A blogy about Andragogy…..(it’s an adult learning thing)

the-learning-loop-3I very recently attended a  Learning Loop event delivered by Krystyna Gadd (I’d highly recommend it) and it’s really made me think about something in particular…

What’s different about how we learn as adults compared to when we were nippers? Is there anything different?

I’ve pondered this for years. And particularly so after observing a family member’s experience of taking on a Higher Education course.This family member (let’s call her Audrey to protect the innocent), at the time was taking on the daunting mission of doing a degree level course to further her career, as well as holding down a very demanding full time role and running a household with accompanying kids and other trimmings.

Now Audrey, I’m sure she won’t mind me saying, isn’t your naturally academic type. I say this with all due respect, as I am also not the type to take to that ‘study’ thing easily. This doesn’t mean we’re not good at it, but perhaps we’re both more inclined to learn from experience and real life. And therein lies the point. Which we’ll come back to in a mo…..

Back to Audrey’s experience. She’s at University doing all the expected stuff; attending lectures, writing assignments, reading books, endlessly regurgitating references, quotes, theories, models… All pretty one-dimensional if you ask me. Then to add to this ‘flat’ way of studying, there seemed to be little in the way of learning support. On asking a tutor to clarify an element on a task, the response she got was in the realms of, “Well if you don’t know the answer to that yourself, then you shouldn’t be here”.

I was suitably outraged; raving on about how a learning/teaching professional should know better. How the fact that the learners are adults shouldn’t mean that their experience shouldn’t be enjoyable and multi-faceted. I found it very hard to swallow.

The Learning Loop - 18So ever since, it’s made me think; Why don’t we apply the same principles with adult learning as we do with children’s learning?  Do our brains really change so much that we suddenly become more comfortable with theory and reading and tell, tell, tell as opposed to playing, testing, multi-sensory experiencing?

The answer, it seems, is both yes and no. Cue, Krys’s Learning Loop……Enter Andragogy and Pedagogy. No, these are not characters in Welsh mythology. Simply put, Andragogy is about the principles of adult learning and Pedagogy is about kids’ learning.There IS a difference between how we learn as adults versus kids.

Here’s very briefly why(from Malcolm Knowles Andragogy)

  • Adults are more self-directed and self-evaluating and also able to assess progress or learning gaps
  • As we age, we naturally acquire experience which we tap into as a resource when learning
  • Adults learn in context of what’s real to them and rationalise or judge the learning based on that reality

We encourage children to play in order to learn. Isn’t there something in that when we consider adult learning?I’m not saying we all need to start kicking around in sandpits, getting play-doh in our hair or raiding the dressing up box (although that all sounds pretty fun to me). For me, this is exactly where Accelerated Learning comes in. Done well, it gives us the opportunity to enrich the learning experience. To test and play around with things. To put them in context of our reality. To hear, see and feel the learning.

FacilitatorOne of the 5 Secrets that Krystyna reveals in her Learning Loop is to be a FACILITATOR as opposed to a traditional TRAINER. For me this really resonates. Facilitating learning is very different from being someone who’s just imparting knowledge. It’s about providing an interactive, brain-friendly, varied environment where people are able discover and create learning.  I’ve always seen my role as giving people the best, most appealing opportunity possible to learn and stretch themselves. That means learners can then choose how much they’d like to put in, and therefore gain from the experience.

And that is exactly why Accelerated Learning is so effective. It seeks to make the experience valuable, high impact and lasting. It enables us to create the learning for ourselves in a way that MEANS something to us and that we can APPLY. 

 

Less bravery L&D and more curiosity I say!

A wPeople - 65hile ago I wrote a series of blogs with a tag of “Being Brave”  but after an LPI meeting this week for Learning Provider Connect, I have had a chance to rethink this “bravery”.

It occurred to me that the minute you start speaking about being brave, to some people it may have the effect of making them fearful. That this very encouragement, could have the opposite effect and instigate that “paralysis” we sometimes experience when we are afraid.

What I have encouraged in the past, is for L&D to be brave and to:

  • Ask more questions
  • Dig deeper and find out more about the organisation
  • Don’t take at face value what the stakeholders see as “facts” – questiPeople - 66on it all!

So what I am proposing, is not in fact bravery, but curiosity! A real nosiness about what is happening, not happening, on the horizon etc.

So what would that look like?

Here is a scenario, that happens all too often:

Stakeholder to trainer: Hi, we need some training fast and lets put everyone though it!

Trainer to Stakeholder: Sure I can help, just tell me what you want

Following this might ensue some conversations about the who, what, when and where, but what I am suggesting is an alternative.

“Adopt an air of curiosity”

Stakeholder to trainer: Hi, we need some training fast and lets put everyone though it!

Trainer to Stakeholder: That’s interesting, I wonder if I could just have 10 minutes of your time to dig deeper to help you solve your problem and to come up with a solution that has measurable impact?

Stakeholder to trainer: That sounds interesting…. yes of course I can do it now…

Trainer to Stakeholder: So tell me more about what has been happening, I am really interested to know what has prompted this request?

To me the second scenario does not take bravery, but curiosity. So go on L&D get nosey! Find out more about what is going on behind the scenes.  Ask questions… then ask more questions until you really find out what is at the bottom of it. Who knows what you will uncover?

 

Make it real – use your senses….. Guest Blog by Stella Collins

 

search.jpgI am very pleased to introduce to you, (drum roll…..) Stella Collins, author of “Neuroscience for L&D” and Creative Director of Stellar Learning. Stella knows lots of great practical stuff about the brain that can help people to learn better, with more retention and in this blog will be discussing the use of your senses! Stella’s brain friendly approach fits in perfectly with our approach using the 5 secrets of accelerated learning, where the 5th secret is about the brain and how it learns the best. So here are Stella’s thoughts……

Make it real – use your senses!

The Learning Loop - 18Do you ever read or hear something which makes you almost feel you’d been there yourself?  Then there are other times when you hear or read something and whilst you know all the words make sense and  the language is clear, somehow you just don’t quite ‘get it’- it seems a bit abstract, flat, hard to get a handle on?

Perhaps it’s because the abstract information isn’t rich enough for you to get a concrete, textural, sonorous, colourful, vibrant vision of the information.  Perhas there just isn’t quite enough going on in your brain to make it real and you’re relying on using your energy hungry pre-frontal cortex to analyse it.

When information comes to us directly through our senses we have a rich, complex mixture of information spreading throughout our brains.  I once heard we receive over 2 billion bits of information a second.  You have a visual cortex, auditory cortex, motor cortex,  an olfactory bulb for a sense of smell and part of your parietal lobe to process taste allowing a rich body of information to be processed throughout  your brain.  But when information is like this – just words – there is no direct sense  associated with them (just like in this sentence).  Which makes it harder for you or your audience to comprehend because there’s nothing very tangible to process.

There’s now research to back up what great speakers and writers have always known – using language that paints a picture, rings true or feels solid is making your brain work almost as if the sensory information is really there; which literally makes it easier to make sense of.

Researchers tested  what happened in subjects’ brains when they were touching rough textures like sandpaper.  They saw that specific parts of the brain were stimulated  when people feel texture in the real world.  Next they asked subjects to listen to short sentences containing textural metaphors such as ‘a rough day’ or ‘a slimy person’ and found that the same brain areas were activated.

So if you’re  training or sharing information use metaphors, stories, sensory based language because it’s really creating extraordinary sensations  in your audience’s head.  They will grasp your meaning, see your point or hear you out more easily – and remember it for longer too.

Reference: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3318916/

Measure at all costs?

IMG_2532Measuring stuff in L&D is good and I am an advocate of using data to inform your decision making as well as demonstrating your worth. So is it a case of just measuring everything and it’s bound to be useful? For anyone who knows us and our approach, you know the answer to that already!

Here is what measurement I know happens already, in many places:

  • Number of people completed training, either face to face or online
  • Test scores from online quizzes
  • Amount of time taken for elearning and “engagement” during learning
  • Number of “no-shows” on courses
  • Number of training hours per year company wide

My question is “Does any of this help to improve performance?” The answer may be that sometimes training is not a performance issue but a compliance issue. The training has to be done, so we need to know how many hours we complete per year and do it in the most efficient way. Fair enough! If you have to do the training, make sure it’s effective and done in the most efficient way to not waste money.

What about measuring all these things when it’s related to performance? I can see value in this only if a good analysis has been done beforehand to:

  • Rule out issues that cannot be solved by training (poor systems, processes or lack of resources etc)
  • Identify the right stakeholders to work with, who will support you and put measures in place to measure the effectiveness
  • Determine the organisational outcomes that need to be met, with the appropriate stakeholders providing resources and support
  • Define learning outcomes that are geared towards improving performance and are both observable and measurable
  • Put in place follow up by line managers before the learning starts and performers know what they are going to get out of the learning before they attend

This sort of “joined-up” L&D, makes learning everyone’s responsibility and it also means that measurement is not just L&D’s responsibility.  It means that “learners” are transformed into “performers”. It means that those measures listed at the top of the page could be used to inform which methods have had the most engagement (not that that is always an indicator for success!)It would be wrong, I believe to suggest that good engagement with one successful cohort will guarantee the same success in another cohort.

To my thinking, any suggestion that there could be some sort of permanent link between engagement and performance misses the point entirely. In a closed system like a chemical plant, where putting in the same chemicals at the same rate with the same process can produce expected, achievable results. Learning is not however a closed system: the variables are always changing as are the participants and the influences on their behaviour. The true measure, in my opinion has to be what measurable differences the learning has made to the performance of an individual. How have customer complaints reduced? Income increased? Sales boosted? A one time analysis is not the answer because things change. So analyse, plan, implement and measure, then round again to make sure you are capturing the “now” and not the “yesterday”.

So am I in L&D Narnia, expecting the impossible? Measuring the unmeasurable? Quite simply, I believe that before investing in learning and merely measuring “engagement” dig, dig and dig deeper to find out what is missing and what you will need to learn and do to make changes. Keep asking why? Until you have some sensible answer other than “why not?”

What is the difference between a trainer and a facilitator?

190216_Kirsty_0411 Logo-Light-BkI have great pleasure to introduce the lovely Kirsty Lewis of the School of Facilitation as a guest blogger. She is an expert in facilitation and so I thought it would be cool if she gave us her take on what it means to be a facilitator rather than a trainer (the second of the 5 secrets of accelerated learning)

 

What is the difference between a trainer and a facilitator?

This was the questions posed to me by Krystyna Gadd earlier this week and it got me thinking, is there a difference?  What is it?  What are the different skills, behaviours even beliefs that the two roles have?

Here are some simple definitions:

A trainer =’a person who trains a person or an animal’

A facilitator = ‘a person who makes an action or process easier or easy’

Trainers often have more knowledge than the learner, have a pre-prepared agenda, hold a clear path to be followed, use exercises to enable the learners to connect with the content and grow their knowledge.  There may be a test to check understanding

A facilitator is not a content or knowledge expert, they hold the space for the group to evolve and grow through a topic or question they are examining.  A facilitator will know how to move a group through the decision-making processes, will enable problem solving and intervene when appropriate.

A quote I found suggests:

“A trainer brings the participants from unknown to known. A facilitator brings the participants from known to unknown.”

This resonated for me as there are times I am in training mode (when running coaching and sales workshops) and other times I am holding a space for a group to discover something new (at the SOF gatherings).  Is there a space and place when we have both hats and they are interchangeable?  In this day and age of learning, creating motivating and engaging events I believe there is a place for both capabilities.

I noticed I shifted inside when I started to facilitate.  I learnt to trust the process I had designed.  I listened to my intuition, the signals I received from the energy in the room to move the group.  One of my biggest surprises was that I had to hold the outcomes lightly.  No longer could I grasp these tightly in my hand and say this is what will happen.  I have learnt to craft the sessions outcomes, use them as a guide and then let them go to hover in the space as the facilitated session unfolds.

Here are my thoughts about some of the skills, behaviours and beliefs for a facilitator:

Skills

  • Creating a container that is safe, enables people to express their ideas and opinions, learn
  • Fantastic questioning skills to create engagement and probe understanding
  • Listen to what is and isn’t said
  • Sense into the energy of the group to adjust, move or continue
  • Innately understand people ie EQ
  • Decent flipchart creations!

Behaviours & Beliefs

  • Open and curious to what is
  • Adaptable
  • A deep belief in what they do
  • A passion for their role in the room

I think there are common skills, behaviours and beliefs that both roles share.  If you are starting to shift your way of working and become more facilitative maybe think about what you already do as a trainer think about how you can transfer these into the new setting of facilitation.

Facilitator

The 2nd of my 5 secrets of accelerated learning – double click to see more detail

 

Classroom training is pants…. (well not always but sometimes)

lucy-hayward copyIt is such a pleasure to have Lucy Hayward, one of our associates as a guest blogger again. She is an expert in a number of areas, but has been doing some work in Performance Management recently so I thought it would be cool if she gave us her take on the subject. Of course she had to mention pants!!

 

Classroom Training is PANTS!!! (Well not always, but sometimes.)Pictures - 61

 Hang on a minute, before I talk myself out of a job – please let me explain…..

Recently I’ve been facilitating some workshops on Performance Management. The workshops look at the whole process from recruitment through to conducting formal reviews and uses drama based learning to bring it to life. Lots of fun to facilitate and very informative for the managers involved!

Once we’ve worked through setting clear and measurable objectives and get to the section about “Supporting Performance and Development”. The thing that continues to surprise me, is that no matter how experienced or forward thinking the managers are. They are still relying on scheduled classroom training as the go-to for all learning and development requests from their staff.

But what happens when this “one size fits all” approach of prescribing training doesn’t work or what if there’s just no budget for classroom training?

From listening to the manager’s responses, this usually means their teams don’t receive the development they require. Staff engagement and morale take a bit of a dive, their individual performance dives with it and the overall department ends up at risk of not hitting target!

Granted, a lot of this is due to the heavy workloads and tight time constraints that today’s managers are working to and sometimes it’s just down to a lack of knowledge as to what alternative solutions are on offer!

The GOOD NEWS is there are loads of GREAT ALTERNATIVE LEARNING SOLUTIONS!

In today’s world of Learning & Development we have so many options that can open-up the exciting world of learning to so many people.

One of the exercises we do as part of this workshop is to write down as many ways of learning you can think of in just 2 minutes…you would be amazed at how many there are!

Go on, have a go at doing it yourself…. How many did you get? 10? 20? 50?

Here’s a few to start you off (you’re very welcome). In the workshop, we get up to 90!!

  • Coaching/Mentoring
  • Lunch and Learns
  • Buddying/Peer learning groups/job shadowing/secondments
  • Writing Blogs/articles
  • On-line learning/join a forum
  • Reading/Self-study/Book clubs
  • Ted Talks/Pod casts
  • YouTube videos
  • Delegating tasks & projects
  • Action Learning Sets
  • Seminars/conferences/networking

How many of these do managers know about and how many do they make available to their staff on a regular basis?

So, the question I want to ask you all is…

When it comes to Performance Management and getting the best out of your teams is the traditional classroom offering always the answer to development requests?

Sometimes Yes, absolutely it is… I’m a facilitator who passionately believes in the benefits of trainer led workshops. I use accelerated learning techniques to ensure they’re linked directly to the organisational needs, they’re results focused and enjoyable for the individual learners. I love my job and the feedback I receive from individuals and organisations lets me know I’m doing it well!

But as managers, you can take control and explore the other (sometimes more cost effective) options. Try creating a learning culture within your teams and encouraging your staff to book an hour out of their day to study! Allowing your teams to access learning materials online so they can take ownership and responsibility for their own learning and development. Empowerment is the key!

Who knows it could take off and spread across the whole organisation…

 

Imagine if ….. #4

llapproach-copyThis is the approach that we take at How to Accelerate Learning. Many other people do too (without calling it that!). In this blog series we will be looking at each of the 6 parts of the Learning Loop approach. So imagine …. what if, YOU were to take this approach:

Number 4: A good needs analysis leads to a solid evaluation and appropriate design:

My first degree is in Chemical Engineering and Fuel Technology and it is safe to say, that I would never have embarked on any project without finding out EXACTLY what was required. There would be detailed specifications and at any point, we would know if the project was falling short.

Symbols - 34So it has surprised me in L&D how many organisations  do not do a needs analysis before committing resources to a learning programme. So firstly let me explain what each part of this step means and then outline the benefits:

 

 

“A good needs analysis….”

This goes beyond just speaking to the sponsor and could include:

  • Multiple perspectives from other stakeholders (a triangulation approach even?)
  • Data gathering from different sources
  • Analysis and presentation of the information to the relevant stakeholders
  • Conclusions that give a fuller picture of how this relates to the organisation and any benefits that may be realised in solving the problem

The benefits this would bring are:

  • Stakeholders that know L&D will dig deeper, beyond any superficial problems, hence a better reputation
  • A more targeted solution, which may not include learning (if not needed)

“….a solid evaluation…”

This means an evaluation that is measurable and the measures are of interest to the stakeholders. Hence these measures ARE measured!!

The benefits of this are self-evident; L&D are then partners and consultants, not just the vendors of learning. They work with departments to design and deliver solutions that have impact and measurable results

“… appropriate design”

This means that the design of the solution takes into account:

  • Budget
  • Other resources
  • Availability
  • Timing
  • The people attending and their needs

The benefits of this would be, of course less money wasted and also an solutions given in a timely fashion.

Would you like to more about this approach? Then you have some choices:

Is accelerated learning applicable to online learning?

the-learning-loop-3So David Wallace, asked me this question, as he is familiar with my work and was wondering how the “5 Secrets of Accelerated Learning” apply to the online arena. My immediate response was “of course it does” and thought I should address this quickly while it is fresh in my mind.

So here is how the 5 secrets apply to the online arena:

  • Business focused and learner centred objectives – essential for ANY learning – if you know what the business needs then the webinar, live classroom or e-learning will meet those needs and be utilised. The objectives therefore always need to be explicit and what the learners can expect to be able to know or do by the end. This will give the learning credibility and also determine whether people invest the time to use it or they recommend it to others.
  • Be a facilitator not a trainer – Webinars can be an excuse for a trainer to talk into the ether, especially if it is a large group you are broadcasting to. (David told me that BT have run webinars with 1000’s of participants!). They may well think that interaction is difficult with such large numbers. However I believe that all it takes it  a shift in mindset to move from trainer to facilitator. Ask yourself “How could I stimulate thinking?” – an easy answer is to ask questions and to get people to use their imaginations. Use the chat boxes to capture any answers (you will need  host that can do that for you for large numbers). Send people worksheets where they can interact with the learning and put it into their own words. That way it will be stickier!
  • Look at all the various ways in which learners can learn – there is a temptation in online learning to use a small number of methods of delivery: presentation, video, audio, poll. Try to think beyond that small range and think of which methods from the “100 ways to learn” you could use.
  • Make the environment safe but visually appealing – feed our natural childlike curiosity  and entice the learners to learn together. Make your visuals quirky, curious and interesting. People are becoming immune to the “slickness” that PowerPoint provides and yearn for something different. Mix it up a little by using Prezi perhaps and some hand drawn images. You don’t have to be an artist to be able to draw some stick men or simple faces.

If you would like to find out more then please do:

If you are mainly involved in the online arena, I would love to hear your thoughts about the 5 secrets!

 

Imagine if …..#3

llapproach-copyThis is the approach that we take at How to Accelerate Learning. Many other people do too (without calling it that!). In this blog series we will be looking at each of the 6 parts of the Learning Loop approach. So imagine …. what if, YOU were to take this approach:

Number 3: L&D use a consultancy approach when asked to design or deliver:

 

I speak to many L&D professionals who work in a “reactive” rather than a “proactive” mode. This sometimes feels to them like they have no choice. A typical scenario may be:

img_2423

  • A stakeholder receives bad news
  • Stakeholder thinks they can fix it with some training so they call in L&D
  • Stakeholder tells L&D what they need and when
  • Stakeholder gets more bad news, when the approach is not working as planned

So when you use a consultancy approach, what might you expect? Here are a few things:

  • A detailed conversation about what the situation is that needs addressing
  • A willingness and openness to dig deeper to explore what might be happening (or not happening)
  • Less rush to the solution and more understanding about the real issues that needs to be sorted
  • A partnership approach, seeking advice and working together, rather than being told when and what to do
  • Targeted, business focussed solutions that at times may not have any training included
  • An eagerness for the stakeholder to measure the success, with responsibility for measurement being with them
  • Budgets justified, support offered and resources available

Would you like to more about this approach? Then you have some choices:

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