RE: So now we are content engineers?

Subject: RE: So now we are content engineers?
From: "McLauchlan, Kevin" <Kevin -dot- McLauchlan -at- safenet-inc -dot- com>
To: "Janoff, Steven" <Steven -dot- Janoff -at- ga -dot- com>, Milan DavidoviÄ <milan -dot- lists -at- gmail -dot- com>, techwr-l <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 7 Nov 2013 12:22:26 -0500

A useful study would need tens of thousands of /v/i/c/t/i/m/s/ volunteers/subjects.

We're talking about learning. There are SO many factors that you'd need to control for.
Just a scratching-the-surface handful:

- educational level of the testees (is that degree from Harvard, or from Frank's Diploma and Puppy Mill?)
- reading/comprehension level of testees
- confidence level of testees (measured how, by the way...?)
- recent drug consumption by testees (legit, or the other kind)
- personal style of learning - visual? auditory? tactile/kinetic? other
- personal (or even generally applicable) best time of day for learning
- time of the month (and that applies to guys as well as to women)
- time of life - raise your hand if you learn well while having a hot flash... or in the first week after bringing the baby home (sleep? what's that?)
- have the temperature, humidity, atmospheric pressure, oxygen/CO2 levels in the room been normalized for all subjects
- recent consumption of food and drink by subjects... any pre-diabetics have a donut for lunch (are we testing blood glucose level at test time)?
- INTEREST! how do you judge, in a non-subjective way, the level of interest that each participant has in the subject matter being learned?
- IQ or other quotient as it might affect learning of the test subject-matter (here you get to insert any/all of the SAT subjects, any or all of the modes that are tested in various psychological/learning evaluations)
- physical health - this is sort of the expanded version of the hormone-related issues above... how well do you concentrate when your arthritis or a migraine is acting up?
- family or other life events - just got laid off? been to mother's funeral this month? spouse's? child's? In the middle of a divorce or custody battle? Got an appointment at John School or anger management class tonight? The appeal hearing to decide whether license will be revoked (driver license, license to practice testee's profession)...? Insurer just rejected the big disaster-damage claim... again?
- has the testee got an appointment at the local chapter of AA, after the test, or just got a frantic call from someone they're sponsoring?
- testee just sold house, just submitted conditional offer on new place, and just got rejected for mortgage?
- is testee conservative or liberal in how they interpret scenarios?
- is testee (like me) one who sees all twelve sides of any situation (including several the presenter never even thought of) and who reflexively second-guesses what it is the experimenter might want or be testing for "Yes, but what do they MEAN by that....?"
- gender or ethnic/"racial" bias of both the tester and the testee
- "white coat syndrome"
- visual acuity of the testee - struggling to read the questions or instructions subtracts from cognitive assets remaining for the test material
- aural/auditory acuity (is that a legit phrase?) of the testee - struggling to hear the questions or instructions subtracts from cognitive assets remaining for the test material
- perfume/chemical sensitivity of the testee, or of the tester
- the lighting in the room
- the lighting in the green room before the testing room
- new janitorial contractor uses different chemicals for cleaning the lab and testing rooms
- is there road construction, lack of parking, other irritants near the testing site, this week.... but wasn't present for last week's participants?
- testee has OCD?
- tester has OCD and testee is driven to distraction by people with OCD? "I LIKE my pencil at a jaunty angle... OK?!?"

Does the test protocol include screening for all those and a hundred more?
If not, are there enough participants that each of the above effects would be below the level of noise/statistical significance?
Who's your Sugar-Daddy who's funding this study of 94,000 participants?

-----Original Message-----
From: techwr-l-bounces+kevin -dot- mclauchlan=safenet-inc -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com [mailto:techwr-l-bounces+kevin -dot- mclauchlan=safenet-inc -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com] On Behalf Of Janoff, Steven
Sent: November-06-13 8:39 PM
To: Milan DavidoviÄ; techwr-l
Subject: RE: So now we are content engineers?

Primarily cognition and learning-based research. That might be more the province of usability or UX (or cognitive science), and in fact the research might already exist out there.

I'd like to see things move beyond what was done in the 80's and 90's. I'd like to see something that is sort of a next step after minimalism, if there is such a thing, and maybe an update on screen capture research, how effective if at all, what kinds, etc. (That's a little more pedestrian; but practical.) More research is probably also needed on the new media for consuming information, mainly smartphones and tablets. Maybe also ebooks but that's a lesser market. I mean, I spend most of my day consuming information from a 21-inch monitor.

But my personal area of interest is in Information Architecture, Information Design, and those sorts of things. Seems like a lot of the richest work was done in the late 80's and early to mid 90's and then just dropped off.

I would like to see studies that indicate what kinds of information design are effective in aiding the learning process. We had a recent thread where someone wanted to use a table layout for the steps of a procedure. I'd think a simple study could be devised where you take some basic information, present it in a table versus in a linear, down-the-page format, and see what happens. If 90% of the people learn effectively from the linear presentation and only 10% learn better from a table, assuming a good study, then that argues against using tables (maybe not for everything, but you'd have a beginning).

I realize different people learn differently, but there have got to be some common themes or else we're doing it wrong or right just by a shot in the dark.

I'm honestly not sure what our field is about anymore. It was very clear cut in the 90's. I know what my job demands, and my task of the moment, but in the longer-term picture, it's tough to get one's bearings. I don't necessarily mean that from a career standpoint but from a "you are here" standpoint.

Steve


On Wednesday, November 06, 2013 1:41 PM, Milan Davidovic

> What sort of research are you thinking of?
>
> --Milan DavidoviÄ

On Wed, Nov 6, 2013 at 4:33 PM, Janoff, Steven <Steven -dot- Janoff -at- ga -dot- com> wrote:
> PS - I wish more of the leading-edge thinkers in our field would spend more time doing more research studies as opposed to only opining. But that does take a lot of time, and there are bills to pay. I'm sure they all work, by the way. And probably harder than I do.



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References:
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Re: Best places to put topics when they're needed twice: From: Gene Kim-Eng
Re: Best places to put topics when they're needed twice: From: Editor in Chief
Re: Best places to put topics when they're needed twice: From: Gene Kim-Eng
Re: Best places to put topics when they're needed twice: From: Editor in Chief
Re: Best places to put topics when they're needed twice: From: Gene Kim-Eng
Re: Best places to put topics when they're needed twice: From: rebecca officer
Re: Best places to put topics when they're needed twice: From: Gene Kim-Eng
Re: Best places to put topics when they're needed twice: From: Kathleen MacDowell
So now we are content engineers?: From: Erika Yanovich
Re: So now we are content engineers?: From: Robert Lauriston
RE: So now we are content engineers?: From: Janoff, Steven
RE: So now we are content engineers?: From: Janoff, Steven
Re: So now we are content engineers?: From: Milan Davidović
RE: So now we are content engineers?: From: Janoff, Steven

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