Thursday, April 18, 2013

Refreshing and reinventing materials

Wordle: Team roles & repsonsibilites

This week I've started updating some older materials on Team Leadership. Without the aid of video or other expensive tools, it's a challenge to find ways in which to increase the visual content to suit a digital environment. One of the easiest is to use `Wordles' to get powerful visual language connections across. This leads me to thinking once again about the rise of visual media in the field of communications, and the inter-relationship between 'media' as in TV, news-publications, internet, magazines and education. Specifically, how much does the daily barrage of 'media' manipulate the expectations of our learners about how information should be presented to them? We know that attention span has been affected with shorter and shorter attention spans being recorded in the juvenile student population. Does this translate to adult learners? Can adult learner behaviour be changed? I recall listening to a presenter from an organisation that built simulators for heavy machinery training. He discussed the way in which the training program built around the use of the simulators could encourage young males, notorious for their inability to focus on theory in the written form, to change their behaviour and master the theory component, including the written assessment, by the with-holding of the right to drive the real machine, until all OH&S theory and simulated learning tasks had been completed and a 100% pass rate attained. 
This story is a fairly classic example of a well designed program tailored to suit learners with particular needs. When we target a more generalised learning population we have to use more generalised engagement techniques and visual aids are one of the primary keys to our engagement with our immediate environment. 
Using them in learning situations relates to our most basic instincts. When we are in a state of high alert, we constantly scan the environment around ourselves for visual clues to let us know if we are safe, if there is food, shelter, 
safe passage nearby. The visual clues help us to interpret our environment quickly. Using visual aids in learning can help the distracted learner interpret and key into the deeper information they need to know. They may help memory recall and may create a feeling of a more relaxed (safe) state of being when confronted with new knowledge.