Learning solutions are often measured in time. Forty five minutes of learning, five minute learning bursts, an eighteen month course, but how relevant is it? Is time a good indicator of learning?
The likelihood is not, that the figures relate more to procurement than effectiveness. Take a newspaper. We all interact with them in different ways. Some people start on the cover and work their way through, but don’t bother with the sports pages. Some people turn straight to the crossword. Others are just interested in the property pages, and some people are just interested in the property pages when they are thinking of buying a house. Our interaction with media is both effective and purpose driven.
We are experienced consumers of media: we become effective at interacting in the most effective ways. Sometimes we will read a whole article, but often the headline and first few paragraphs give us most of what we need. The ease of navigation and hyperlinking can cultivate browsing behaviours, where we graze our way through information. It’s very hard to put a time on this.
If i’m rushing for a train and trying to check times online, i’m a very focussed and efficient learner, but if i’m browsing the BBC site over a cup of tea, i’m unfocussed and likely to be drawn away to peripheral links. Our interaction with the online space is always influenced by our environment and the other pressures that come to bear on us.
Learning itself is usually measured by outcomes, be they the score in a test or a measurable change in behaviour or knowledge. Trying to structure learning to ensure it takes a specific amount of time, or trying to engineer engagement through gateways and multiple interactions can be counter productive. It can fail to engender the behaviours it seeks to, but rather makes us learn how to circumnavigate the controls. It’s far better to engineer in places where people have to make decisions and take actions based on them. Interactivity in itself is a poor indicator of engagement.
It’s useful to give indicative times that things may take, but we have to understand that taking this time does not indicate a better learning experience.