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21st December 2020

Neon Elephant Award Announcement

Dr. Will Thalheimer, President of Work-Learning Research, Inc., announces the winner of the 2020 Neon Elephant Award, given to Mirjam Neelen and Paul Kirschner for writing the book, Evidence-Informed Learning Design: Use Evidence to Create Training Which Improves Performanceand for their many years publishing their blog 3-Star Learning Experiences.

Click here to learn more about the Neon Elephant Award…

2020 Award Winners – Mirjam Neelen and Paul Kirschner

Mirjam Neelen is one of the world’s most accomplished research-practitioners in the workplace learning field. On the practical side, Mirjam has played many roles. As of this writing, she is the Head of Global Learning Design and Learning Sciences at Novartis. She has been a Learning Experience Design Lead at Accenture and at the Learnovate Centre in Dublin, an Instructional Designer at Google, and Instructional Design Lead at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Mirjam utilizes evidence-informed wisdom in her work and also partners with Paul A. Kirschner in the 3-Star Learning Experience blog to bring research and evidence-informed insights to the workplace learning field. Mirjam is a member of the Executive Advisory Board of The Learning Development Accelerator.

Paul A. Kirschner is Professor Emeritus at the Open University of the Netherlands and owner of kirschner-ED, an educational consulting practice. Paul is an internationally recognized expert in learning and educational research, with many classic studies to his name. He has served as President of the International Society for the Learning Sciences, is an AERA (American Education Research Association) Research Fellow (the first European to receive this honor). He has published several very successful books: Ten Steps to Complex Learning, Urban Myths about Learning and Education. More Urban Myths about Learning and Education, and this year he published How Learning Happens: Seminal Works in Educational Psychology and What They Mean in Practice with Carl Hendrick — as well as the book he and Mirjam are honored for here. Kirschner previously won the Neon Elephant Award in 2016 for the book Urban Myths about Learning and Education written with Pedro De Bruyckere and Casper D. Hulshof. Also, Paul’s co-author on the Ten-Steps book, Jeroen van Merriënboer, won the Neon-Elephant award in 2011.

Relevant Websites

Mirjam’s and Paul’s book, Evidence-Informed Learning Design was published only ten months ago, but has already swept the world as a book critical to learning architects and learning executives in their efforts to build the most effective learning designs. In my book review earlier this year I wrote, “Mirjam Neelen and Paul Kirschner have written a truly beautiful book—one that everyone in the workplace learning field should read, study, and keep close at hand. It’s a book of transformational value because it teaches us how to think about our jobs as practitioners in utilizing research-informed ideas to build maximally effective learning architectures.”

Mirjam Neelen and Paul Kirschner are the kind of research translators we should honor and emulate in the workplace learning field. They are unafraid in seeking the truth, passionate in sharing research- and evidence-informed wisdom, dogged in compiling research from scientific journals, and thoughtful in making research ideas accessible to practitioners in our field. It is an honor to recognize Mirjam and Paul as this year’s winners of the Neon Elephant Award.

 

Click here to learn more about the Neon Elephant Award…

 

 

12th December 2019

Neon Elephant Award Announcement

Dr. Will Thalheimer, President of Work-Learning Research, Inc., announces the winner of the 2019 Neon Elephant Award, given to David Epstein for writing the book Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World, and for his many years as a journalist and science-inspired truth teller.

Click here to learn more about the Neon Elephant Award…

 

2019 Award Winner – David Epstein

David Epstein, is an award-winning writer and journalist, having won awards for his writing from such esteemed bodies as the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, the Society of Professional Journalists, and the National Center on Disability and Journalism—and has been included in the Best American Science and Nature Writing anthology. David has been a science writer for ProPublica and a senior writer at Sports Illustrated where he helped break the story on baseball legend Alex Rodriguez’s steroid use. David speaks internationally on performance science and the uses (and misuses) of data and his TED talk on human athletic performance has been viewed over eight million times.

Mr. Epstein is the author of two books:

David is honored this year for his new book on human learning and development, Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World. The book lays out a very strong case for why most people will become better performers if they focus broadly on their development rather than focusing tenaciously and exclusively on one domain. If we want to raise our children to be great soccer players (aka “football” in most places), we’d be better off having them play multiple sports rather than just soccer. If we want to develop the most innovative cancer researchers, we shouldn’t just train them in cancer-related biology and medicine, we should give them a wealth of information and experiences from a wide range of fields.

Range is a phenomenal piece of art and science. Epstein is truly brilliant in compiling and comprehending the science he reviews, while at the same time telling stories and organizing the book in ways that engage and make complex concepts understandable. In writing the book, David is debunking the common wisdom that performance is improved most rapidly and effectively by focusing practice and learning toward a narrow foci. Where others have only hinted at the power of a broad developmental pathway, Epstein’s Range builds up a towering landmark of evidence that will remain visible on the horizon of the learning field for decades if not millennium.

We in the workplace learning-and-development field should immerse ourselves in Range—not just in thinking about how to design learning and architect learning contexts, but also in thinking about how to evaluate prospects for recruitment and hiring. It’s likely that we currently undervalue people with broad backgrounds and artificially overvalue people with extreme and narrow talents.

Here is a nice article where Epstein wrestles with a question that elucidates an issue we have in our field—what happens when many people in a field are not following research-based guidelines. The article is set in the medical profession, but there are definite parallels to what we face everyday in the learning field.

Epstein is the kind of person we should honor and emulate in the workplace learning field. He is unafraid in seeking the truth, relentless and seemingly inexhaustible in his research efforts, and clear and engaging as a conveyor of information. It is an honor to recognize him as this year’s winner of the Neon Elephant Award.

 

Click here to learn more about the Neon Elephant Award…

 

The Neon Elephant Award

The Neon Elephant Award is awarded to a person, team, or organization exemplifying enlightenment, integrity, and innovation in the field of workplace learning and performance. Announced in December—during the time of year when the northern hemisphere turns away from darkness toward the light and hope of warmer days to come—the Neon Elephant Award honors those who have truly changed the way we think about the practice of learning and performance improvement. Award winners are selected for demonstrated success in pushing the field forward in significant paradigm-altering ways while maintaining the highest standards of ethics and professionalism. 

 

Why “Neon Elephant?”

The elephant represents learning, power, strength, and the importance of nurturing the community. The glow of neon represents enlightenment, illumination, and a spark of something unique and alluring.

 

Selection Methodology

The award is based purely on merit and the criteria detailed above. Proposals are not accepted, nor are any entrance fees solicited or accepted. While advice on the selection is sought from industry thought leaders, Dr. Will Thalheimer of Work-Learning Research is the final arbiter. Awards will only be made in years when exceptional contributions to the workplace learning and performance field are apparent.

 

Winners

The 2020 Neon Elephant Award, given this year to Mirjam Neelen and Paul Kirschner for writing the book, Evidence-Informed Learning Design: Use Evidence to Create Training Which Improves Performanceand for their many years publishing their blog 3-Star Learning Experiences.

The 2019 Neon Elephant Award, given this year to David Epstein for writing the book Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World, and for his many years as a journalist and science-inspired truth teller.

The 2018 Neon Elephant Award, given this year to Clark Quinn for writing a book debunking the learning myths, Millennials, Goldfish & Other Training Misconceptions: Debunking Learning Myths and Superstitions—and for his many years advocating for research-based practices in the workplace learning field.

The 2017 Neon Elephant Award, given this year to Patti Shank for writing and publishing two research-to-practice books this year, Write and Organize for Deeper Learning and Practice and Feedback for Deeper Learning—and for her many years advocating for research-based practices in the workplace learning field.

The 2016 Neon Elephant Award, given this year to Pedro De Bruycere, Paul A. Kirschner, and Casper D. Hulshof for their book Urban Myths about Learning and Education—a book that provides a research-based reality check on the myths and misinformation that float around the learning field.

The 2015 Neon Elephant Award, given this year to Julie Dirksen for her book, Design for How People Learn—a book that wonderfully conveys practical, research-based wisdom through the authentic voice of an experienced instructional designer and strategist.

The 2014 Neon Elephant Award, given this year to Peter C. Brown, Henry L. Roediger III, and Mark A. McDaniel for their book, Make it Stick: The Science of Successful Learning—a book that brilliantly conveys scientific principles of learning in prose that is easy to digest, comprehensive and true in its recommendations, highly-credible, and impossible to ignore or forget.

The 2013 Neon Elephant Award, given this year to Gary Klein for his many years doing research and practice in naturalistic decision making, cognitive task analysis, and insight learning–and for reminding us that real-world explorations of human behavior are essential in enabling us to distill key insights.

The 2012 Neon Elephant Award, given this year to K. Anders Ericsson for his many years conducting research on expertise and creating a body of knowledge that has inspired many others to translate his research into recommendations for use by performance-improvement professionals.

The 2011 Neon Elephant Award, given this year to Jeroen van Merriënboer for his many years conducting research on learning and translating that research into practical models for use by learning professionals.

The 2010 Neon Elephant Award was awarded to Richard E. Clark for his many years in leading the workplace learning-and-performance field by bridging the gap between academic research and practical application.

The 2009 Neon Elephant Award was awarded to Ruth Clark for her many years in leading the workplace learning-and-performance field with research-based insights and recommendations, and—by so doing—helping to professionalize our field.

The 2008 Neon Elephant Award was awarded to Robert Brinkerhoff for developing the Success Case evaluation method and for advocating that learning professionals play a more “courageous” role in their organizations.

The 2007 Neon Elephant Award was awarded to Sharon Shrock and Bill Coscarelli for advocating against the use of memorization-level questions in learning measurement and for the use of authentic assessment items, including scenario-based questions, simulations, and real-world skills tests.

The 2006 Neon Elephant Award was awarded to Cal Wick of the Fort Hill Company for his work developing methodologies and software to support learning transfer.