According to some people, different “students” have different learning styles. Some others say its not so. Who cares? That will be my question today…
Trainers have told me this time-and-again. I learnt it in a TTT class 10 years ago and I have said the same thing to TTT participants myself. I feel so ashamed!
How can this be?? Is it really possible that of the 7 billion people currently alive on planet Earth that there are only 4 learning styles? Common sense knows this is wrong.
Hypothesis N° 2 = There are more than 7 billion learning styles
When I was a boy, my mother used to tell me “You are special”. The idea that “No human being is the same as another” is currently fueling the strengths-movement (read @mwbuckingham ). What can it do for the learning world?
If we believe in Hypothesis N°1, then every time we design a learning initiative, we need to either know exactly which learning style participants have (and adapt to that) or we need to include something for everyone.
If we believe in Hypothesis N°2 and the principle of adapting learning approach to learning style, we are potentially in BIG TROUBLE!
Hypothesis N°3 = It really doesn’t matter
This is my idea today, fresh from my morning shower. And its simple:
- Learning = acquisition + implementation of required competences
- Competence = knowledge, skills, attitude
- There may be 7 billion ways that people like to acquire and implement knowledge, skills and attitude…
- …BUT THIS DOESN’T MATTER IN THE REAL WORLD
Solution –> Don’t adapt your learning initiatives to learning styles, adapt to the working reality of the people
I think the challenge for learning professionals is not to worry about adapting their learning initiatives to the learning styles of different people. Companies don’t adapt their working reality to those styles. PEOPLE have to ADAPT TO the working REALITY in which they find themselves.
What is the job of a learning professional? To help people become and stay good at the stuff they need to do. How can this be done in line with Hypothesis N°3 ?
- Focus on the stuff people need to do
- Help them to adapt themselves to their reality
- Supply real-time real-world workflow learning opportunities
- In training, put them in Authentic Learning situations
Thanks for reading
Follow me on Twitter (today I will start naming the 7 billion learning styles 🙂 )
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Nothing annoys me more as a trainee than sitting in training listening to everyone say what THEY think of something before the trainer gives the “right answer” or whatever answer will be used as a common framework for the next 2 hours…
Why do trainers do that? If there ISN’T a right answer, then I can agree its worth sharing people’s attitudes. But if there IS, please just get to the point!
If you are interested in the Authentic Learning principle that we shouldn’t get things in the classroom that can be found OUT of the classroom, then this simple SoMe proposal might interest you:
- Prior to training, make a survey using a tool like www.surveymonkey.com *
- Ask future participants to share in advance their ideas on a given topic. For example: What do you understand by the word “motivation”? or “What are the key elements of effective teamwork?”
- Prior to training, merge these answers into your training materials (PPT, workbook, whatever you have…)
- In training, show (quickly) the answers you already got and move onto what will be used as your framework in training
* As advice, I would note that if you are doing this a lot, upgrading your surveymonkey account is well worth the investment in saved admin time…
Another better more social option
- Use LinkedIn, Facebook, Yammer or some other platform to ask the same questions.
- Invite future participants to join a group and discuss a point in advance
- That way people will already see the answers from other trainees before getting to the room…
This SoMe solution is good for time-saving in training and to allow you to focus on more ROI-yeilding activities. I don’t say discussion is bad, but sitting listening to others for NO reason IS bad.
This blog-post outlines a practical example of how social media tools could be used during and after training. If you have questions, send me an email…
What is the added-value of using social media for training?
- Improve understanding and retention of what was discussed in training
- Keep the learning process alive by creating longevity
- Provide additional references to your participants, this concentrating on Authentic Learning whilst in the training room
- Drive traffic to your blog site/Twitter account, thus improving your network reach
- Learn more stuff yourself (as a trainer)
How this idea started
- Following the @KluwerOpleiding #KluSome Trainer’s Lounge there was some discussion on our LinkedIn group about how to best profit from social media in training
- A discussion group member posted this film from @Tedtalks
- Another group member (trainer) used that film in training as an icebreaker to discussion on eNetworking
- I was asked for advice on how to best integrate more social media in the training…
What I suggested to the trainer in question…
Write a blog page outlining the discussion held during training
- This could be interesting for other people online who want to hear opinions about eNetworking
- An example of such a blog post can be found here (not about eNetworking)
- On that blog page, embed the original movie …or better yet, link it to a personal YouTube channel like this one
- Add some additional references that you have found that might add to what was already said (as on the blog noted above)
Create a group on LinkedIn
- This could be about eNetworking or about the overall training topic you were training on…
- Connect to training participants on LinkedIn
- Invite them to join the LinkedIn group
Start a conversation on the LinkedIn group
- Put in the link to your blog-post, inviting people to comment either on the blog or the LinkedIn group …this could be done immediately or for better longevity X weeks after training is completed
- Tweet something about your blog-page
- Email participants to let them know about the blog-page/LinkedIn group, rather than using direct LinkedIn invitations
- Add your blog-post as a comment on another page about networking
I hope this helps. I will add other practical examples of using SoMe to add-value to training.
Thanks for reading
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In the film “The Guardian” with Kevin Costner, there is a nice example of Authentic Learning which highlights the Minimum Effective Dose principle I wrote about in my initial blog post on the subject.
Costner’s character Randall is due to teach the effects of hypothermia to students of the US Coast Guard “A” school. At class time, his colleagues eventually track him down not in the classroom, but in the swimming pool. Randall is seen shovelling ice into an extremely cold small pool. Everyone is shivering away; to the side, one student is doing CPR on a test-dummy.
Randall’s commanding officer calls him out of the pool and asks: “Why wasn’t I informed of this? You know, we have classrooms.” … adding “Your assignment is to simply teach the stages of hypothermia”
Randall replies (with a shiver): “Sir …. in about 2 and a half minutes, they’ll understand”
Understanding is not knowing, or being able to recite the facts. Understanding is understanding. Teaching Coast Guard swimmers the facts in a classroom does not deliver the Minimum Effective Dose for understanding hypothermia. This Authentic Learning approach does.
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As 2011 closes and we gear up for another 12 month run of learning, what will be the focus for learning professionals? In my opinion, 2012 will be all about Authentic Learning. This blog spot outlines the what and why of Authentic Learning. Let’s start with…
Question: Why is Authentic Learning so important?
Answer: Because of the increased demand for value-for-money and a low bullshit-threshold
- In Belgium, people are talking about part 2 of the economic crisis. We finally have a government and this means tightening money-belts. Other countries may not have had the same political issues, but the financial issues are much the same. The impact for business will be the increasing demand for value for money. Return on Investment is a given. No ROI, no contract. In 2012, clients will just want more.
- Our current Gen-Y culture is infecting people of all ages with some very cool values like freedom, autonomy and choice. These new drivers are seriously lowering what I call the bullshit-threshold and this will have an impact on learning initiatives as well.
Question: What is Authentic Learning all about?
Answer: Effective, pragmatic and true learning opportunities
- Effective learning does what it promises. This means that learning professionals cannot stop at creating competence. They need to create results. For example, training designed to help new leaders motivate their teams doesn’t just deliver knowledge, skills and attitude –> it creates motivation!
- Pragmatic learning is to-the-point lean learning. This means that learning initiatives must deliver the minimum effective dose (MED) of whatever stuff is required to get those effective learning results. In my opinion, MED is the guiding effectiveness principle of the 21st century. If I need X, don’t give me Y. And if X is enough, don’t give me 2X !!
- True learning is aligned to the business environment, values and learning participants. The one-size-fits-all attitude to learning is no longer acceptable. Organisations and people have always been different and learning professionals have known this for a long time. But are they really using this to make learning true? The granularity principle in learning will mean that people must be able to get what they need when they need it in the way they like it.
In my own case, here is how I will be focusing on Authentic Learning in 2012:
- Step 1 = Agree simple honest performance objectives with no-bullshit measurements of success
- Step 2 = If people give me a day of their time for training, make sure they get something in the room that they can’t get out of the room
- Step 3 = Treat every learning moment as a first-time experience, dropping all ego and assumptions in order to choose what is right for the business, values and people at that time
I would love to have your comments 🙂
Good luck in 2012,
See you there!