- A penny dropped from the top of the Empire State Building can kill a pedestrian below.
- Innuits have one hundred words for snow.
- Dropping Mentos brand mints into soda causes an explosive reaction.
- Presenting kinesthetic learners with more models to touch and manipulate during their studies will help them to perform better on assessments.
Professional mythbusters have proven one of the statements above to be true – and gloriously so. The other statements, however, require a greater amount of nuance. Nevertheless, these statements are repeated time and again with no qualifications. Worse yet, some of these unqualified statements are used to drive policy decisions that affect our daily lives. Thankfully, professional mythbusters like Clark Quinn are around to help us separate fact from partial or complete fiction (at least in eLearning).
Quinn has been studying the interaction between technology and learning for the past four decades. Ahead of his generation in terms of eLearning, Quinn graduated from UC San Diego with a self-designed major in Computer-Based Education before Educational Technology programs were common. He has been innovating around technology and learning ever since. During this time he has been a researcher, a game developer, a manager or director in several eLearning settings, a university lecturer, and the executive director of his own eLearning consulting company.
In his new book Millennials, Goldfish, & Other Training Misconceptions: Debunking Learning Myths and Superstitions, Quinn guides the reader through a myriad of instructional folklore in order to let instructors make decisions on the basis of sound research. He defines learning myths as “beliefs that are prevalent despite repeated evidence that they’re wrong” (p. 2) One example of the learning myths Quinn addresses is that modern learners’ attention spans are similar to that of goldfish. While this idea may feel at least truth-y – especially with all these darn Millennials on their darn smartphones taking selfies – its origin stems from an advertising piece based on a web page quoting a study on internet browser usage (p. 28). Hardly damning evidence of societal attention decay in learners. Quinn also covers “learning superstitions” that, although not necessarily false, do “lead to bad learning design” and “learning misconceptions” that can cause contention and confusion between instructors (p.3).
To hear more about the myths, superstitions, and misconceptions that are floating out there and, more importantly, what to do about them, click below for access to the recorded webinar.