Several books ago, I was asked to to talk about myths in our industry. I ended up addressing myths, superstitions, and misconceptions. While the myths persist, the misconceptions propagate, aided by marketing hype. They may not be as damaging, but they also are a money-sink, and contribute to the lack of our industry making progress. How do we address them?
The distinctions I make for the 3 categories are, I think, pretty clear. Myths are beliefs that folks will willingly proclaim, but are contrary to research. This includes learning styles, attention span of a goldfish, millennials/generations, and more (references in this PDF, if you care). Superstitions are beliefs that don’t get explicit support, but manifest in the work we do. For example, that new information will lead to behavior change. We may not even be aware of the problems with these! The last category is misconceptions. They’re nuanced, and there are times when they make sense, and times they don’t.
The problem with the latter category is that folks will eagerly adopt, or avoid, these topics without understanding the nuances. They may miss opportunities to leverage the benefits, or perhaps more worrying, they’ll spend on an incompletely-understood premise. In the book, I covered 16 of them:
7 – 38 – 55
Humor in Learning
The Experience API
Learning Management Systems
On reflection, I might move ‘unlearning’ to myths, but I’d certainly add to this list. Concepts like immersive learning, workflow learning, and Learning Experience Platforms (LXPs) are some that are touted without clarity. As a consequence, people can be spending money without necessarily achieving any real outputs. To be clear, there are real value in these concepts, just not in all conceptions thereof. The labels themselves can be misleading!
In several of my roles, I’m working to address these, but the open question is “how?” How can we illuminate the necessary understanding in ways that penetrate the hype? I truly do not know. I’ve written here and spoken and written elsewhere on previous concepts, to little impact (microlearning continues to be touted without clarity, for instance). At this point, I’m open to suggestions. Perhaps, like with myths, it’s just persistent messaging and ongoing education. However, not being known for my patience (a flaw in my character ;), I’d welcome any other ideas!