Evidence-Informed Learning Design Book Summary - Evidence-Informed Learning Design Book explained in key points
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Evidence-Informed Learning Design summary

Mirjam Neelen & Paul A. Kirschner

Creating Training to Improve Performance

4.2 (125 ratings)
19 mins

Brief summary

Evidence-Informed Learning Design by Mirjam Neelen and Paul A. Kirschner is a practical guidebook on how to use scientific evidence to design and implement effective learning experiences that enable learners to achieve their full potential.

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    Evidence-Informed Learning Design
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    Embracing an evidence-based approach and avoiding myths are key to designing learning experiences.

    Before we dive into actionable techniques however, let’s begin with taking a look at how to judge sources when it comes to learning. After all, it’s likely this blink is not going to be the last material on learning experience design you’ll encounter. Okay. Let’s dig in.

    Say you’re tasked with creating a new learning design experience for your team. The goal is to prepare them for a new project which involves a lot of new information. You start coming up with ideas, but eventually hit a roadblock – you need some inspiration. Googling yields countless ideas, and most seem like they could provide useful inspiration for you to continue.

    But some sources are better than others. When picking out studies or articles on learning, you need to adopt a prejudiced approach. Because not all materials are created equally. 

    So, what should you do? It’s all about adopting an evidence-based approach when courting materials. The first part of doing this involves avoiding the huge amount of myths surrounding learning. And as we’ll see shortly, there are a number of long-held assumptions about learning that are demonstrably false.

    Take the “learning styles” myth, for example. It’s been around for a long time and is still widely believed to be true, no matter what the science says. The myth is, of course, that different people learn in different ways – some prefer reading, and others prefer listening to podcasts or watching videos. In the context of learning experience design, this myth often leads educators to providing parallel materials for different groups. This leads to spiraling costs for such learning experiences.

    The learning styles myth is a great example of something that feels intuitively right while being completely wrong. So, if you’re considering using something “intuitively” right similar to learning styles, it’s best to take a moment to go beyond your intuition – and analyze your thinking process. In the case of learning styles, you might realize that what people want isn’t always good for them. Sure, most of us want to eat sugary or fatty food, but that doesn’t mean it’s good for us. It’s the same with learning styles. And multiple studies have shown that it either has no effect or even negative effects on learning outcomes.

    Learning how to identify myths will put you on the right track to adopting an evidence-based approach for designing learning experiences. But it’s only one side of the coin. The other is being able to distinguish great learning materials from average ones.

    Doing so doesn’t mean spending hours trawling through the sources of academic articles. It’s often the case that the language of what you’re reading will give you a pretty good idea. Let’s say you discover an article that claims to have discovered an effective new method to increase learning retention. The first thing you should do is check if it relies too much on vague or emotional language, both of which are red flags for potentially shoddy information. Also be wary if the author is excessively hyping up this new learning method before actually getting to explaining the method itself. The best resources rely on the power of their arguments without needing extra hype.

    If the author’s language is sound and there’s no obvious hype, you can still do a bit of digging. For example, you can check the quality of the individual sources the article references. Are the sources published, preferably in peer-reviewed journals? Do the publishers of the journals have any obvious links to particular philosophies or products? These sorts of indicators will give you a solid idea whether the article is legit or not. If it passes these quick litmus tests, then the article’s findings are ready to be implemented into the next learning experience you’re designing.  

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    What is Evidence-Informed Learning Design about?

    Evidence-Informed Learning Design (2020) takes stock of where learning and development in the workplace is today. While many learning myths are still encountered in contemporary workplace learning, there’re effective ways for learning professionals to identify them – and stamp them out. Once this is done, there are a number of fantastic techniques learning professionals can utilize to help assist employee learning.

    Evidence-Informed Learning Design Review

    Evidence-Informed Learning Design (2021) is a must-read for anyone interested in designing effective learning experiences. Here's why this book stands out:

    • Packed with evidence-based strategies, it provides practical insights into designing learning experiences that are grounded in research and proven to be effective.
    • By bridging theory and practice, the book offers actionable guidance for educators and instructional designers, ensuring the implementation of evidence-informed practices.
    • With its engaging case studies and examples, the book brings the subject to life, making it an enjoyable read that sparks creativity and enhances learning design skills.

    Who should read Evidence-Informed Learning Design?

    • learning professionals looking to up their game
    • employees looking to get ahead with their professional knowledge
    • students of any persuasion hoping to discover effective learning strategies

    About the Author

    Mirjam Neelen is the Head of Global Learning Design and Learning Sciences in Novartis. She’s worked in various learning design roles over the last 15 years, including stints at Accenture, Google, and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

    Paul A. Kirschner is Emeritus Professor of Educational Psychology at the Open University of the Netherlands. He can often be found doing speaking engagements around the world, and his research has been widely published.

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    Evidence-Informed Learning Design FAQs 

    What is the main message of Evidence-Informed Learning Design?

    The main message of Evidence-Informed Learning Design is the importance of using research-based evidence to inform learning design decisions.

    How long does it take to read Evidence-Informed Learning Design?

    The estimated reading time for Evidence-Informed Learning Design is several hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Evidence-Informed Learning Design a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Evidence-Informed Learning Design is worth reading as it provides valuable insights on using evidence to design effective learning experiences.

    Who is the author of Evidence-Informed Learning Design?

    Mirjam Neelen & Paul A. Kirschner

    What to read after Evidence-Informed Learning Design?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Evidence-Informed Learning Design, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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