A little provocative I know, but for years I have been hearing that face-to-face learning is dead and the simple fact is, that it’s doing well. It’s alive and kicking!
This is borne out by Towards Maturity report “L&D where are we now 2017 -2018” where 4/5 soft skills courses are still delivered face to face. In fact what surprised me was that of the statistics around technology in learning, there were no figures over 35% to say technology has visible benefits. So why the provocative title? Am I biased towards face to face?
The simple answer is no, BUT I recognise the huge value it can bring and the buzz it can create. WE are after all human and there is really nothing that can recreate the excitement and buzz the right face to face intervention can create. What I hate to see is L&D’s rush to the latest fad, thinking that this will:
- Save money
- Improve performance
- Get the results we need
In reality the latest fad, is just that and what I favour is a more pragmatic approach rather than a huge investment in some technology that may not deliver on the hype and promises. That is not to say that we should not use the latest and shiniest. My concerns are often around investment versus return, especially for the voluntary, public and not-for-profit sectors. Can they really afford to invest in some of the latest when there is no guarantee they will deliver?
So, what am I suggesting? Here are a few things:
- Analyse the needs carefully so you get an accurate picture of what is required – this will put it into the knowledge, skills and attitudinal learning categories as well as what level of learning (see Blooms taxonomy) – will it need to be in the moment, hard wired or semi-permanent?
- Look at how to build up the learning, not in a one-time only event (unless that is ok) but maybe overlapping and layering of the learning, interweaving skills and knowledge
- Choose from the 100 ways to learn and create a blend that will make the learning interesting and engaging. People can then choose one or all of the activities. The activities could, if appropriate build up the learning. See the example below:
Learning about the 5 secrets of Accelerated Learning on the Learning Loop:
- Participants read an article in the pre-work a few weeks before in the LNA email, finding out needs and objectives of participants
- Participants get to watch a short video summarising the 5 secrets in the last-minute email
- On the workshop, there are posters and resources on the 5 secrets around the room
- During the game – there will always be a question to “Describe the 5 secrets of Accelerated Learning” – which is a higher level of learning than “List the 5 Secrets of Accelerated Learning”
- One group does a teach back to help everyone remember what the 5 Secrets are and how to apply them
Back to the title then…. AI, eLearning, VR, and face to face are not dead. They are, as is face-to-face, simply some of the tools that you can keep in your toolbox so that you can choose the most appropriate method. Just as these days PowerPoint has been overdone, lets not overdo the new ones. If we mix up the tools we use, then we create a variety for the learners that will keep them engaged. What are your thoughts?
There is more and more pressure on L&D to do more with less. So do you struggle to keep up with the demands of the business? Do you wonder how to prioritise all the things you have been tasked to do and wonder how you will actually design things that are more than just fit for purpose?
If you have answered “yes” to any of these questions you will probably be feeling pressured right now, so here are a few things you can do to help:
It’s not an intentional thing, more accidental, that we have called ourselves “Trainers of trainers”. It is something that people understand, but I feel now it is no longer appropriate due to:
• The changing role of L&D and professionals
• The emerging “New Learning Organisation**” as defined by Jane Daly and Laura Overton from Towards Maturity
• We actually don’t just train trainers in how to train! (It is so much more!)
So what do we do? We help organisations, line managers, teams and individuals to:
• Have a strategic outlook when considering how people will learn to improve performance
• Learn how to engage with stakeholders and leverage them when looking for support and resources
• Be curious and dig deeper to find out underlying issues to find out what is needed
• To choose a complimentary blend of opportunities to help people improve their performance (#100ways2learn)
• Use accelerated learning principles so that the learning is sticky
• Be agile and fast
• Use a facilitative approach when doing any learning interventions rather than traditional trainer-led methods
• Build a cohesive learning community that benefits the whole organisation
• Open up to new ways of doing things
• Be motivated and inspired enough to have a go
Our open and in-house workshops do much more than “train” in the skills and knowledge required to become a new learning leader, for the new learning organisation. Through unique and innovative practices we have seen teams:
- Have a mind-set shift in their thinking about how they approach learning
- Become more cohesive a team in their approach to improving performance
- Be inspired to make a real and measurable difference to the organisation by helping people learn how to improve their performance
**To compliment the “New Learning Organisation” we have developed our first draft on the “New Learning Leader”:
The visual is above but the detail is below:
- Has clarity of purpose
- Business focused but also learner centred
- Strategically focused to deliver what the organisation needs
- Curious and analytical
- Able to engage stakeholders in order to leverage essential resources and achieve the ROI required
- In tune with what the organisation needs
- Helps create a holistic people experience
- Helps to nurture and encourage an environment where people are developed consistently and with heart
- Clearly defined and easy to apply models and frameworks
- Supports and nurtures a thriving ecosystem
- Knows how to encourage a learning culture
- Inspires a culture of feedback and healthy challenge
- Empowers people to learn for themselves
- In learning interventions inspires others to learn more and share
- Promotes accountability at all levels
- Agile, digitally enabled
- Digitally courageous, not scared to experiment
- Able to choose the appropriate method/media for the outcomes required
- Helps support continual engagement
- Provides appropriate learning support when it is needed
- Understands the way the brain works to help learning be engaging and focused
- Helps people make intelligent decisions
- Makes decisions informed by the organisations’ purpose
- Develops others capability in decision making by providing the appropriate tools
- Applies the latest neuroscience to help make wise decisions
- Emotionally Intelligent self-starter
- Has awareness of their own behaviours on others
- In touch with their own emotions
- Good networker
- Loves to learn
What have we missed or what could we add and to which category?
John Bersin in his article “The Growing Role of Microlearning”, published in the Chief Learning Officer (Oct 2016) says that:
“The way people want to learn today can be described in one word: fast”.
So you might think that an advocate for accelerated learning would be excited by this, but we, at How to Accelerate Learning, do consider this with an air of caution……..
Accelerated learning helps to imbed learning better and deeper because of 5 key principles:
- Business focussed and learner centred objectives
- Using a facilitative approach rather than “training”
- Using variety in design to engage the learners
- Having an environment that is conducive to learning
- Using what we know about the brain to maximise retention
Microlearning can be learning as short as 30-40 seconds, so forgive me for being a skeptic but can that work? My approach is always a pragmatic one and so as I write this I am also considering a challenge that I have been set, which could also serve as an experiment. On May 11th 2017, the Learning and Performance Institute launched a series of short videos created by me, Krystyna Gadd, Founder of How to Accelerate Learning.
The series is called “100 ways to Learn” and can be found in a number of ways:
- YouTube – watching the first video will automatically run all the videos that have now been released
- Twitter – search for the #100ways2Learn hashtag
- LinkedIn – check out the Learning and Performance Institute for the daily release around midday (GMT) every day
Sharon Bowman in her book “Brain science to make training stick” sites one of her trumps to be “Shorter trumps longer” implying that a shorter bit of learning is better than something longer. So I would love to know what impact these 30-40 second videos have had on you?
I 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!
Do 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.
So 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!