“The first think I learned about online training was that it was boring”. So says Tomothy Freriks, CEO of TelSim Software in an article on the Learning Technologies web site in his post entitled “Using Avatars – a Developer’s Perspective”.
The title and the first sentence grabbed my attention – being that these statements are aligned to my own motivations for using games and simulations in learning – but I have got to question the effectiveness ‘leap’ of having a simplistic little waving man slide across an otherwise unchanged HTML page (e.g. boring text and static images).
Freriks’s article makes several assertions that resonate with my own experience but I just do not get the NOAH thing. A talking pseudo facilitator/mentor character is a very familiar mechanic (most of our immersive simulations use the ‘mentor characters’). What I just don’t believe is that by simply adding a crudely animated flat cartoon character – who talks at you– learners are suddenly engaged and chomping at the bit to read page after page of, say, financial compliance theory. It is hardly transforming a passive, reception model of information dissemination into a rip-roaring, roller coaster of an experience….is it?
Frerik quotes a case study where two test groups used the same courseware and where the ‘non-NOAH’ group remembered 20% and the ‘NOAH-enhanced’ group remembered 60% of what they were supposed to. I don’t dispute that. If you turn devilishly dull content into ever-so-slightly-less dull courseware then you should see a brief gain if all you are measuring is the learner’s ability to recall information. How long did that effect last for though? 5 minutes? An hour? Did the group that ‘benefited’ from the ‘avatar’ acquire deep levels of subject mastery as a result? Did they demonstrate high levels of learning transfer from the course to the workplace? I seriously doubt it.
As ever I am ready to be proved wrong – hey, it wouldn’t be the first time! Let me know how adding a ‘NOAH’ transformed your eLearning programmes across your enterprise….please!
Read the article at http://www.trainingindustry.com/learning-technologies/articles/using-avatars.aspx (registration required – FREE)