For Consulting and Contact Information

For Consulting and Contact Information

If you'd like to contact me, or learn more about my Moodle, e-learning, and Blackboard consulting services, please make a quick trip to my new website at

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

10 Brain-Based Learning Laws

I am especially interested in taking teaching techniques that work in the classroom, and adapting them for online teaching. My book Moodle Teaching Techniques began as a long list of classroom teaching techniques that worked for me. I chose techniques from that list, and show the reader how to apply them online.

Jeff Hurt's blog entry, 10 Brain-Based Learning Laws That Trump Traditional Education, suggests 10 research-based principles for effective teaching. His article is intended for classroom teachers and presenters. These principles, or laws of learning, can be accomplished online with some specific techniques. So just like we can take traditional teaching techniques and adapt them for online teaching, we can take the latest research-based teaching principles and apply them online using specific techniques.

Let's look at one of these brain-based laws of learning, and figure out how we can apply it online. 

Law 2: Emotions trumps facts.

Hurt writes that, "Neuroscience has proven that everything the brain learns is filtered through emotions. There are no exceptions. How we use emotion to aide learning determines learning’s success."

To apply this law, we should bring the emotion to class early. Get the student into the desired emotional state first, and then start teaching the student. We can bring an emotional component to our online classes in several ways.

Consider putting an emotional, motivational video into the introduction of your course. For example you could begin a course about the oceans with the traditional course description and list of learing objectives. Or, you could begin it with a fun video:

In 1992, a freighter hit a storm in the Pacific Ocean sending two containers packed with 29,000 plastic ducks overboard. Dr Iain Stewart tells the story of how the mighty ocean currents sent them on an epic journey to the four corners of the Earth.

Then, you can state the learning objectives in terms that refer back to this video. For example, instead of saying,

We will learn to identify the major ocean currents, and how they organize themselves into gyres.

we could say:

We will learn about the major ocean currents that probably carried the rubber ducks on their journey, and how the gyres formed by the currents could take the ducks on an endless cicular journey.

Because we are not there to set the emotional tone for our online class, we need to use a proxy to set the tone. Video and audio can set the emotional stage for us.

In future posts, I'll talk about how we can apply some more of Hurt's ten brain-based learning laws.

As always, I welcome your comments!