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A brain-friendly way to present information: Learning Bursts

Posted Apr 17 2012 12:00am

File0001865744985 If you're involved in training or teaching, you've probably already heard of Learning Bursts; the method has been the topic of lots of articles and blog posts. Bursts are brain-friendly learning for several reasons, two of which I will mention today.

First, learners are using the information in several ways so the chances of remembering the information is increased. Each method is what I call a Synapse Supporter* and the more of them you use, the more likely you are to create new and lasting neuronal pathways, new synapses. In other words, use of multiple methods of interacting with the information increases the changes of learning and remembering what has been learned. I call it the hybrid vigor of learning.

Second, Learning Bursts are consistent with the 10-Minute Rule. Brain scientist John Medina says about the Rule :

Before the first quarter-hour is over in a typical presentation, people usually have checked out. If keeping someone’s interest in a lecture were a business, it would have an 80 percent failure rate. What happens at the 10-minute mark to cause such trouble? Nobody knows. The brain seems to be making choices according to some stubborn timing pattern, undoubtedly influenced by both culture and gene.

Now on to the Learning Burst. What is it? Learners listen to an audio of about 10 minutes, then read just a few workbook pages, next write about how they'll apply the content they listened to and read, and finally use the material via a case study or simulation. Click to read more about the method (ASTD).

I think for variation that the last two steps following the taking in of the material through listening and reading can be any of several methods of interacting with the material. For some ideas, take a look at the list of Synapse Supporters below. Let me know what you create.

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