in your Ed-solution: make it as long as you like. But it better be good.
And if it is no good, 7 minutes is 7 minutes to long.
In other words: It is not the length of the video that is the trick. It is the content.