If you asked me to name the one thing I most enjoyed at TechLearn this year it was Dave Hopla. He’s the US’s top basketball coach. Hugely entertaining. I’m a basketball fanatic, but even if you have never played or seen the game, watching someone put 110 out of 111 shots through the hoop was astonishing. Even more astonishing was the fact that as he was shooting, he was giving his talk. He even shot backwards and over his head from 6 yards and still scored!
‘What’s this got to do with e-learning?’ I hear you cry. ‘Everything’, is the answer. His message was pure – learning is about memory, and skills need to be practised to be learnt. Ebbinghaus in 1885 did the groundbreaking work, showing that most of what we learn fades quickly from short-term memory. To push learning from short to long-term memory, you need to practise, regularly and often.
The lesson we have to learn is that the ‘sheep-dip’ experience is wildly unproductive, unless there is follow-through and practice. If those in the learning game have one lesson to learn – this is it. The classroom and many e-learning courses completely ignore this principle, yet it is the formula for success in most types of learning.
Strange that it takes a high school dropout to show us how powerful a basic academic theory is in learning; a theory that seems to be studiously ignored by most practitioners.