10. Personalization Principle

The Personalization Principle means that conversational style is better than formal style.  Below is a video to introduce you to the principle – The first part of the video will make you want to turn it off, but keep watching – it starts with what not to do!!

The Personalization Principle (4:43)

When we are teaching, whether we think of this or not, there is a “conversation” going on with the student, even when the student is reading text, watching multimedia, or even playing an interactive educational game.  This student interaction is important not only for getting information to the learner, but also for student motivation.

Figure of a Nurse who looks like she is leading a class.
  • Use conversational style and virtual coaches – we want to engage the learner by delivering content in a conversational tone to increase learning.
  • Use conversational rather than formal style – Use conversational instead of formal writing so learners interact with the computer in a way that resembles human-to-human conversations. Of course, learners know that the character is not really in a conversation with them, but they may be more likely to act as if the character is a conversation partner.
  • Students should learn better with a human voice than a machine voice – Research provided by Nass and Brave shows that characteristics of the speaker’s voice can have a strong effect on learners.
  • Students learn better from a narrated animation when the speech is in conversation style rather than formal style.
  • Use on-screen coaches (for example, an automated cartoon character from Powtoon) to promote learning – In E-learning the instructor can be an on-screen character who interacts with the learner.  According to Clark and Mayer, pedagogical agents are on-screen characters who help guide during an e-learning process.  Agents can be shown visually as virtual images or as cartoon-like characters; they can be represented verbally through human recorded voice or printed text. They can be representations of real people using video and human voice.
  • Make the Author visible to promote learning – Characteristics of visible authors are promoting and increasing learner motivation and speak directly to the reader in a personal style.

There have been many studies supporting the personalization principle and it’s effectiveness, and they show that learners engage in deeper cognitive processing during learning.  Material using a conversational writing style and addition of on-screen characters can be more effective for some types of learner.  Another benefit of applying the personalization principle is that it helps provide the teacher with a sense of presence in the online classroom.

Thanks for subscribing to the FLC.  I’ll see you next week with the Voice Principle!

Mayer, R. (2014). The Cambridge Handbook of Multimedia Learning, Second Edition. New York City: Cambridge University Press.

Nass, Clifford & Brave, Scott. (2005). Wired for Speech : How Voice Activates and Advances the Human-Computer Relationship / C. Nass, S. Brave.

Silverman, L. (2013, February 19). The Personalization Principle. Retrieved November 11, 2019, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoX5QpH2S_E.