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In the Journal, Computers and Human Behavior, a study on divided attention and social media stated “The fundamental tenet of cognitive load theory is that the quality of instructional design will be raised if greater consideration is given to the role and limitations of working memory”.

So in the Age of Distraction, what is our current working memory? In the summer of 2015, Microsoft published a report that argued the widespread usage of smartphones has led to the deterioration of attention span from 12 seconds in 2000 to 8 seconds. That was four years ago. Is it less now?

Therefore, this exploration of Digital Minimalism, Essentialism, and Learning was a very timely – and personal – exploration into our relationships with technology. Our guest Christiana Houck recently made a journey in to minimalism and has integrated it into her digital lifestyle as well.

Our conversation began with defining Minimalism. Minimalism’s focus is on paring down materials and environment to get rid of the clutter. Essentialism is a bit different. Essentialism’s focus is to direct energy only on the things that matter; concentrate on less, but better. It’s differentiating between the background noise and the relevant, now an art or skill as technology continues to be more pervasive in our lives.

So in this TLDCast, we had an informal discussion about Christiana Houck’s background and her journey into a Minimalist mindset. Christiana is a Learning Solutions Director for a large gaming company and is responsible for training dozens of technicians to support their gaming machines that are located all over the world. Gaming machines, in particular, slot machines, are geared for distraction, and that irony is not lost on Christiana.

We discussed the three Digital Minimalist principles:

  1. Technology use should be intentional not habitual.
  2. Technology is for making stuff not feeling better.
  3. Technology should never come before people.

We also talked about the considerations Instructional Designers may have in building their training. For example, Christian deTorres commented:

To address user distraction: Chunk training into smaller modules. I open up with scenarios and short quizzes that most people get wrong–which I feel perks them up as they realize this isn’t something they already know.

What are your thoughts on Digital Minimalism? Have you found your digital habits evolving to allow you more mental capacity for reflection and contemplation? We’d love to hear your comments, so please comment below or join us in our Slack group at www.TLDChat.com.

Some comments from Chat:

Minimalism is great if essential applications are not silenced. There have been cases I have missed important events do to minimalism. Just be mindful of how to apply the concept. — Brad Imler

Managing notifications can minimize a lot of stress and definitely increase focus.  But we will miss them.  Because the notification gives us a tiny shot of dopamine.  And then we look at the screen and get a little bigger shot.  And that is some good stuff! — Betty Dannewitz

Some e-learning apps push notifications (reminders) which can distract the trainees. We need to evaluate if push notifications are effective. — Brad Imler

To address user distraction: Chunk training into smaller modules. I open up with scenarios and short quizzes that most people get wrong–which I feel perks them up as they realize this isn’t something they already know. — Christian deTorres

One rule I do follow is I do not have my work email on my phone and I never will — Cara North

Links

http://www.calnewport.com/books/digital-minimalism/
https://nickwignall.com/what-is-digital-minimalism/
https://gregmckeown.com/book/
https://www.forbes.com/sites/lawtonursrey/2014/04/17/the-art-of-essentialism/#6cd16f3b6516
How Disconnection Boosts Your Creativity
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cognitive_load

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