Working as an Educational Technologist based in a central unit I am often asked to be involved in a variety of projects, not just for academic departments or faculties but also other professional service departments.
In most cases there tends to be a different approach to these projects, they are often in the area of informative knowledge sharing or support and guidance.
Certainly in most cases a different approach is required to keep students interest constant and enabling them to absorb the information generally within a first viewing or a one off active participation process, this is generally because unlike online academic activities students tend not to revisit non-academic informative or instructional packages.
This particular project, the “Loan Shark” was lead by our Students Services department hoping to develop a package that would help students understand the dangers and pitfalls of borrowing money from various lenders and individuals.
Being an avid fan of Sir Ken Robinson and his approaches to education I was very much aware of the animations that sometimes accompany his talks. This process is interesting in its own right and one I firmly agree with in regards to exploiting our learning senses. Sensory stimulation on as many levels as possible at the same time reinforces the knowledge intake. Hearing the important phrases or key words supported by a visual helps us retain information.
I also believe that short bursts of learning attacking as many senses as possible is more effective than the old approach of long drawn out lectures. In a strange way I relate it to the now ‘High Intensity Training’ that is highly influencing our physical exercise programs in a big way, the 3 minutes a week exercise that was highlighted by the medical journalist Dr Michael Mosley.
It was with this methodology in mind that I created the following ‘Loan Shark’ visual artefact.
The article below the video from Oxford Brookes University highlights why this approach, like that used in the RSA animate are becoming more popular.
Sensory Stimulation Theory
Traditional sensory stimulation theory has as its basic premise that effective learning occurs when the senses are stimulated (Laird, 1985). Laird quotes research that found that the vast majority of knowledge held by adults (75%) is learned through seeing. Hearing is the next most effective (about 13%) and the other senses - touch, smell and taste account for 12% of what we know. By stimulating the senses, especially the visual sense, learning can be enhanced. However, this theory says that if multi-senses are stimulated, greater learning takes place. Stimulation through the senses is achieved through a greater variety of colours, volume levels, strong statements, facts presented visually, use of a variety of techniques and media.
Lee Dunn, 2000
Chris O'Reilly is an Educational Technologist and freelance advisor for online educational learning material and development.