Take a moment and reflect on these Attention Span Statistics from StatisticBrain.com.
- The average attention span in 2015: 8.25 seconds
- The average attention span in 2000: 12 seconds
- The average attention span of a goldfish: 9 seconds
- The average number of times per hour a person checks their email inbox: 30
- Average length watched of a single internet video: 2.7 minutes
Are we humans really experiencing a decreased attention span? Is 2017 the year we finally get surpassed by this common feeder fish which is found in aquariums and fishbowls? Should we as e-Learning designers take heed of these statistics and start designing our content accordingly? This may be a radical idea but what if these statistics were inaccurate? What if people really could focus for longer periods of time?
In a survey by Netflix in 2014, 61% of people said they binged-watch television regularly. If binge-watching is defined as watching 2-6 episodes of the same show in one sitting, then we’re watching anywhere from 1 to 3 hours. What about movies? According to Box Office Mojo’s Weekend Box Office report for February 10-12, 2017, these were the top three weekend movies based on gross sales along with their run-times:
- The LEGO Batman Movie: 1 hour, 44 minutes.
- Fifty Shades Darker: 1 hour, 58 minutes
- John Wick; Chapter Two: 2 hours, 2 minutes
Could it be possible the statistics mentioned earlier aren’t scientifically valid? Can people really focus for much longer periods of time?
In their book, “E-Learning and the Science of Instruction: Proven Guidelines for Consumers and Designers of Multimedia Learning,” Ruth Clark and Richard Mayer, made the following statement:
“From Las Vegas-Style media with game and glitz at one extreme to page turners consisting of text on screens at the other, many e-Learning courses ignore human cognitive processes and as a result do not optimize learning. “… the design of e-Learning courses should be based on a cognitive theory of how people learn and on scientifically valid research studies (Clark & Mayer.” – [Chapter 2, p. 31]
Perhaps it is more about engaging the learner and it’s never been about declining attention spans. Maybe our focus should be more on how to make the content we create more relevant to the learner or give them a reason for using the information in the first place.
What do you think?