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Category Archives: Sloth & Froth

Creative Agni eZine, Sloth & Froth, and Some ID Fiction.

The Creative Agni eZine notification was sent out today. I know that it should’ve been done earlier, but I just couldn’t get down to wrapping it up until this morning.

If you haven’t subscribed to it, you can do so here.

I should say that there are two posts (among many others) that I would really love to share with my blog-readers.

  1.  A Short Story – Dushyant & Shakuntala – Why Love kills Logic?
  2. Sloth & Froth Comics – Teamwork Training and Decision-making

While you are there, you can also explore rest of the site and also meet Coffeebeans the Pup.

 

 

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Announcing the birth of the Creative Agni Instructional Design and eLearning eZine

I’d like to invite the readers of this blog to the Creative Agni eZine site. It was designed in my after-work hours. Those extra hours took their toll on my neck and shoulders, but when I was done, I felt that  it was all worthwhile 🙂

The Creative Agni eZine has the following five sections.

  • ID Fiction
  • The IDEAL
  • ELearning
  • The Creative Lounge
  • Sloth & Froth

Do visit the eZine site here. If you like what you see there, subscribe to the Creative Agni eLearning eZine 🙂

 

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Re-introducing Sloth and Froth!

I am not sure if I’ve ever formally introduced you to Sloth and Froth. They appear in my posts off and on. In other words, they’ve been freelancing – but now I intend to offer them a permanent position here. Thus, it becomes all the more necessary that they are introduced to you, their real audience.

Meet Sloth.

He (yes, HE) is a personification of his name. He is lazy. He is someone who’d love to have a droid doing his work for him. Sloth hates to get up in the mornings, he abhors the idea of taking a bath (even of  brushing his teeth, but he won’t tell you that,) and his daily To-do list begins with the task of finding an unsuspecting mule who’d do his work for him.

Fortunately, Sloth is very intelligent. His huge body houses an equally huge IQ…and so he’s not a complete loser, but he is absolutely NOT charismatic…and he doesn’t care. He loves to complain, and he is of the opinion that the entire world has been paid to conspire against him.

Now meet Froth.

She (yes, SHE – what did you think?) is bubbly, quite like her name. She’s full of energy. She resembles a freshly uncorked bottle of Soda. She’s extremely energetic and you’d think that she’d never tire out – but she does, because she’s also a perfectionist. She is an extreme hardworker – to the extent that she burns every extra ounce of fat off her perfect body. Froth’s charismatic; she’s attractive, and she’s very lively.

Froth is a career woman. She wants  to do well in her career and she doesn’t want to do it by cutting corners (if you know what I mean.) She is always politically correct but at the same time  she’s also quite emotional. This makes her feel stressed at times.

Following are the posts in which Sloth and Froth have featured so far. I hope you like them, because you’ll be seeing a lot more of them on this blog:)

PS: Does this post smack of Reverse-Gender-Bias?

Froth says: This isn’t gender-bias, this is how things are. Women are blah…blah…and men are blaher…bhaher!
Sloth says: Who cares? Pass me the mustard!

 

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Prior Learning in Adults – A Double-edged Sword?

A double-edged sword has to be wielded with care. My experience with adult learners has taught me that the heaviest and the deadliest double-edged sword that most adult learners own is their prior learning.

The Principle of Experience in Knowles’ Andragogy suggests “he/she accumulates a growing reservoir of experiences that becomes a resource for learning”. There’s nothing wrong with this principle. In fact, from the Cognitivist’s angle, this “reservoir of experiences” helps us design effective learning content. But how the adult learner chooses to use his or her prior learning, would in fact, determine whether it would facilitate or impede the acquisition of new learning.

Here’s what happened when Sloth and Froth attended a short orientation program on Organizational Behavior. The program focused on understanding the factors that motivated people.

Sloth, as you know, had spent most of his life closeted in his office-cum-bedroom, with his mom doing his bidding all the time. While thus closeted, he spent his time reading all sorts of books, and this led him to become a “reservoir of theoretical knowledge.” Obviously when the training came up, he found it rather difficult to haul himself to his car and then drive to the training venue. He reached a little late and took his seat after mumbling an indistinct apology to the trainer. The day had begun for him.

Froth, on the other hand, lived alone and preferred to spend her spare time with her friends. She liked to learn what she could apply – nothing more, nothing less. Froth cooked her own food and she maintained a tidy apartment. She had been looking forward to this training program, the entire week, and so on the morning of the training day, she was prepared. She reached the training venue a little before time, and even had an opportunity to talk to some of the other participants.

The trainer began with a quick icebreaker, which didn’t really go down well with Sloth. “Let’s not waste time,” he said into the ear of participant who sat on his right, who gave a non-committal smile.

Before the trainer could begin, Sloth had a question. He wanted to know whether the MBTI would be covered in the training. Right after the trainer had begun, something made Sloth remember something about the theory of X and Y, and so he asked, and when the trainer said that it wasn’t part of the program, Sloth offered to tell others about it. His offer was turned down politely, but the refusal continued to rankle in Sloth’s mind. He made a note of it in his mind, and waited patiently for the discussion to begin. There would be a discussion, all training programs had them – it had something to do with the adult learning theory, thought Sloth.

The response that Sloth’s query invoked in others could be called mixed. The fresh incumbents were in awe of him and felt inadequate. Those who knew Sloth knew what was to come when the discussions began.

In the discussions, Sloth tried to become the center of attention, but he quickly lost track. Though he had much to share, his contribution wasn’t relevant. Instead, it steered the participants away from the core discussion. Froth however was more interested in reviewing how what she had learned mapped or didn’t map to her prior experiences. These feelings she shared with her group-mates, who then began sharing their experiences as well. The facilitator tried to help Sloth, but his prior learning had already hardened into an attitude and it was almost impossible for him to leave his mold so soon.

You know the end of the story…don’t you?
Froth went home richer and happier. Sloth went back grumpier and dissatisfied. Froth didn’t have prior knowledge of Organizational Behavior theories – she had prior experiences though. She shared them. Sloth didn’t have prior experiences, he had prior knowledge, and the knowledge interfered with his ability to learn more. They both exhibited the same adult learning behavior – they wanted to share what they knew!

Let us review the success of the training program.

The training program was created for people who needed an orientation; it was designed for the newly minted managers. Most of the newly minted managers had profiles that matched the audience profile for the training. It was assumed (and not incorrectly) that the executives who were recently promoted to being managers would not have spent many years of their lives going through the motivational theories. For this reason, the program was successful for 14 out of 15 participants. It worked for everyone, except you-know-who. The trainer went home happy – the learners went home happy…everyone was happy except the person who knew it all – but who couldn’t use any of it!


If not wielded carefully, Prior Learning could be a dangerous weapon!

If you are a learner with tons of knowledge, do the right thing. Read the next post on this blog to discover how you could rein in your knowledge and direct it usefully.

 

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Learning About Twitter, Tweets, Followers, Hashtags, and Lists – with Sloth & Froth!

Personally, I am not equipped to tweet a lot. For one, I am not at the computer all the time. Though I often wonder whether I could really stay wired for longer durations (and more frequently,) I don’t think that the nature of my work would allow me to do so. Thankfully, this doesn’t stop me from engaging in learning through the experiential and observational means.

Here’s the outcome of some background check that I ran on Twitter. Froth and Sloth offered to help me make this a bit more than just some boring download of information – so with my heartfelt gratitude to both of them – here’s their conversation, reproduced verbatim. I hope it will help the greenhorn tweeters find their way through the micro-blogging maze!

Sloth: Hiya Froth! What are you up to?
Froth: I am tweeting.

Sloth: Since when are you a bird?
Froth: No silly. This isn’t the avian variety of twitter. It’s the human twitter on the web!

Sloth: Woven by the spiders?
Froth: You are right…in a way! But these spiders are made of zeroes and ones.

Sloth: Now I’m losing it!
Froth: (Sounding exasperated): It figures!

Sloth: So you are tweeting…but why?
Froth: To tell people about things that I think about.

Sloth: Who’s listening?
Froth: My followers, of course!

Sloth: And how did you find your followers?
Froth: I followed them, I promoted and publicized my tweets…

Sloth: Aha…I get it! I follow others and they follow me…
Froth: Yes! Look at my profile. I’ve got 3256 followers and I follow 4328 people.

Sloth: With an average tweet-rate of 2 per day, when you follow 4328 people, you read 8656 tweets a day! Do you?
Froth: Of course not. I view about 20 whenever I check the tweets – and so about 100 in a day.

Sloth: So can we say then, that your probability of viewing a tweet is 100/8656 or about 1.2%?
Froth (Reflecting, Chewing her lower lip): I guess so. But then note this. When I tweet, assuming the probability of every one person viewing my tweet being the same 1.2%; of the 3256 people who follow me, there’s a good chance that 41 people will view my tweet. Isn’t that a good hit-rate?

Sloth: And there’s always the chance that most of the people who tweet wouldn’t have a profile as active as yours…and so their chances of viewing your tweets would be even higher.
Froth: You got it sloth! An yes, you can also use hashtags to improve the chances of people viewing your tweets and even following you.

Sloth: Whew! Another complication! Tweeting seems to be a lot of hard work.
Froth: The perception of hard work is relative, and if I know you, creating your Twitter account with wear your down!

Sloth: Don’t while away your life working…that’s what I say. But tell me, Froth. What are these hashtags?
Froth: Hashtags are like beacons, helping people search for the tweets that interest them. When a tweet has a hashtag say “#sloth”, the hashtag appears as a link in the tweet, and people can click it to view all the tweets that contain “#sloth”!

Sloth: Is “#sloth” a common hashtag?
Froth: Sloth dear! People wouldn’t want to make their relationship with you public. Would they?

Sloth: Of course not! I am one of the top three secret pleasures! About the hashtags…I think they’re cool!
Froth: And then, you’ve got the lists. You can make your lists where you classify the tweeters (that you follow or you don’t), and then you can keep these lists with you as private lists or share them with others by making them public. Who knows…there might be many engaged in creating private lists that they could later sell to the web publicity companies. But I should tell you that creating lists is hard work!

Sloth: I get the message. Tweeting definitely isn’t for me then. But thanks. I’ve recorded this conversation and will podcast it.
Froth: But I’ll publish it as a textual conversation before you release your podcast!

Sloth: That soon?
Froth: I AM DONE!

Here are some links that could add more to your understanding of hashtags and lists.

http://hashtags.org/
http://listorious.com/

And if you are interested in following my currently occasional but progressively (hopefully) more frequent posts, click @zenoflearning.

 
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Posted by on February 26, 2010 in Sloth & Froth, Web 2.0

 

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Learning, Learning Mediums, and eLearning!

Let us continue our exploration of the phenomenon of learning. Remember learning is “acquisition” of knowledge, skills, and attitude. When we speak of acquiring something, we also speak of “someplace” from where it shall be acquired, thus, we refer to an “environment”.

So we can say that Learning results from an interaction between the learner and the environment. This interaction could be learner-driven or environment-driven, and it takes place through a “medium of communication.”

Let us understand it by analyzing the behavior of an old acquaintance, Ms. Froth. Froth wants to learn “how to blog.” Here’s how we can explain her behavior in the terminology that we’ve now “acquired.”

Froth (the learner) wishes to learn (the learning process is thus, learner-driven) “How to blog” (a skill to be acquired; if she already knows how to blog, but now wishes to learn how to blog more effectively, she’d be “modifying” a skill, which is another aspect of learning.) For this learning, she will have to interact with the environment (comprising her friends, colleagues, trainers, books, and of course – the Web,) through an appropriate communication medium (speech, text, training material, online content.)

You got it…right?
Now you are ready to lift the shroud of mystery that surrounds the learning mediums.

Simply put, a learning medium is a communication medium which is used for the purpose of learning.

Thus, you have:

  • Classroom trainings (where the communication medium is primarily non-tech (apart from some non-interactive, soporific PowerPoint presentation.)
  • ELearning (where the medium of communication is electronic – usually computers.)

I am not going to spend a lot of your precious time on expanding upon classroom trainings. That you are reading this post goes to prove that you’ve had enough of that experience. So let us try to figure out this exotic bird called eLearning.


Photo by kodomut

ELearning is the name given to all such learning, which uses technology as a medium to communicate. Thus, online courses and trainings as well as standalone computer-based training programs, and even blogs such as the one you are reading now, comprise elearning.

Actually, eLearning isn’t an exotic bird at all. It is the same learning that we know so well – with the medium of communication being the only tangible difference. There’s no difference as far as the learner’s psychology and the instructional design principles are concerned.

However, there’s a lot of difference between the way both kinds of learning programs are designed, developed, and implemented. As you might’ve guessed, most of the difference results from the technological angle, which unfortunately bugs many of the traditionalists.

So when Froth searches the web, or buys a CD that tells her “How to Blog”, she learns through eLearning. From the learner’s angle eLearning isn’t very different from classroom training. Froth still uses her senses (seeing/hearing) to absorb the new learning, and then processes it cognitively; the way she’d do in a classroom-training program. But yes, there’s a lot of difference between the way a classroom trainer would prepare the content and an eLearning instructional designer would.

In my next post, we’ll ponder over some of these differences. We also haven’t spoken of the blended learning solutions (where you blend elearning with traditional classroom learning) – but I believe that if we understand the two ingredients of blended learning correctly, blended learning would explain itself.

Until Friday then:-)

 

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Attribution Theory & Self-Serving Bias – Why People play down the Achievements of Others? (1 of 3)

The reason behind this incredible human tendency to belittle the achievements of others can be explained through Weiner’s Attribution Theory. This set of posts shall discuss the three factors (locus of control, stability, and controllability) that influence the way we attribute reasons to everything.

This post shall introduce the first factor, “locus of control” and help us build a real-life connect for this theory. The next post shall introduce the other two factors, and the final post will help you review how you can spice up your trainings and content through the application of this theory and the concepts related to it.

So, put on your protective gear…we are ready to take the plunge!

Photo by Lukjonis

Let’s begin by meeting Sloth and Froth. It’s evening now, and we find them at their homes (different ones of course – I hope I didn’t give you any reason to believe that they were related!) Today, the promotions were announced…Sloth wasn’t promoted (no surprise – thanks to constructivism) and Froth was (of course!)

Here’s what they tell themselves:

Sloth:
Froth got promoted because her boss (a male in this case,) is completely smitten by her.
I wasn’t promoted because my earlier boss, who was reasonable and sweet, got transferred; and now I’ve got to work under this insufferable hag!


Froth:
I got promoted because I am smart and intelligent. It’s my hard work on that project that led to this promotion.
Sloth? He didn’t get promoted because he’s a sloth-ball. He’s a lazy procrastinator, who wouldn’t raise his hand to wipe his nose, hoping that the tissue would fly out of the box and land on his nose.

What do you think? Is their behavior normal? Would you (and I) behave similarly? There’s a good chance that we would…because Attribution theory applies to all of us!
Here’s a quick analysis:

Sloth “attributes” his failure (to get promoted) to “external factors” (replacement of the sweet boss with the bitter pill.) He also “attributes” Froth’s success (in being promoted) to “external factors” (the boss being smitten by her.)
Froth “attributes” her success to “internal factors” (smartness, intelligence, and hard work) and Sloth’s failure too to “internal factors” (being a sloth-ball, and an inveterate procrastinator.)


Thus, for our successes and others’ failures, we do an internal attribution (thus, the locus is internal,) and for our failures and others’ successes, we do an external attribution (with an external locus.)

Internal Attribution (also called “dispositional attribution”) >>> Internal Locus >>> The factors causing “this” are located within me.
External Attribution (also called “situational attribution”) >>> External Locus >>> The factors causing “this” are located outside me.


According to the Attribution theory, the locus of control is one of the three factors that are instrumental in attributions. I hope Sloth and Froth have helped you understand what this factor “locus of control” means.

To simplify matters, we attempt to take all the credit for our successes, and none for our failures; while we try to strip others of the credit for their successes (crediting external factors instead) and credit them with the burden of their failures. This tendency is also known as a “self-serving bias.”

Remember – to shorten a line without erasing, you need to draw a bigger line parallel to it. Fortunately all of our reality exists in our perception, and so as civilized humans – we attempt “improve” our goodness by casting ourselves in better and others in poorer light! So often, without improving our actual skills, we can “perceive” ourselves as bigger, better, stronger, more intelligent than the next person – through an intuitive self-serving bias!

In the next post, we will discuss the two other factors (stability and controllability) that explain the human behavior’s pull-‘em-down-to-hoist-me-up tendency!

The reason behind this incredible human tendency to belittle the achievements of others can be explained through Weiner’s Attribution Theory. This set of posts shall discuss the three factors (locus of control, stability, and controllability) that influence the way we attribute reasons to everything.

This post shall introduce the first factor, “locus of control” and help us build a real-life connect for this theory. The next post shall introduce the other two factors, and the final post will help you review how you can spice up your trainings and content through the application of this theory and the concepts related to it.

So, put on your protective gear…we are ready to take the plunge!
Let’s begin by meeting Sloth and Froth. It’s evening now, and we find them at their homes (different ones of course – I hope I didn’t give you any reason to believe that they were related!) Today, the promotions were announced…Sloth wasn’t promoted (no surprise – thanks to constructivism) and Froth was (of course!)
Here’s what they tell themselves:
Sloth:
Froth got promoted because her boss (a male in this case,) is completely smitten by her.
I wasn’t promoted because my earlier boss, who was reasonable and sweet, got transferred; and now I’ve got to work under this insufferable hag!
Froth:
I got promoted because I am smart and intelligent. It’s my hard work on that project that led to this promotion.
Sloth? He didn’t get promoted because he’s a sloth-ball. He’s a lazy procrastinator, who wouldn’t raise his hand to wipe his nose, hoping that the tissue would fly out of the box and land on his nose.
What do you think? Is their behavior normal? Would you (and I) behave similarly? There’s a good chance that we would…because Attribution theory applies to all of us!
Here’s a quick analysis:
Sloth “attributes” his failure (to get promoted) to “external factors” (replacement of the sweet boss with the bitter pill.) He also “attributes” Froth’s success (in being promoted) to “external factors” (the boss being smitten by her.)
Froth “attributes” her success to “internal factors” (smartness, intelligence, and hard work) and Sloth’s failure too to “internal factors” (being a sloth-ball, and an inveterate procrastinator.)
Thus, for our successes and others’ failures, we do an internal attribution (thus, the locus is internal,) and for our failures and others’ successes, we do an external attribution (with an external locus.)
Internal Attribution (also called “dispositional attribution”) >>> Internal Locus >>> The factors causing “this” are located within me.
External Attribution (also called “situational attribution”) >>> External Locus >>> The factors causing “this” are located outside me.
According to the Attribution theory, the locus of control is one of the three factors that are instrumental in attributions. I hope Sloth and Froth have helped you understand what this factor “locus of control” means. To simplify matters, we attempt to take all the credit for our successes, and none for our failures; while we try to strip others of the credit for their successes (crediting external factors instead) and credit them with the burden of their failures. This tendency is also known as a “self-serving bias.”
Remember – to shorten a line without erasing, you need to draw a bigger line parallel to it. Fortunately all of our reality exists in our perception, and so as civilized humans – we attempt “improve” our goodness by casting ourselves in better and others in poorer light! So often, without improving our actual skills, we can “perceive” ourselves as bigger, better, stronger, more intelligent than the next person – through an intuitive self-serving bias!
In the next post, we will discuss the two other factors (stability and controllability) that explain the human behavior’s pull-‘em-down-to-hoist-me-up tendency!

 

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