Thursday, August 14, 2014

Why don't learners complete the job?

Elliott Masie writes in yesterday's Learning Trends about learners not finishing or continuing learning - he writes: "Learners start videos, begin eLearning modules, enroll in multi-segment MOOCs - and they don't continue or complete them". Today's technology allows us to pause, stop, and rewind on-line content - and much of the time we do not complete. Masie calls this "Learning Interruptus".

Even my most popular video on YouTube "How To...Create a Basic Gantt Chart in Excel 2010" (730,757 lifetime views) has only a 69% audience retention rate (av­er­age per­cent­age of a video your audi­ence watches per view) - this means not everybody is watching to the end. Below is a Google Analytics chart showing that the average retention rate for all my videos is just 49% (figures only available from Sept 1st 2012):

Recognise any of the following?

  • The phone rings, we stop what we are doing and answer it
  • Same for text message or other alerts
  • You get an email alert - again you stop what you were doing to see who it is (I've turned mine off)
  • You check Facebook/Twitter/Google+ in the middle of a task
  • Somebody knocks on your office door - you let them in

If you are watching an instructional video or an online seminar - you can always pause and come back - but do you come back?

Elliott Masie has some good suggestions to help overcome this such as setting markers where a learner has left off, or creating a reminder list to continue. I see students in class all the time checking material online, or checking their (silent) phones. If they were paying attention in my lecture they have just interrupted this learning. I think this is just something we all have got to live with. Only a few short years ago I insisted on screens being turned away in class and no mobile phones allowed - now I don't. For learners, handling these interruptions will be a challenge - any technology (as Masie suggests) would be great to help and encourage us all to complete our learning.

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