There is a lot of research that we and others have done on these issues (see some of it below). The difficult and tricky challenge is how to translate this theoretical and academic research into practical ways to enhance learning. At Cognitive Consultants International (CCI-HQ) we are especially interested and have experience in doing just that: Bridging basic research about learning into ways that make learning efficient and effective; by doing so, we are able to create learning programs that can achieve much more learning without increasing investment.
Dr. Dror and others at CCI-HQ have received a number of awards in recognition of our achievements in technology enhanced learning. CCI-HQ has been awarded research grants and projects (in excess of £1,500,000) to further investigate how to utilise and optimise learning technologies (these grants include an ESRC-EPSRC award on Merging Technology and Cognition, a US Air Force Research grant on skill and knowledge acquisition, and on using interactive videos; see list of our clients). Dr Itiel Dror is a member of the Task Force on Lifelong Learning at Work and at Home of the Association for Psychological Science (APS), and has given numerous Keynote Presentations.
CCI-HQ offers a host of solutions, research, workshops and consultancy services relating to training. Our research projects include Training Needs Analysis (TNA) and suggesting training solutions and technologies, examining specific training modules and methods where we conduct cognitive analysis and provide cost effective ways for improvement, and field data collection where we quantify the actual benefit of the training and recommend how to further enhance it. We also design, develop and deliver a variety of learning solutions, such as interactive videos. Our workshops are tailored to the specific needs of our customers; many of our workshops provide cognitive insights into different aspects of training, such as knowledge acquisition, memory and modification of behaviour, use of technology enhanced learning, and how to create efficient and long lasting mental representations (see example). Our past and current clients include Price Waterhouse Coopers (PWC), National Centre for Applied Learning Technology (NCALT), LAPD, NYPD, Army Foundation College (AFC), Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (CIPD), Learn Direct, Ministry of Defense (MoD), Deutsche Bank, and Prudential.
Dr. Itiel Dror has received the 2014 ABP (Association for Business Psychology) Annual Award for 'Excellence in Training'.
For an overview of some of these issues, see the article Technology Enhanced Learning: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, or the article A Cognitive Perspective on Technology Enhanced Learning: Great Opportunities, Pitfalls and Challenges.
For a specific example of how we use our understanding of human cognitive processes to design more effective and efficient learning, see the article Helping the Cognitive System Learn: Exaggerating Distinctiveness and Uniqueness, or the article A novel approach to minimize error in the medical domain: Cognitive neuroscientific insights into training.
Further publications and presentations on these issues:
Training (whether traditional, e-learning, or blended learning) is intimately connected and dependent on the human cognitive system. Learning means that the cognitive system acquires information and stores it for future use. If these processes do not occur properly, then the learners will not initially acquire the information, and even if they do, then they will not be able to recall it later, or/and the information will not be utilised and behaviour modified.
It does not matter if the objective is learning new information (e.g., minimizing bias, compliance regulations, product specifications, patient safety, etc.), acquiring new skills (e.g., operating new apparatus, customer service, time management, etc.), or knowledge sharing and transfer within or across organizations, the processes of acquiring, storing and applying the information are critical. The question is how do you achieve these cornerstones of learning? The answer is clear: The learning must fit human cognition. See specific details in scientific peer-reviewed articles, below).
For learning to be successful it must conform to the architecture of the mind. For example, this means training must take into account constraints on information processing capacity. Information during learning, need not be reduced to fit the limits of the cognitive system, rather the information must be conveyed in ways in which the system can easily acquire and store it. This can be accomplished by using the correct mental representations and engaging the cognitive system on its own terms. Doing so will not only enable quick and efficient acquisition, but the knowledge gained will be better remembered and will have an impact on behaviour.