Think back to your days in school. Remember those homework assignments you used to get where you would get a series of questions and then have to look up the answers in your book? If you were lucky (or knowledgeable on the subject) and you knew the answers, you could just answer them without looking them up. By having that knowledge, you could show it off and get done pretty quickly – but the book was there for you if you needed it. If the questions were well put together and broad-based, this open book learning approach was a solid introduction to the assigned topic(s). Now hopefully that was not the only way your teacher had you cover that content. Maybe there was a review in class, or a quiz the next day, or an activity to complete based on the same content. (Remember my post on the spacing effect last month?)
“That’s great,” you say to me, “But what does this have to do with corporate learning?” With the Academy activity (note the education-leaning name) launched last month, you can more effectively introduce concepts to your learners by assigning them these open book learning questions. Think about how we typically introduce concepts to learners. The information and feedback travels only one way – from instructor to learner, from document to learner, from eLearning course to learner, from video to learner. We don’t know if they’re understanding the concepts until we get to assessment. Even then, they may understand at the point of assessment, but start to forget shortly thereafter.
With the Academy activity, you assign your learners a series of “open book” questions covering a given topic or set of topics. If they know the answer, they can simply choose the right one. If not, one click takes them to the Knowledge Navigator reference tool to look it up. More importantly, Academy will present questions dynamically to ensure that all topics are covered and that each learner demonstrates competency with each. They’ll have to answer at least 3 questions correctly for each item, and once they’ve done that they won’t be asked about it again. There are even simple views to visualize progress and demonstrate knowledge:
Users will not complete their entire training plan in a single game play, so they won’t be able to guess their way to a passing score. They will have to come back and truly demonstrate mastery of the content. Revisiting Academy means repeated exposure to the content, which we know is beneficial.
Don’t just take our word for it, though. Take a look at the research here that shows the most effective learning includes taking practice tests (using an open book learning approach) and spreading out instruction over time, as Academy (and the mLevel platform) encourages.
Let’s issue a challenge to all the mLevel mission builders out there – get an Academy activity built and launched! Assign those open book learning questions, make sure they cover off all the content, and then have them show you they know it – through a Fast Lane game and/or a Path Finder scenario.