Bells and whistles do not equal interactive learning

Most of us are familiar with versions of the Learning Pyramid developed by the National Training Laboratories. You can see an example of it at The key message is – the more we participate in the learning, the more we retain.

You will notice that ‘audio-visual’ is listed as a passive teaching method – it does not, on its own, require participation by the learner. In online learning, we often see the inclusion of YouTube videos and Flash animations or movies. These bells and whistles can make the experience more entertaining, but do they contribute to the learning and the retention of that learning? In many cases, I don’t think so.

Nick Van Dam prepared a version of the Learning Pyramid for the context of e-learning – the Online Learning Continuum. He associates the use of audio and video with a higher degree of retention. To achieve this, however, he also associates it with a higher level of instructional design.

To gain benefit from the bells and whistles, such as audio, video and Flash, the learning needs to be supported by sound instructional design that requires the learner to participate, think, discuss or practice.

To develop online learning, ensure you have an instructional designer in your project team. Instructional designers, like the team at Practical Learning Solutions, can customise your content to take advantage of the bells and whistles, or design low budget, effective learning without them.

– Bronte

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One Response to “Bells and whistles do not equal interactive learning”
  1. It is first time when I am reading about “Learning Pyramid”. Can you please provide a little information about it?