Dan's Corner with Director of Training and Publications Dan Loomis

Have you ever heard of “Yes, and…” thinking? It’s a rule of thumb in improvisational comedy designed to keep a scene or game progressing. The premise is that a participant must accept a provided statement from their scene partner, and then expand on that line of thinking. More recently, businesses and other organizations have incorporated this principle as a means to improving team communication and effectiveness.

I recently saw a fantastic example of “Yes… and” activated in a way that may be interesting for association and education professionals.

Over the past several years, associations have debated the best way to deliver educational content to both meet the preferences of learners and the objectives of the organization. As Millennials entered the workforce, the thought was that more continuing education programs needed to migrate online or to digital-based delivery methods, as this is how younger generations wanted to engage and learn. Several research studies, however, have demonstrated that printed content facilitates better focus, understanding and retention—particularly when it comes to complex concepts and specific details. There are several theories on why this is the case:

  • Researchers since the 1970’s have noticed that memory appears to be visual-spatial
  • The tactile sense of progress through a book aids the reader with understanding the progress of the story or text
  • The act of scrolling is disruptive and interrupts focus
  • Our tendency when we interact with more leisurely content online is to skim and pull out keywords and points, and this behavior carries over even when we read for learning

Despite all of its advantages, print does have certain limitations that digital content could easily supplement. Given that, according to the Principles of Adult Learning & Instructional Design, we tend to retain only 10% of what we see, but 90% of what we see, hear and do, there is opportunity to pair the strengths of print with other supplementary tools such as video, audio and kinesthetic-based content.  Two authors are currently testing this concept.

John Parsons of IntuIdeas and Harvey Levenson, former Cal Poly Graphic Communication Department Head, recently launched the first textbook to use Clickable Paper Technology in an effort to combine print and multimedia engagement. This newest edition of Introduction to Graphic Communication, originally published in 2007, uses the book as an anchor to additional reference material to help reinforce the concepts introduced in the book.

Regardless of whether or not Clickable Paper Technology gains traction or is simply the first evolutionary step, it’s clear that the time has come to stop trying to make a choice between print or digital content. More organizations will start thinking about how to incorporate a “Yes…and” strategy, leveraging the strengths of each medium to increase both the effectiveness and attractiveness of their training programs.