Learning & Development - Learning Styles - Part III

Having got the overview of key learning principles and learning Types in my previous posts, It is of great benefit if we as learning Facilitators understand employees learning style early 
on so that learning may become easier and less stressful.

Most people learn best through a combination learning styles, but everybody is different. Although most people use a combination of the three learning styles, they usually have a clear preference for one. Let us look at 3 main types of learning styles

Auditory Learners: Hear

Auditory learners would rather listen to things being explained than read about them. Reciting information out loud and having music in the background may be a common study method. An employee with an auditory learning style learns best when information is delivered in auditory formats such as lectures, discussions, oral readings, audio recordings, or podcasts. Auditory learners do well in classroom settings where professor lectures and student discussions are the norm. These students also do well with taped courses and group study situations. 

Visual Learners: See

Visual learners learn best by looking at graphics, watching a demonstration, or reading. For them, it's easy to look at charts and graphs, but they may have difficulty focusing while listening to an explanation. An employee with a visual learning style learns best when information is presented in visual formats such as books, articles, web pages, images, videos, or diagrams. Visual learners do well with class handouts, power point presentations, movies, and chalkboards. These students take detailed notes, highlight their texts, and use flow charts for study aids. 

Kinesthetic or Tectile Learners: Touch

Kinesthetic learners process information best through a "hands-on" experience. Actually doing an activity can be the easiest way for them to learn. Sitting still while studying may be difficult, but writing things down makes it easier to understand. An employee with a tactile learning style learns best when information is conveyed in "hands-on" settings such as trade positions, labs, workshops, or participatory classes. Tactile learners respond well to touching and creating things in areas such as art and science. These students want to hold and manipulate the subject matter, rather than merely viewing an image of it.

Participants will use multiple types of learning processes during your presentation. When you use different modes of presentation (e.g., lecture, case study analysis, role playing, and discussion) and encourage active participation, you will more effectively facilitate optimal learning.

In my next post, I will touch upon Learning Effectiveness and challenges around measurement. Watch out the space!

Learning & Development - Types of Learning - Part II

In continuation of my earlier post on Learning Principles, let us now deliberate on various types of learning : 

Bloom's Taxonomy : Psychologist Benjamin Bloom developed a classification scheme for types of learning which includes three overlapping domains: cognitive, psychomotor, and affective. 

Skills in the cognitive domain, the one most relevant to faculty and administrator training include 1) knowledge - remembering information 2) comprehension - explaining the meaning of information 3) application - using abstractions in concrete situation 4) analysis - breaking down a whole into component parts  and 5) synthesis - putting parts together to form a new and integrated whole.

For example, knowing that the Right to Information Act (RTI) was passed by Indian Parliament in 2005 is knowledge. Explaining what the law means is comprehension. Application is illustrated when someone knows how to seek requisite information. Analysis is required to discuss the details of specific applications. Finally, synthesis is needed to develop future policies and procedures in response to the RTI.

Psychomotor learning is the relationship between cognitive functions and physical movement. In psychomotor learning, attention is given to the learning of coordinated activity involving the arms, hands, fingers, and feet, while verbal processes are not emphasized. Behavioral examples include driving a car, throwing a ball, and playing a musical instrument. 

The Affective domain describes learning objectives that emphasize a feeling tone, an emotion, or a degree of acceptance or rejection. While there is an emphasis that affective domain is essential for learning, but this is often overlooked as this is hardest to evaluate. Most of the learning material focus on the cognitive aspects of Bloom Taxonomy.

Tennant's A.S.K. - Professor Mark Tennant (1995) categorized types of learning in a different way. The acronym A.S.K., developed by Tennant, represents the three types of learning that occur in training:

A represents "attitude," also known as affective learning. An example of this type of learning is a shift in attitude toward the academic abilities of students with disabilities. 

S represents "skills," often called psychomotor or manual learning. Learning to operate adaptive technology is an example of the development of skills.

K represents "knowledge." Cognitive learning is the formal term used for mental skills such as recall of information. An example of knowledge is information on available resources related to disability issues.

Gardner's Seven Knowledge Types : Howard Gardner developed a theory of multiple intelligences based upon research in the biological sciences, logistical analysis, and psychology. He breaks down knowledge into seven types:
  1. Logical-mathematical intelligence: the ability to detect patterns, think logically, reason and analyze, and compute mathematical equations (e.g. chemists, economists, engineers).
  2. Linguistic intelligence: the mastery of oral and written language in self-expression and memory (e.g., journalists, lawyers, politicians).
  3. Spatial intelligence: the ability to recognize and manipulate patterns (large or small) in spatial relationships (e.g., architects, pilots, sculptors).
  4. Musical intelligence: the ability to recognize and compose musical quality (pitches, tones), and content (rhythms, patterns) for production and performance (e.g., composers, conductors, musicians).
  5. Kinesthetic intelligence: the ability to use the body, or parts of the body to create products or solve problems (e.g. athletes, dancers, surgeons).
  6. Interpersonal intelligence: the ability to recognize another's intentions, and feelings (e.g., managers, sales people, social workers).
  7. Intrapersonal intelligence: the ability to understand oneself and use the information to self-manage (e.g., entrepreneurs, psychologists).
Gardner's theory purports that people use these types of intelligence according to the type of learning that is necessary, their personal strengths and abilities, and the environment in which the learning takes place.

Different learning strategies are applied keeping in view types of learning to maximize learning ease and outcomes. In my next post, I will touch on different learning styles. Watch out the space! 

Learning & Development - Key Learning Principles - Part I

Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.Benjamin Franklin

As per Wikipedia, Learning is acquiring new, or modifying and reinforcing existing, knowledge, behaviors, skills, values, or preferences and may involve synthesizing different types of information. 

As a learning professional it is imperative that we have indepth understanding of various types of learning styles that are not only important for adult learners, however, important for students of any age. However, before dwelling on learning styles, it is imperative that we get a bit of understanding around learning principles and various types of learning.

Educational psychologists and pedagogues have identified several principles of learning which has been outlined below.

Readiness - If students have a strong purpose, a clear objective, and a definite reason for learning something, they make more progress than if they lack motivation. In other words, when students are ready to learn, they meet the instructor at least halfway, simplifying the instructor’s job.

Exercise - The principle of exercise states that those things most often repeated are best remembered. It has been proven that students learn best and retain information longer when they have meaningful practice and repetition.

Effect - The principle of effect is based on the emotional reaction of the student. The principle of effect is that learning is strengthened when accompanied by a pleasant or satisfying feeling, and that learning is weakened when associated with an unpleasant feeling. The student will strive to continue doing what provides a pleasant effect to continue learning. The instructor should set up the learning situation in such a manner that each trainee will be able to see evidence of progress and achieve some degree of success. 

Primacy - Primacy, the state of being first, often creates a strong, almost unshakable, impression. Things learned first create a strong impression in the mind that is difficult to erase. This means that what is taught must be right the first time. If, for example, a student learns a faulty technique, the instructor will have a difficult task correcting bad habits and “reteaching” correct ones.

Recency - The principle of recency states that things most recently learned are best remembered. Conversely, the further a student is removed time-wise from a new fact or understanding, the more difficult it is to remember. For example, it is fairly easy to recall a telephone number dialed a few minutes ago, but it is usually impossible to recall a new number dialed last week. The closer the training or learning time is to the time of actual need to apply the training, the more apt the learner will be to perform successfully.

Intensity - The principle of intensity implies that a student will learn more from the real thing than from a substitute. For example, a student can get more understanding and appreciation of a movie by watching it than by reading the script. Likewise, a student is likely to gain greater understanding of tasks by performing them rather than merely reading about them. The more immediate and dramatic the learning is to a real situation, the more impressive the learning is upon the student.

Freedom - The principle of freedom states that things freely learned are best learned. Conversely, the further a student is coerced, the more difficult is for him to learn, assimilate and implement what is learned. Compulsion and coercion are antithetical to personal growth. 

Requirement - The law of requirement states that "we must have something to obtain or do something." It can be an ability, skill, instrument or anything that may help us to learn or gain something. A starting point or root is needed; for example, if you want to draw a person, you need to have the materials with which to draw, and you must know how to draw a point, a line, a figure and so on until you reach your goal, which is to draw a person.

In my next posts, I will cover learning types. Watch out the space.

Workplace Dynamics Amidst Shifting Business Landscape Makes Learning Industry to Rethink its Strategies - Key Trends

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” ― Mahatma Gandhi

Learning today is in the midst of a dramatic change. Days of learning for learning’s sake are evaporating. Focusing people towards business application and deployment is now the only driver of learning. The more closely learning providers work in partnership to fulfil business strategy with measurable ROI or RoE, the more rapidly L&D will be viewed as catalysts for innovation and learning rather than course or program providers. Following trends are being witnessed in the learning and development landscape.

Gamification : The old saying that “learning can be fun” is truer today than ever before.  Instructor Led Training  (ILT) is still key…for the moment.  But it is evolving quickly toward more blended learning, where gamification and other technology enabled applications play a key role.  Gamification is about ‘game mechanics’ – taking the principles that make games addictive and applying them in a learning context – to improve retention and recollection of knowledge, better application and practice of skills, etc. Properly implemented, gamification has the potential to make learning ‘stickier’, increase uptake of learning content and also provide a more comprehensive record of learning than is possible using conventional measures in courses. 

Augmented reality (AR)  - As per Wiki, AR is a live direct or indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented (or supplemented) by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics etc. While it may take many more years to get commoditized, however, there is a lot of buzz in the industry about shaping up of learning practices leveraging Augmented Reality. 

Mobile Learning - Personalization & Customization - Be it the phone, or tablet, mobile devices are changing the game of learning delivery and interaction and sharing. Rather than looking at how mobile is evolving, the year ahead will see organizations developing mobile approaches to facilitate learning. Through mobile we are all becoming more used to content and experiences that are tailored only to us and are managed by us too. These personalized experiences are powerful and provide huge potential for the way our learners learn.

Curating : Listen to what people are looking for, source ‘for them’ and then provide access ‘to them’. Types of Curating: Aggregation: Gathering and sharing relevant information, Filtering: Apply criteria and share information, Mashups: Taking two stories and creating a new story. Digital Curation: means that everyone can curate, everyone is sharing. L&D has a big role to play in the balancing of opening the channels and monitoring the quality within the channels.

Use of multimedia and open education resources : Digital media, YouTube videos such as TED talks or the Khan Academy, and, increasingly, open educational resources (OERs) in the form of short lectures, animations, simulations, or virtual worlds enable professors and students to access and apply knowledge in a wide variety of ways. 

Learning through/via Social media –  social media technologies have enabled us to communicate and share at a completely different speed and on a different scale . Social media can also be utilized to train or assess skills.

Skills training Vs Knowledge training (Focus on How and not Why) Emergence of experiential learning through games, simulations, theatres, “learning by doing”

Video based learning: The two biggest motivational factors driving video-based learning are Learner engagement and interesting blended/virtual learning .YouTube/ Ted Talk etc continues to enhance its user experience with developments such as in video polling and clickable links

Hybrid Learning: closer integration of classroom and online teaching under the generic term of hybrid learning, where classroom time is reduced but not eliminated, with the rest of the time being used for online learning.

As we see, ‘gen Z’, the generation born after millennials would rapidly enter the workplace and by 2020 they would make up the bulk of the working population. These ‘digital natives’ tend to behave differently from those who came before them. They are less concerned about privacy, share openly, and are mostly mobile. It makes sense to leverage these characteristics to assist learning, possibly through gamification.

Make Sure Problem Do Exist Before Working Hard To Solve It...

"Whatever failures I have known, whatever errors I have committed, whatever follies I have witnessed in public and private life, have been the consequences of action without thought." — Bernard Baruch
Alex who was working on a specific project got bogged down when he found that one of the senior person in the organisation has escalated the problem on which he was working on. The senior person did not realize the impact and blissfully thought that in the pursuit of excellence and acceleration, he is doing a favour to the organization. In fact, by not understanding the ground level details and shooting out note did consume avoidable time of leadership which could have been well spent on the progressive realization of worthy goals that organization is pursuing as he could not have done anything beyond what was being done. Alex also felt let down and demotivated.

This reminds me of a famous story which goes as follows : 

One fine day, a bus driver went to the bus garage, started his bus, and drove off along the route. No problems for the first few stops, a few people got on, a few got off, and things went generally well. At the next stop, however, a big hulk of a guy got on. Six feet eight, built like a wrestler, arms hanging down to the ground. He glared at the driver and said, "Big John doesn't pay!" and sat down at the back. 

The driver was five feet three, thin, and basically meek... Naturally, he didn't argue with Big John, but he wasn't happy about it. The next day the same thing happened -Big John got on again, said "Big John doesn't pay!" and sat down. And the next day, and the one after that, and so forth.

This irritated the bus driver, who started losing sleep over the way Big John was taking advantage of his size.Finally he could stand it no longer. He signed up for body building program, karate, judo and all that good stuff. By the end of the summer, he had become quite strong; So on the next Monday, when Big John got on the bus and said, "Big John doesn't pay!" the driver stood up, glared back and screamed, "And why not?"

With a surprised look on his face, Big John replied, "Big John has a Bus pass."

Alex story is not just an exception, however, it happens in many organizations. At times what baffles me in the corporate world is in the name of collaboration, taking people along performance get compromised and we tend to lose precious commodity that is time. At times to touch a tree which is just few inches away, you need to do a lot of dance around it before touching it which increases the lead time which could have been avoided.

We should keep this story in mind and make sure that there is a problem that exists before working hard to solve it. This will save hell lot of time for the organization.


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