Has the “Learning Cone” been killed by eLearning?

Dr. Edgar Dale’s “Cone of Experience,” often referred to as the “Cone of Learning” or the “Learning Pyramid,” is well-known to anyone with even a passing familiarity with learning theory. This model, which was developed in the 1940s, serves as an example of the idea that the senses used throughout the learning process affect how much understanding a person retains. It appears to make perfect sense at first glances, like all great paradigms. Nevertheless, this pyramid has come under heavy criticism in recent years from educators and learning and development specialists, who have referred to it as one of the biggest teaching misconceptions ever. Its collapse might now be being hastened by eLearning and other EdTech.

The learning cone idea actually predates Dale, and at some point, an unknown person added percentages to the pyramid, along with strangely round percentages. The common learning cone graphic, which has been iterated hundreds of times, asserts that people only recall 10% of what they read, 20% of what they hear, 30% of what they see, 50% of what they see and hear, 70% of what they say and write, and 90% of what they say and do (such as while performing a task or teaching others).

EdTech influencer Will Thalheimer came to the conclusion that there is no scientific data (or any other data) that supports the assumption that retention improves with experiencing levels lower on the pyramid after studying several studies on the learning cone. “People don’t always recall more of what they hear or read, according to research. According to Thalheimer, people don’t always remember more of what they hear and see than what they actually see. The sequence of potency is wrong, and the statistics are absurd.

What Role Does eLearning Play Here?
With the exception of 1940s films and television, Dale was obviously unaware of the cutting-edge techniques for knowledge transfer accessible to students in the digital age. The distinctions between these experiential levels are now blurred by online learning. In order to best suit the subject matter—and the learner—at the time, both instructors and students can alter modalities.

Even standing alone, educational films have some benefits over in-person instruction. eLearning project analyst and instructional designer Lubos Janoska notes that learning films can add zoom and slow motion to the sections we should concentrate on, which we can rewind and replay as many times as necessary. They also trim out extraneous material from the live edition of the show.

How Multimodal Learning Creates a Stronger Foundation
Research on multimodal learning has indicated that the experiences are interrelated and should be mixed, despite the fact that previous and current studies have not consistently found that one level of the cone of experience is inherently superior to the others. This establishes a balance between real and abstract experiences that meets the demands of each learner, claims Brenda Corpuz in Educational Technology.

Professors Roxana Moreno and Richard Mayer discovered that using a variety of reading, lecturing, and audiovisual representations produced the best learning outcomes.

Consider a Better Training Model
Denise Pirrotti Hummel, CEO of the training firm Universal Consensus, asserts that the greatest training solution enables hybrid interaction when it comes to learning and development. In order to verify the value of the information and its successful implementation in the workplace, the programme should include the “human” element of interaction, such as threaded discussions, video conferencing, internal corporate social media forums, or scheduled break-out sessions.

Only eLearning will be able to distribute and incorporate future improvements that add even more dynamic, engaging, and immersive learning media, such as online gamification, augmented reality overlays, virtual reality environments, and more as technology advances.