Multitasking: The Brain Seeks Novelty

This is your brain on Twitter/facebook/email/iPhone/TV/crack cocaine. Very simple and what should be an obvious message for site designers in online learning: never show exactly the same page twice. In learning we move from one novelty to the next – that’s part of what makes it such fun. One problem with a typical coursel site that shows a static content hierarchy (rather a lot of LMS – based courses) is that the jump-off page tends to vary little. In a program I used to run I insisted that the entry point for every course was the discussion forum, driven by Michael Moore’s transactional distance theory more than anything else. However, it was a pretty good motivator too, bringing people to the sites more frequently than those for static content course sites. I thought it was just because people like to socialise and also had to keep visiting in order to know what was happening. Turns out that dopamine may have played a role in this too!

Address of the bookmark:

I am a professional learner, employed as a Full Professor and Associate Dean, Learning & Assessment, at Athabasca University, where I research lots of things broadly in the area of learning and technology, and I teach mainly in the School of Computing & Information Systems. I am a proud Canadian, though I was born in the UK. I am married, with two grown-up children, and three growing-up grandchildren. We all live in beautiful Vancouver.

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