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!
Avnish Srivastava says
1. Start with the basics: When trying to understand a topic, start with the basics. Avoid diving into the more advanced or technical aspects until you have a good understanding of the fundamentals. This will help you to build a solid foundation of knowledge and avoid getting lost in the hype.
2. Research multiple sources: Don’t rely on a single source of information. Instead, research from multiple sources such as reputable publications, books, or academic journals. This will help you to get a well-rounded view of the topic and reduce the risk of getting caught up in the hype.
3. Ask questions: Ask questions and seek clarification when needed. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from experts or those who have more experience in the topic. This will help you to fill in any knowledge gaps and ensure that you have a more accurate understanding of the topic.
4. Stay objective: Try to stay objective and avoid getting caught up in the hype. Be critical of the information you receive, and always question its accuracy and relevance.
5. Practice critical thinking: Develop your critical thinking skills. This will help you to evaluate information more effectively and make better decisions. Critical thinking involves analyzing information, identifying biases, and considering alternative perspectives.
Avnish, this is a really useful set of steps people should take to avoid misconceptions, superstitions, and myths. However, if they have them, what can you do? You remind me that I did, once, talk about how to address myths (https://www.td.org/insights/how-to-challenge-learning-myths). However, in this case I’m wondering how do we raise awareness at scale?
Charlie Anderson says
Thanks Clark for another great Learnlet. I have been working my way through this book and have recommended it to several colleges. The key to me for the at scale is to build allies in various regions, teams and business units at all levels. Then they can advocate and spread the word from experience rather than from me as an ‘expert’ /outsider lens.
Charlie, thanks, very helpful. We do try to reach out to groups, and continue to spread the word. Much appreciated.