From DSC:
My dad sent me this in an email — I’ll include it here as a graphic to insure that I get the layout correct:




Another excerpt from the email:

If you can raed this, you have a sgtrane mnid, too.

Can you raed this? Olny 55 plepoe out of 100 can. I cdnuolt blveiee that I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd what I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno’t mtaetr in what oerdr the ltteres in a word are, the olny iproamtnt tihng is that the frsit and last ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can still raed it whotuit a pboerlm. This is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the word as a wlohe. Azanmig huh? Yaeh and I awlyas tghuhot slpeling was ipmorantt!


From DSC:
What amazed me about this was in the meta cognitive processes of my mind I sensed my mind struggling to make sense of the first couple words…but then, as I moved forward, my mind went back and filled in the gaps and moved forward with understanding what the words were saying.  Then it occurred to me how amazing the human mind is — glory to God!  Humans can pick up patterns much quicker than computers and algorithms. Not that algorithms can’t be tweaked over time, but humans are key in getting them headed in the right direction in the first place!

P.S. I also saw this type of thing at Jimmy Johns; but that’s even one step further outside the academic realm than even an email from someone’s dad!  But thanks Dad if you are reading this!  I found it to be an amazing exercise.   🙂



From DSC:
The other day, I mentioned how important it will be for institutions of higher education to increase the priority of experimentation. But, for a variety of reasons, I believe this is true for the K-12 world as well. Especially with the kindergarten/early elementary classroom in mind, I created the graphic below. Clicking on it will give you another example of the kind of experimentation that I’m talking about — whether that be in K-12 or in higher ed.




From DSC:
I’m trying to address the students that are more easily distracted and, due to how their minds process information, have a harder time focusing on the task at hand.  In fact, at times, all of the external stimuli can be overwhelming. How can we provide a learning environment that’s more under the students’ control? i.e. How can we provide “volume knobs” on their auditory and visual channels?

Along these lines, I’m told that some theaters have sensory-friendly film showings — i.e. with different settings for the lights and sound than is typically offered.

Also see — with thanks going out to Ori Inbar (@comogard) for these:


A relevant addendum on 1/10/12:



The principles of eLearning -- cognitive theory of multimedia design - by Allen Partridge


A list of Allen Partridge’s on-demand/online-based seminars (free, requires free ID at Adobe):

1: Making Effective Adobe Captivate eLearning Modules
… a foundation in multimedia design concepts for eLearning, and help you understand the reasons / rationale behind many of the eLearning strategies you see implemented today.

2: Balancing cognitive load in eLearning content with Adobe Captivate 5
…session focuses on the Multimedia eLearning Design Principle known as Personalization, which suggests that people learn more effectively when conversational styles and or learning agents are used to enhance the social aspects of the experience.

3: Applying Personalization to eLearning with Adobe Captivate 5
…session focuses on the Multimedia eLearning Design Principle known as Personalization, which suggests that people learn more effectively when conversational styles and or learning agents are used to enhance the social aspects of the experience.

4: Creating effective eLearning Multimedia with Adobe Captivate 5
…session will center on the Multimedia Principle (the importance of combining images & text) of eLearning Design.

5: Making Effective Adobe Captivate eLearning Modules Part 5: Contiguity
…the Contiguity Principle, which indicates that the spatial relationship (proximity) of symbols (like text) to analogous images (things that look like the subject of the learning) is significant, and plays a key role in how effectively we learn.

6: Making Effective Adobe Captivate eLearning Modules Part 6: Redundancy
…focuses on the Multimedia eLearning Design Principle known as Redundancy, which suggests that presenting symbols via both text and aural channels is less effective than presenting via only one.

7: Making Effective Adobe Captivate eLearning Modules Part 7 : Coherence
…focuses on the Multimedia eLearning Design Principle known as Coherence, which suggests that off topic ancillary material can distract from learning. This theory stands in opposition to arousal theory, providing research based evidence that when stimulating animation or any form of non-relevant information is provided, it can actually decrease the efficacy of the instruction.

8: Making Effective Adobe Captivate eLearning Modules Part 8: Segmenting
...the Multimedia eLearning Design Principle known as the Segmenting Principle, which suggests that authors of eLearning content should break content up into small pieces or chunks in order to help avoid cognitive overload for the learners.

9: Making Effective Adobe Captivate eLearning Modules Part 9: Pre-Training
The session focuses on the Multimedia eLearning Design Principle known as pre-training, which suggests that elearning content authors should first build up basic information about essential elements which are pre-requisites to understanding the larger concepts.

10: Making Effective Adobe Captivate eLearning Modules Part 10: Individual Differences
…the Individual Differences Principle, which suggests that design effects are stronger for low-knowledge learners than for high knowledge learners, and for high-spatial learners rather than for low-spatial learners.

More resources re: Adobe Captivate

Using Twitter? @AdobeElearning OR HASHTAG: #AdobeCaptivate
Using YouTube?
On Adobe TV:
Captivate Blog:


Also see:

Romans 12:2

Romans 12:2

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

From DSC:
I’m a broken person. As such, I don’t mean to post the piece of scripture above to be pointing figures at anyone or to be telling someone how to live and what to think.  But my experience has been that God’s ways are often 180 degrees opposite from the ways of the world.  So, often times, we need to be retrained in our thinking and in regards to our perspectives and assumptions (whether they involve faith-based items or not).  Sometimes, the old tapes and messages need to be thrown away. That’s why I posted this item.

I also post this because I believe God knows how He made each one of us and which abilities, gifts, passions, talents He gave to each of us.  I view my job as to identify the passions and gifts He gave to me and then go to work on developing them — while striving to use them in serving others.  A fulfilling, WIN-WIN situation indeed.

Excerpt from Digital Dilemmas: The Data Deluge, Attention Deficits and The Future of Books

Given people are creating and receiving an exponentially growing amount of information per day and time is not expanding, author Adrian Ott on Fast Company suggests we are in an “attention arms race.” (emphasis DSC)  Despite the massive information processing power of the human brain, the senior executives we work with confirm this challenge.  Even with faster computers and an ever-expanding array of mobile devices to receive and process information anytime, anywhere, people struggle to keep up. Often we try to multitask, but according to McKinsey on information overload, multitasking is not productive or creative.

From DSC:
This is why I think it is getting — and will continue to get — harder to get someone’s attention (i.e. getting through what I call “the gate”);
and if I can’t get through the gate, I can’t make it into someone’s short-term or working memory. If that’s the case, I have zero chance of getting into their long-term memory (i.e. zero return on investment.)

This is not only true for students, but I believe that it’s true for everyone.  For example, how many human billboards (waiving some type of signage or wearing some type of clothing/costume) have you seen recently? I see 1-2 a day. I created the graphic last summer to illustrate this potential issue:

If attention can be visualized as a it getting harder to get through the gate?


 Some of my proposed solutions to this issue include:

  • Help students identify and tap into their passions — writing, video editing, photography, singing, acting, acting as a copyright expert, subject matter researcher, etc.
  • Use digital storytelling
  • Use educational technologies that engage (iPads, interactive whiteboards, Garageband, etc.)
  • Keep everything brief — chunk content up into bite-sized pieces
  • Offer students a choice of assignments, media and let them select what they prefer to work with
  • Offer content feeds that are engaging in order to keep content constantly streaming into a student’s short-term memory; over time, the main points make their way into the student’s long-term memory





LiveScribe's new connections -- sharp!


From DSC:
Taking this concept into learning spaces…I would like to see this type of thing in all Smart Classrooms; for example:


Also see:

Long-term memory: A user’s guide — from by Connie Malamed


Metacognition: A Literature Review Research Report — from Pearson by Emily Lai, April 2011


Metacognition is defined most simply as “thinking about thinking.” Metacognition consists of two components: knowledge and regulation. Metacognitive knowledge includes knowledge about oneself as a learner and the factors that might impact performance, knowledge about strategies, and knowledge about when and why to use strategies. Metacognitive regulation is the monitoring of one’s cognition and includes planning activities, awareness of comprehension and task performance, and evaluation of the efficacy of monitoring processes and strategies. Recent research suggests that young children are capable of rudimentary forms of metacognitive thought, particularly after the age of 3. Although individual developmental models vary, most postulate massive improvements in metacognition during the first 6 years of life. Metacognition also improves with appropriate instruction, with empirical evidence supporting the notion that students can be taught to reflect on their own thinking. Assessment of metacognition is challenging for a number of reasons: (a) metacognition is a complex construct; (b) it is not directly observable; (c) it may be confounded with both verbal ability and working memory capacity; and (d) existing measures tend to be narrow in focus and decontextualized from in-school learning. Recommendations for teaching and assessing metacognition are made.

Keywords: metacognition, self-regulated learning



From DSC:
Also see Chapter 12 of:

  • Ormrod, J. E. (2008). Human learning (5th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson. ISBN 9780132327497.

…which has excellent further resources, additional literature reviews, learning strategies.

Why Angry Birds is so successful and popular: A cognitive teardown of the user experience — from Pulse > UX by Charles L. Mauro


Simple yet engaging interaction concept: This seems an obvious point, but few realize that a simple interaction model need not be, and rarely is, procedurally simple. Simplification means once users have a relatively brief period of experience with the software, their mental model of how the interface behaves is well formed and fully embedded. This is known technically as schema formation. In truly great user interfaces, this critical bit of skill acquisition takes place during a specific use cycle known as the First User Experience or FUE. When users are able to construct a robust schema quickly, they routinely rate the user interface as “simple”. However, simple does not equal engaging. It is possible to create a user interface solution that is initially perceived by users as simple. However, the challenge is to create a desire by users to continue interaction with a system over time, what we call user “engagement”.

What makes a user interface engaging is adding more detail to the user’s mental model at just the right time. Angry Birds’ simple interaction model is easy to learn because it allows the user to quickly develop a mental model of the game’s interaction methodology, core strategy and scoring processes. It is engaging, in fact addictive, due to the carefully scripted expansion of the user’s mental model of the strategy component and incremental increases in problem/solution methodology. These little birds are packed with clever behaviors that expand the user’s mental model at just the point when game-level complexity is increased. The process of creating simple, engaging interaction models turns out to be exceedingly complex. Most groups developing software today think expansion of the user’s mental model is for the birds. Not necessarily so.

Other key items discussed:

  • Simple yet engaging interaction concept
  • Cleverly managed response time
  • Short-term memory management
  • Mystery
  • How things sound
  • How things look
  • Measuring that which some say cannot be measured


From DSC:
What Apple is able to do with many of their hardware and software products, what Charles describes here with Angry Birds, what Steelcase did with their Media:Scape product’s puck — and other examples — point out that creating something that is “easy” is actually quite hard.


A $55 million atlas of the human brain

A $55 million atlas of the human brain — from by Elizabeth Armstrong Moore


This thin section of brain has been treated with a pink neuropathological stain
to show fine anatomic detail. Credit: Allen Institute for Brain Science.


…so it comes as little surprise that the Seattle-based Allen Institute for Brain Science announced this week a world first: a highly detailed guide to both the anatomy and the genes of the human brain that includes 1,000 anatomical landmarks backed by 100 million data points measuring the strength of gene activity at each landmark. The cost of its creation? $55 million.


What is cognitive load? — from by Connie Malamed




What causes too much demand on working memory? One cause comes from an abundance of novel information. More information than the person can process. But high cognitive load is also strongly influenced by the number of elements in working memory that interact with each other. Often, complex learning is based on interacting elements that must be processed simultaneously. For example, learning to drive involves understanding how several elements simultaneously interact, such as considering the pressure required to brake, the amount to turn the steering wheel and making adjustments for weather conditions and traffic.


Working memory is vulnerable to overload…

Quote/excerpt from Sims (2008) paper entitled, “Rethinking (e)learning: A manifesto for connected generations”:

Advances in theories of human memory parallel, and perhaps depend on, advances in technology… The information processing approach has been an important source of models and ideas, but the fate of its predecessors should serve to keep us humble concerning its eventual success… Unless today’s technology has somehow reached its ultimate development, and we can be certain it has not, then we have not reached the ultimate metaphor for the human mind either. (Roediger, 1980, p. 244 as cited in Sims, 2008)

Roediger’s remarks remind us that, not only are we in a constant state of change and development, but also that there are inherent risks in arguing that we know what there is to know about teaching, learning, and e-learning. Therefore, without undermining the importance of understanding the dynamics of human learning, this article adopts the position that it is untimely to let the e of e-learning disappear, because without that e we might lose sight of the value digital technology provides, especially through social networks, to emergent forms of learning and knowledge construction.

Emergent forms of learning cannot easily be addressed by current instructional design methodologies (Kays & Francis, 2004), which are often teacher-centered. New models and strategies embracing the roles and skills of the teacher, the learner, and the design team are required to address such developments (Sims & Koszalka, 2008). Recent reports by Oblinger (2004), Irlbeck, Kays, Jones, and Sims (2006), and Siemens (2007) posit that these emergent technologies and interactions have opened doorways to new ways of learning and that these deserve new models of thinking about the very essence of the teaching and learning dynamic. While this article accepts that e is becoming more mainstream and part of the infrastructure of developed nations, the real question is whether the models we use to create learning environments and measure outcomes retain their relevance in a generation in which technology is the medium of communication for many.


Sims, R. (2008). Rethinking (e)learning: a manifesto for connected generations. Distance Education (29) 2. August 2008, 153–164.

The facts on higher order thinking — from Faculty Focus by Maryellen Weimer, PhD

.Faculty Focus


I just read a study that pretty much blew my socks off. An article highlighting the details will appear in the March issue of The Teaching Professor. I’ll give you the nutshell version here. The researchers were interested in finding out if there was empirical evidence to support the frequent criticism that introductory courses are fact filled with little content that challenges higher order thinking. Beyond anecdotal evidence, this research team didn’t find much empirical documentation so, being biologists, they decided to look at introductory-level biology courses.

Encouraging effective note-taking in your classes— from Profhacker by Nels Highberg

From DSC:
Ormrod (2008, p. 361) also mentions note taking as an effective learning and study strategy (along with meaningful learning and elaboration, organization, summarizing, comprehension monitoring, mnemonics, identifying important information):

[Note taking] facilitates encoding of materials: By writing information and looking at it on paper, students are likely to encode it both verbally and visually. As evidence of the encoding function of note taking, students remember more when they take notes even if they have no opportunity to review the notes (Howe, 1970, Weinstein & mayer, 1986). In addition, notes serve as a form of concrete external storage for information presented in class.

Ormrod, J. E. (2008). Human learning (5th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson. ISBN 9780132327497.

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