The Nurnberg Funnel
Designing Minimalist Instruction for Practical Computer Skill
The legendary Funnel of Nurnberg was said to make people wise very quickly when the right knowledge was poured in; it is an approach that designers continue to apply in trying to make instruction more efficient.
How do people acquire beginning competence at using new technology? The legendary Funnel of Nurnberg was said to make people wise very quickly when the right knowledge was poured in; it is an approach that designers continue to apply in trying to make instruction more efficient. This book describes a quite different instructional paradigm that uses what learners do spontaneously to find meaning in the activities of learning. It presents the "minimalist" approach to instructional design - its origins in the study of people's learning problems with computer systems, its foundations in the psychology of learning and problem solving, and its application in a variety of case studies. Carroll demonstrates that the minimalist approach outperforms the standard "systems approach" in every relevant way - the learner, not the system determines the model and the methods of instruction. It supports the rapid achievement of realistic projects right from the start of training, instead of relying on drill and practice techniques, and designing for error recognition and recovery as basic instructional events, instead of seeing error as failure. The book's many examples - including a brief discussion of recent commercial applications - will help researchers and practitioners apply and develop this new instructional technology.
John M. Carroll has participated for a number of years as a leader in the interdisciplinary field of human-computer interactions. He is Manager of User Interface Theory and Design at IBM's Watson Research Center. The Nurnberg Funnel inaugurates the Technical Communications series, edited by Ed Barrett.