Home > Best Practices > What’s the Kardashian Rating of Your Learning Content?

What’s the Kardashian Rating of Your Learning Content?

A few months ago, I wrote a blog post titled “`No Pain, No Gain’ Belongs in the Gym, Not in Learning and Development Departments.” This has become one of our most popular posts.  A significant number of visits to that article have been referred to by search engines. Apparently, if you Google “no pain no gain gym,” this article appears high up in the rankings, in the coveted number five spot.

To all the weightlifters and strength trainers who have been inadvertently directed to this site and found themselves reading about learning management technology: there was never an intent to deceive you and waste your valuable workout time.

To all the gyms in the world, Blatant Media is not your competitor. Really, we aren’t. We’re a software company.

Now that that’s cleared up, let’s move on to today’s post on the topic of learner engagement.

Kim Kardashian, inspiration for a new unit of attention measurement. Attribution : © Glenn Francis, http://www.PacificProDigital.com

Most of the information related to learner engagement I’ve read in my 25+ years as a learning professional has focused on how to increase it. Popular suggestions include:

  • Keep lessons short
  • Serve bite-size chunks of learning content
  • Give learners the freedom to jump around in the content
  • Give learners a way to quickly find what they want
  • Include learning games
  • Include social learning activities
  • Etc.

Although there are many strategies to increase engagement, there’s remarkably little on the subject of measuring engagement.

Ethan Zuckerman, a Blogger and researcher at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University, has proposed a solution. In his post titled “An idea worth at least 40 nanoKardashians of your attention,” Mr. Zuckerman suggests the establishment of a new unit, the Kardashian, as a measure of attention. To be clear, this is not a measure of quality, but rather…

[the] Kardashian is an exemplar of attention disconnected from merit, talent or reason. The Kardashian mentions how much attention is paid, not how much attention is deserved…

An obvious way to apply the idea of Kardashian units to learning and development would be through Kirkpatrick level 1 evaluations. Learners could be asked, for instance:

Which best describes your experience with this learning content?

  • I was totally in the zone. The rest of the world ceased to exist. I lost track of time. (High Kardashian)
  • I made it through the content but had to use willpower and the reward of eating a piece of chocolate once completed. (Mid Kardashian)
  • I checked Facebook and Twitter every two minutes. I couldn’t help myself.  (Low Kardashian)
  1. Jim Perry
    May 25, 2012 at 3:14 pm

    I love how Kardashian is a tag for this article. This may also assist your seo rankings!

  2. Richard Nantel
    May 25, 2012 at 3:58 pm

    Jim, I don’t know what you’re talking about. Are you suggesting that I’m attempting to increase traffic by shamelessly filling posts with the names of celebrities? The Kardashian is a legitimate unit of measurement that can be applied to a wide range of topic areas. 😉

    By the way, the inventor of the Kardashian unit, Ethan Zuckerman, mentions that there’s also a unit called the “Jolie,” named after high-profile celebrity Angelina Jolie. “A Jolie is unit that denotes the amount of international aid a country receives when it becomes the cause celebre of a prominent celebrity.”

  3. May 29, 2012 at 4:20 am

    I’m afraid to know what the Bieber index measure…

    In all seriousness, this is a solid post. It would be interesting to know how one’s score on the Kardashian scale related to achievement of learning objectives. Could one actually be getting smarter the higher their Kardashian units are?

  4. Richard Nantel
    May 29, 2012 at 4:38 pm

    Sprucelearning: I can’t imagine what type of unit of measurement a Bieber would be. It occurred to me, though, that, given her amazing ability to take on new roles convincingly, a “Streep” could be a good unit to measure change.

    Regarding your second point, it’s important to remember that a Kardashian is a unit to measure attention, not a measure of content quality. So technically, the content could be horrible at helping people learn something but really really addictive.

    One example would be a CPR course taught by naked instructors.

  5. May 30, 2012 at 7:58 pm

    That would be more of a streak rather than Streep measurement Richard. How ‘bought a Lohan measurement to gauge dynamic thinking?

    What I was thinking is that if the content and facilitation was killer, how could you foster the Kardasian measurement to your advantage to enhance learning, more than a just a moment of unrelated (albeit fun) engagement. Maybe that’s more the point though – pockets of fun that create connection and (hopefully) positive learning environments, less about learning more about people.

    • Richard Nantel
      May 31, 2012 at 1:17 pm

      I recall reading in Dr. John Medina’s excellent book, Brain Rules, that research indicates that 10 minutes is just about the maximum amount of time people can pay attention in a lecture. After 10 minutes, attention begins to fade. So, when teaching, he’d intersperse a joke or odd comment every ten minutes to regain his audience’s attention. So, learning could be structured to have high Kardashian interludes between the actual content. The Kardashian content itself doesn’t need to contribute to learning, it simply acts as a nudge to pull people back from reverie.

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