Avoid Passive Learning Moments with Friction

Ways to prevent these missteps in your reinforcement program.

Changing behavior is messy, but resolving that messiness can help learners retain information in their long-term memory. When we create a reinforcement course, we want learners to engage with the material. The Reinforcement Specialists at Mindmarker are avoiding reactions like head-nodding, eye-glazing, and the dreaded 'yeah, uh-huh' from learners.

Passive learning experiences—for example, a page-turner e-learning course where the information is just being channeled to the learner—can also flow smoothly right by the learner. If the learner is actively engaging with or interested in the material, then a passive information delivery system can still be an effective tool.

Knowing that not every learner will be actively engaged or highly interested, the development of every reinforcement course should create opportunities for interaction with the material to make a lesson more engaging and motivating for learners.

To avoid that smooth flow past or around learners, consider creating a little friction, something that requires learners to chew on the material. The most effective reinforcement courses feature a balance between a channeled flow program and friction to make it interesting.

In previous articles, we've mentioned ways to make your training stick or how to use the perfect flow.

Here are some ideas for ways to create some helpful friction in your reinforcement course:

  1. Don’t tell, show! - By telling, there’s absolutely no role for the learner to put anything together for themselves. In showing or inspiring, the learner has a chance to put stuff together themself and be active during their learning journey.
  2. Writing scenarios - Let the learner make connections themself (less is more). It’s likely they’ll remember more later. Don’t try to write a script.
  3. Encourage social friction - Use personal interaction. Each learner is going to bring their own perspective and experience to a discussion. Reinforcement is also meant to push the learner to have social friction.

We always ask Mindmarker's Reinforcement Specialists: “How much guidance?” A junior Reinforcement Specialist who's building a course is always anxious when giving people directions. They worry that they aren't clear enough and the learners will wind up hopelessly lost, wandering in circles, and cursing their very bad-directions-giving existence.

Sure, giving directions is an important part of a reinforcement course, but don’t spell out all the details—leave some friction!