Failure, Presentations, Rewards, & Social Media

Going Driving & Boating

Why We Learn More From Our Successes Than Our Failures - Science Daily

"We have shown that brain cells keep track of whether recent behaviors were successful or not," Miller said. Furthermore, when a behavior was successful, cells became more finely tuned to what the animal was learning. After a failure, there was little or no change in the brain - nor was there any improvement in behavior.

Also see this short essay from Signal vs. Noise: a recent Harvard Business School study found that when it comes to venture-backed entrepreneurship, the only experience that counts is success.

Another interesting view on the subject is Why is it hard to "unlearn" an incorrect fact?: You can overcome proactive interference by consistent (even silent) correction, especially when you space rehearsals over time. But it takes some conscious practice. We have to identify (or be told) when we have just made an error so that we can correct it immediately. Our inability to do so is typically the cause of the error's persistence.

Slides without presenters: three options - Clive Shepherd

The key is to approach the stand-alone slide show as something quite separate from a live presentation, which usually means significant adaptation. It also means choosing the most appropriate delivery format.

More information on presentations.

Rewards, dopamine and the brain: Could pennies and pills help you learn better? - Scientific American

Rewards, especially in combination with drugs that enhance the neurotransmitter dopamine, may boost both cognitive and tactile learning, according to research published today in the journal PLoS Biology.

Three Instantly Effective Social Media Ideas - Harvard Business

Many organizations lack the time, budget or experience to start from scratch. That doesn't limit your social media options to a generic corporate news blog or a standard-issue Facebook page.


Social Media, Adobe Captivate, Instructional Design, OmniOutliner, & Brain Processing

Cherries and Flowers

Mom-and-Pop Operators Turn to Social Media - New York Times

For Mr. Kimball, who conceded that he "hadn't really understood the purpose of Twitter," the beauty of digital word-of-mouth marketing was immediately clear. He signed up for an account and has more than 5,400 followers who wait for him to post the current location of his itinerant cart and list the flavors of the day, like lavender and orange creamsicle.

Social Network Marketing: What Works? - Harvard Business School

Low-status members (48 percent of the users in our sample), who are not well connected to others, are generally unaffected by the purchases of other members. Middle-status members (40 percent of the users) are moderately connected and show a strong and positive effect due to friends' purchases. In other words, this group shows strong "keeping up with the Joneses" behavior. Members of the high-status group (12 percent of the users) are well connected and are very active on the site. However, these users show a negative effect due to friends' purchases because they want to remain distinct.

Adobe Captivate 4: Making Objects Visible By Default... Or Not - I Came, I saw, I Learned...

For instance, you might want to add two buttons on a slide. The buttons are intended for two different audiences. If the student were to click button 1, a previously hidden text caption would appear; if the student were to click button 2, a previously hidden button might appear offering all kinds of potential branching scenarios... the options are quite literally endless.

A review of Adobe Captivate eLearning Suite.

What are the Results of Following an Instructional Design Process? - Kapp Notes

A systematic approach provides good sound instruction and promotes learning and knowledge acquisition. As designers of instruction via mobile, virtual worlds or social networking, we cannot ignore good instructional design. Many benefits can be obtain by following an instructional design model.

For more information on the various models see ISD and ID.

OmniOutliner for eLearning Storyboarding - eQuixotic

If you're lucky enough to do eLearning development on a dual Mac/Windows setup (as I am, running Windows XP via VMware Fusion on a 24 iMac), you can appreciate the immense value of being able to pick and choose the best applications from either platform to most effectively accomplish your tasks.

Oprah, Luke Skywalker And Maradona: New Study Investigates How Our Brains Respond To Them - Science Daily

The processing of visual and auditory information follows completely different cortical pathways in the brain, but we are showing that this information converges into single neurons in the hippocampus, at the very end of these pathways for processing sensory information.

Also see Visual Learners Convert Words To Pictures In The Brain And Vice Versa.


OJT, Information, Personal Connections, Social Media, & Color Themes

Spider on a Web

On the Job Training - A Second Look - Elliott Masie in Learning TRENDS #585

...when you ask a dozen workers in almost any organization, about how they learned their job - most will point to On The Job Training. If we define OJT in the broadest sense, it might include all of e-Learning and Performer Support technology. But, zoom it in a bit and think of the process of one worker teaching another worker how to do a task - in the workplace - and we still have a huge chunk of learning activity. Yet, most organizations don't deeply focus on how to make On The Job Training (or Learning) more effective.

Information Wants to be Expensive... - Gary Woodill in Workplace Learning Today

First, Wozniak said that 'it was a shame companies wouldn't give engineers the rights to products they developed if the company decided not to market them."
Brand answered, "On the one hand, information wants to be expensive, because it's so valuable. The right information in the right place just changes your life. On the other hand," he said, "information wants to be free, because the cost of getting it out is getting lower and lower all the time. So you have these two fighting against each other."

What A Coincidence! Personal Connections Improve Sales - Science Daily

If a salesperson shares a birthday or a birthplace with you, you're more likely to make a purchase and feel good about it, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research. Naturally social people are more responsive to such coincidences, on the other hand, people who tend to isolate themselves from the outside world are less sensitive. Via Twitter.

What the F**K is Social Media: One Year Later Marta Kagan on Slideshare (83 slides)

The sequel to the original What the F**K is Social Media (74 slides). For more on media see Marshall McLuhan.

Kuler Color Selector - Adobe

Select and change color themes. To see and or change the numerical values (RGB, HSV, CMYK, LAB, HEX), click the small square box next to "News & Features." Via Twitter.


Creativity, Wikis, Personality, & the Finish Line

The Classroom

An Easy Way to Increase Creativity - Scientific American

What makes us more creative at times and less creative at others?

One answer is psychological distance. According to the construal level theory (CLT) of psychological distance, anything that we do not experience as occurring now, here, and to ourselves falls into the "psychologically distant" category. It's also possible to induce a state of "psychological distance" simply by changing the way we think about a particular problem, such as attempting to take another person's perspective, or by thinking of the question as if it were unreal and unlikely.

For more on creativity see copyblogger's: Do You Have These 11 Traits of Highly Creative People?

Wikis Get Enlisted in Military Experiments - ReadWrite web

In some ways, these rigidly hierarchical organizations are displaying an real willingness to experiment, compared to the civilian businesses declaring themselves enterprise 2.0.

Things That Can't Be Taught - Roger Schank in eLearn Magazine

It's not possible to teach or train individuals to do things that are not in line with their personalities. This matters because much of what we try to teach in school and train in the real world is really an attempt to alter personality.

The New Finish Line for Learning - Cal Wick, Roy Pollock, and Andy Jefferson in ASTD

To reach the new finish line, training professionals must treat training as a process; drive follow-through, transfer, and application; and better engage managers and participants.


Ignorance, Instructional Design, College, Memories, & the Workforce

Sunset in the Yard

Brain Response To Information About The Future Suggests That Ignorance Isn't Bliss - Science Daily

The authors conclude that the same dopamine neurons that signal primitive rewards like food and water also signal the cognitive reward of advance information. Importantly, this finding has important implications for modern theories of reinforcement learning. "Our data shows the need for a new class of models that assign information a positive value," says Dr. Bromberg-Martin. "Dopamine neurons might treat information as desirable because it can help us learn how to predict and control our environment."

Technical Writing vs Instructional Designing - Is it really a tug of war? - The Writers Gateway

Technical Writing and Instructional Designing are never considered one and the same. If you go for a job interview, the hiring manager asks you for relevant experience in Instructional Desiging or Technical Writing. If you are applying for the post of a Technical Writer, only your experience in technical writing is considered. If you are applying for the post of an Instructional Designers, your experience on paper is considered and salary is fixed accordingly.

No Size Fits All - New York Times

Community college enrollment has been increasing at more than three times the rate of four-year colleges. This year, in the middle of the recession, many schools are seeing enrollment surges of 10 percent to 15 percent. And the investment seems to pay off. According to one study, students who earn a certificate experience a 15 percent increase in earnings. Students earning an associate degree registered an 11 percent gain.

Fleeting Memories - Cognitive Edge

An excellent illustration of the way that we pay attention to fragmented anecdotal for good reason, its recall is far easier than a manual or best practice document, and it has higher utility.


For the most part, employer-sponsored readiness training is not successfully correcting these deficiencies, according to the report, The Ill-Prepared U.S. Workforce: Exploring the Challenges of Employer-Provided Workforce Readiness Training, produced by Corporate Voices for Working Families, the American Society for Training & Development (ASTD), The Conference Board, and the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).


Training, Media, Learning Paths, Brain, & Twitter

Flowers in Bloom
CC photo by DRC

Simulating Medical Situations Helps Students Learn, Retain Basic Science Concepts - Science Daily

Immediately after the simulation, the students were presented with the same four questions they were asked following the lecture. Their answers showed that they were much more likely to demonstrate mastery of the information by answering all four questions correctly on the post-simulation test than on the post-lecture only test

Lost in the new media universe - Guardian

Why did this teen's memo, short on evidence but long on declarative sentences, get so much play among mainstream media outlets? In other words: Why is one 15-year-old's middling analysis of teen media use being interpreted as the new bible of social media? The answer is simple. We're lost in a forest, and we're looking for a guide to lead us out. We live in a world where knowledge is abundant and access is near-ubiquitous. What's scarce is the ability to sift through the information, to extract, synthesise and circulate key ideas to a public that's starving for someone to serve as an intelligent filter. The knowledge-abundance model is a first for humankind, and we're struggling to come to terms with what this shift means for every institution we've erected, from economics to education to religion to work.

Also see The misuse of social media.

It Takes More Than a Learning Path Guy Wallace in The Pursuing Performance Blog

The goal of the Path designers are to create something "as flexible as feasible and as rigid as required."

Adult brain can change within seconds - Physorg

The human brain can adapt to changing demands even in adulthood, but MIT neuroscientists have now found evidence of it changing with unsuspected speed. Their findings suggest that the brain has a network of silent connections that underlie its plasticity.

Twitter Back on Track In June With 20 Million U.S. Visitors - TechCrunch

Twitter may not be for teens, but plenty of other people are flocking to the service. After taking a breather in May, when U.S. unique visitor growth almost screeched to a halt, Twitter picked up the pace again in June. According to comScore, in June Twitter.com attracted 20.1 million unique visitors in the U.S., up 14 percent from May.


Leadership & Revolution, Social Media, Memory, & Virtual Teams

Kids at Work
CC photy by DRC

How to stage a revolution - Technology Review

...the key to seizing power, or at least gaining a significant foothold, is the effective distribution of a small number of leaders within a larger group. "A better distribution pattern has larger influential region and greater clustering factor, which can equip the leaders with the capability of influencing more followers in a given period and strengthening the persuasion power on the followers as well," says the team.
That's an interesting idea which may explain why the effectiveness of internet-based grass-roots campaigns, both political and commercial, which we have seeen in recent years. The take-home point here is that it's not just what you're saying that's important, it's how you distribute your message.

Interactive, social media advertising to reach $55 billion - smart company

New figures from Forrester Research show the US interactive advertising market is set to reach $55 billion over the next five years. The forecast also shows that marketers will go from spending just 12% of total advertising budgets online to 21% of advertising budgets by 2014.

Why It Is Easy To Encode New Memories But Hard To Hold Onto Them - Science Daily

If you can't seem to forget those ABBA lyrics you heard in seventh grade but can't remember Lincoln's Gettysburg address, the vagaries of LTP might be to blame. Neuroscientists think that the process, in which a brain synapse becomes more potent after repeated stimulation, underlies the formation and stabilization of new memories.

Long-Distance Relationship Troubles in Virtual Teams - Human Resource Executive

New research shows that 13 of 14 common workplace-relationship problems, such as broken commitments, mistrust and misrepresentation of information, occur more than twice as often with virtual teams, as opposed to teams located in the same building.


Team Knowledge, Ideas, Design Color, & Better Questions

Silver Dollar Seed Pod

Feeling the heat: The effects of performance pressure on teams' knowledge use and performance - Heidi K. Gardner in Harvard Business School

Why do some teams fail to use their members' knowledge effectively, even after they have correctly identified each other's expertise? This paper identifies performance pressure as a critical barrier to effective knowledge utilization. Performance pressure creates threat rigidity effects in teams, meaning that they default to using the expertise of high-status members while becoming less effective at using team members with deep client knowledge.

Synaptic Cleft - SciVee

Need an idea on how to turn a topic into a creative piece of art? Then check out this parody of Wu-Tang Clan's "Gravel Pit" that was made into a short film for Human Biology 4A's unit on Neuroscience. Includes the lyrics in case you have a hard time following the rap.

14 Brilliant Tools for Evaluating Your Design's Colors - Six Revisions

Making sure that you choose the appropriate colors for a design is very important for readability. In addition, ensuring that the colors you select are viewable by persons with vision deficiencies such as color blindness is a good practice to follow when thinking about web accessibility. Also check out their article, 10 Things Every Web Designer Just Starting Out Should Know.

How to Ask Better Questions - HBP

The most effective and empowering questions create value in one or more of the following ways:

  • They create clarity: "Can you explain more about this situation?"
  • They construct better working relations: Instead of "Did you make your sales goal?" ask, "How have sales been going?"
  • They help people think analytically and critically: "What are the consequences of going this route?"
  • They inspire people to reflect and see things in fresh, unpredictable ways: "Why did this work?"
  • They encourage breakthrough thinking: "Can that be done in any other way?"
  • They challenge assumptions: "What do you think you will lose if you start sharing responsibility for the implementation process?"
  • They create ownership of solutions: "Based on your experience, what do you suggest we do here?"


Performance Reviews, Learning, & Coffee

Ethiopian coffee-roasting ceremony
photo by Bsivad

The Trouble with Performance Reviews - Businessweek

Possibly the biggest issue, however, is that performance appraisals focus managers' attention on precisely the wrong thing: individual people. As W. Edwards Deming, the father of the quality movement, taught a long time ago, company performance often results more from variations in systems than from the individuals doing the work.

The New Finish Line for Learning - ASTD

Some of the authors of The Six Disiplines of Training write about the bar being raised on successful training delivery. On-the-job performance improvement is the newest gauge of effective learning transfer.


While I normally stick to posts that are related to learning and performance, I could not resist pointing to this article in Science Daily: Caffeine Reverses Memory Impairment In Mice With Alzheimer's Symptoms. For another view, see this report.

After all, I did spend 14 years in the coffee industry. There have been other resech that shows the possible heath benefits of drinking coffee:

If you liked to learn more about coffee, check out my Wire Java Fanatic site.


Social Media & Learning, HTML 5, Brain Training, & Wikis

Blue Flower

Spies, Twitter and gardening: social media meets learning - Donald H Taylor in Corporate Training

If the US intelligence services - notorious for keeping a tight grip on information - have been convinced that sharing information more widely is a good idea, why is that, and what does it have to do with learning?
The answer is that sharing information is one of the ways in which we learn naturally, possible the most natural way of learning we have. After all, when faced with a problem the instinctive reaction is to ask someone for help. Do they have an answer? Do they know someone else who does? Have they met similar problems before?

HTML 5 and eLearning Development - The Upside Learning Solutions Blog

Those of you have heard of HTML 5 will know it's a new version of HTML and XHTML being promoted by Google and Apple in a bid to move the web away from proprietary technologies like Flash, Silverlight and JavaFX. It makes HTML more powerful by adding new elements like video and audio. A list of new elements in HTML 5 can be found here at IBM's site and the draft specification is available here at W3C's site.
HTML and Flash are most commonly used today for developing elearning content. HTML is used for simple 'page-turner' type of courses while Flash is used for interactive courses that contain animations and/or audio. Like most other eLearning developers, we prefer developing content using Flash over HTML because HTML can't support rich vector graphics with animations essential for delivering an engaging learning experience.
However HTML 5 has the potential to change all that. If developers can create animations, play audio and video without having to depend on Flash or Silverlight that would excellent. HTML 5 is particularly useful for organizations with 'no plug-in' policy because it will render natively in HTML 5 capable browsers. Also HTML 5 would help create more platform independent applications which can run across browsers eliminating the need for testing on multiple browsers.

Do Brain Trainer Games and Software Work? - Scientific American

The best memory enhancer is exercise, Snyder says. [For more on exercise and the brain, see "Fit Body, Fit Mind?'] Secondarily, a good diet and an active social life have brain benefits. Does software improve on those standbys, he asks? "Frankly, I have my doubts. The evidence isn't in."

HOW TO: Use Wikis for Business Projects - Mashable

One of the best web tools available to businesses for enabling teamwork and collaboration is the wiki. Few things speak more to staying in the flow of one's work than just clicking "Edit This Page" where you see something that needs to be written or re-written. Though Wikis have been around since the 90s, their potential for business collaboration has made them more popular in the business world over the past few years.
While a wiki can let project documentation grow organically as a project unfolds, it is like any tool and needs to be used the right way to get the most out of it. If you're thinking about using a wiki in your team's toolkit for the first time, keeping a few points in mind will help everyone get up and running without tripping over the changes that the wiki way brings to project documentation.