Re: Using learning theory to build learning documents

Subject: Re: Using learning theory to build learning documents
From: Ned Bedinger <doc -at- edwordsmith -dot- com>
To: mlist -at- safenet-inc -dot- com
Date: Wed, 22 Nov 2006 13:17:43 -0800

mlist -at- safenet-inc -dot- com hollered "Geronimo!" and disappeared over the horizon. Later, he wrote:

Pro TechWriter [mailto:pro -dot- techwriter -at- gmail -dot- com] had the temerity to utter:

Anecdote time:

When my wife and I were parachuting instructors,

Thrill-seeking behavior as a key insight into what makes tech writers tick? I'd bet there are a few base jumpers among us, too. :-)

we had a class that was entirely from a theatrical/performing group.
They were an eclectic, if not eccentric bunch. One, though, was a little alarming.

Here we are, up front with our friendly-yet-authoritative manner, crisp delivery, plentiful diagrams and physical visual aids... and here's this bunch of rowdies joking and carrying on and... in the front row, a guy has sprawled across his seat, with his hand over his eyes and his head on his girl-friend's lap.

After a couple of snide remarks from instructor about this being life-and-death stuff, literally, and was everybody paying _close_ attention, the girl-friend catches on:

"Oh, oh - c'est correct. Il est auditif!"

I think I know what this is about--some people have a non-typical neurological setup that produces cross-talk among the senses whenever they try to concentrate on one of them. They compensate, enhancing the sense they want to tune into, by "gating" sensory input that they don't want at the time. The condition (as opposed to the learning style) isn't very well described in any literature I'm aware of, but is sometimes attributed to one or another disorder (Attention Deficit Disorder, e.g), or to mechanical damage (in this case, to the middle or inner ear or acoustic nerve). Charles Babbage, Victorian-era inventor of the difference engine, seemed to be a case of some sort of auditory processing condition later in life--he became unable to work in his house if there was a lot of noise out on the street. At one point he got in trouble with the law for assaulting street musicians outside his residence.

Her friend, she was saying, was primarily an auditory learner.

He did well when it came time for first jumps, so I guess it worked for him.

I can understand him closing his eyes and relaxing, to minimize other distractions, in order to concentrate on the instructor's voice. What I can't do is picture what went on in his head to integrate the incoming flow of words to later comprehension of physical realities.
One theory is that they're actually hyper-focusing. My best guess is that their learning is like meditation--you've heard of the athlete who concentrates by repeating a mantra (something like "See the ball, be the ball,...")? Perhaps the auditif is like the sportif, applying a meditative technique such that the instructional words are processed on some integrated mental level, similar to the way the sportif mentally and physically prepares to hit the ball by concentrating on the mantra. At any rate, your account suggests that your auditif student did acquire an appropriate mental model of reality for the jump, so he probably wasn't just napping after a late night, eh?

But Ye gods and goddesses, his learning style would be cumbersome if he'd chosen to be a tech writer instead of an actor!
Anyway, just my ruminations. YMMV.

Ned Bedinger
doc -at- edwordsmith -dot- com

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RE: Using learning theory to build learning documents: From: mlist

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