Recently, I saw a claim that was, well, a tad extreme. Worse, I think it was wrong, and possibly harmful. Thus, I feel it’s right to address it, to avoid misleading malarkey.
So, here’s the claim that riled me up:
Short-form edutainment is the most effective teaching method for both children and adults. TikTok and YouTube shorts will ultimately replace high schools and universities. Employment sector will phase out LMS systems and replaced with AI-powered compliance tools. If you are considering instructional design as a career, you may want to become a YouTuber or TikToker instead.
If you’ve tuned in at all, you’ll know that I’m a fan of engagement, properly construed. Heck, it’s the topic of my most recent book! So, talking about the value of engagement in learning is all to the good. However…
…this claim goes over the top. Most notably, there’s the claim that edutainment is the most effective teaching method. If only! That puts me off, because teaching should yield a learning outcome, and just watching video shorts won’t do that (under most circumstances). Not surprisingly, I asked for research.
The author pointed to a study where mice genetically low on dopamine learned better when given dopamine. Yes, but the study had the mice do more than just watch videos, they performed tasks! I tried to go deeper, saying that engagement may be desirable, but it’s not sufficient. Without practice, watching entertaining and informative material (e.g. edutainment) isn’t a path to learning outcomes.
The conversation was derailed by my comment that edutainment had gotten a bad name from games. In the 80s, in an industry I was in, this was the case! I was accused of having a ‘gamification’ mindset! (Ahem.) I tried steering the conversation back to the point it’s not about gamification, it’s about engagement combined with practice.
Interestingly, there was an almost parallel conversation about how engagement wasn’t the same as learning (which I pointed to in the exchange). The general take is that engagement is desirable but insufficient. Yes! Yet here we see the claim that engagement is all we need!
I believe in engagement for learning. I just don’t believe that by itself it will lead to learning. Learning science supports both the value of engagement, and the necessity of practice and feedback. That’s all. But claims like the above are misleading malarkey. It may be we’re talking an outrageous marketing claim (infamy is better than not being known at all?), but when it misleads, it’s a problem. Am I missing something?