Richard Mayer has over 500 publications to his name and does something extraordinary. He tells us how to design online learning. What makes his work so brilliant, and useful, is that some of his findings are counterintuitive. Take this brilliant example.
First or third person?
When showing a series of graphics, photographs, animations or on video, should you show procedures from the first (learner) or third (teacher’s) perspective?
You should show from the first person perspective to achieve higher retention and transfer. This is not surprising, when you think about what you are trying to achieve – cognitive change in the learner’s brain. First person is exactly how the actions will be performed in real life, so that viewpoint is more congruent with the eventual outcome.
Yet most photographers, animators, graphic artists and video Directors’ are likely to create or shoot a third person perspective. There is the additional advantage in some tasks of a more open, less occluded view, as the hands and fingers are not covering the action. It may be trickier to shoot, as the instructor lies between the camera and the action, but it is right.
VR is first person
This finding also lends weight to the use of first-person VR and AR in learning, where the learner is the viewer/director. VR gives the added benefits of total immersion, full attention, emotional impact, context and actual doing, which all add up to increased retention and transfer.
Online design needs to pay more attention to findings such as this. Mayer has been publishing this stuff for decades, yet many are unaware of his work, which shows time and time again, that 'less is more'. Yet online learning design seems to have drifted towards ‘more is more’. For hundreds of other tips on online learning design from Mayer and other researched sources click here.