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Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

34.     Find a Buddy

Buddies are different than mentors.  A buddy is someone who is going through the same learning experience you are and who wants you to succeed.  Sharing experiences and teaching each other helps both you and your buddy learn faster.  You just have to check what you’re doing with your mentor so you aren’t just sharing bad habits.

35.     Build a peer network

This is very similar to having a buddy.  However, being able to share ideas with peers provides a greater knowledge and experience base.  Discussion boards, blogs and even text messages are a great way to build a peer network.  You can also look at the wide array of social networking sites to expand your peer network around the world.

36.     Listen to Audio Books

Hearing rather than reading a book can improve comprehension and lead to deeper understanding.  With a great reader, listening to a book or lesson gains the power of story telling.  When looking for audio books, the best readers are actors and singers.  Also, if you’re an auditory learning, this may be the easiest and fastest way to learn.

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1.     Blend Hard and Soft Skills

In most organizations hard (technical) skills and soft (people) skills are taught separately.  This is because the experts in area aren’t the same.  That’s why engineers get a bad rap about their people skills.  However on the job, employees need to be able to use all these skills at the same time.  Teaching them separately doesn’t mean students will ever be able to use them together.  A better and faster approach is to teach them together in the way they are used on the job.

2.     Skip Knowledge Tests

In the workplace you often see a difference between test scores and performance on the job.  Many people think this is due to test anxiety or poor study habits.  However, that doesn’t explain why people who do well on tests often don’t do well on the job.  That’s because the job isn’t to recall knowledge.  Even in a job like an answer line, the job is more complex and involves doing several things at the same time.  For the answer line, besides knowing the answer, the employee also needs to ask good questions, interact positively with the customer, use the computer and the phone system.  Therefore, you can cut classroom time by eliminating knowledge tests and get a better idea of what someone has learned through direct observation and feedback.

3.     No More Sink or Swim

Throwing students into the deep end works well for the swimmers.  However, it’s really hard on the sinkers.  In fact, there are usually a lot more sinkers than swimmers.  This is a very popular method for a lot of sales forces.  The training consists of here’s your desk, here’s your phone, go to it.  When you think about the cost of hiring people, this is a very expensive way of doing things.

4.     Add More Reality

The great philosopher Mike Tyson once said, “Everybody’s got a plan until they get hit.”  All the role plays, simulations and practice can go out the window when an employee faces the reality of the job.  Take a customer service rep who learns how to deal with problems in the classroom and then faces a real angry customer.  To speed up learning, it’s critical to build in these real situations.

copyright LPI 2008

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Math, history, geography, team building, sales, political science and dozens more are popularly taught topics or subjects.   If you asked the question, why is education divided into these topics, the answer is probably… it’s seems logical, it’s one way to divided up everything or it allows teachers to specialize or I don’t really know.

These are silos of knowledge and skill.  In the academic world, it makes sense to separate them because it’s easier to teach.  However, in the real world things aren’t separated like this.  What’s missing is all the connections and links between topics which makes them easier to actually use. 

A faster way to learn is to forget about topics and start to think about outcomes or what you want to be able to do.  Then work backwards across topics and subject areas to come up with a better curriculum.  For example, if you want to learn how to manage your personal finances so you can have the type of lifestyle you want, you need to apply a lot of different skills to achieve this outcome.  It includes math, planning, budgeting, maybe a little history and more.  You learn quickly because you have a stake in the outcome and you don’t have to figure out how to put together all the pieces and parts.

 Copyright LPI 2008                     5 of 101

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Storytelling is a much more powerful way of teaching and learning than straight lecture or reading.  It’s effective for two key reasons.  First, it provides a structure that is easier to remember than straight delivery of facts and information.  Second, it provides a unique context for the new information that adds heavily to understanding.

If you’re ever read the Joys of Yiddish, there’s a very unique approach that helps with the understanding of the language.  Instead of providing a direct translation, every word is described with a story.  The story is much richer than the definition.  For example, there are two companion words Shlemiel and Shlimazel.   The simple definition is that a  Shlemiel is a clumsy oaf.  A Slimazel is someone with constant bad luck.  By tomorrow, you’ll forget these words.  However, if I describe them as the Shlemiel is the one who always spill his soup.  The Shlimazel is the one he always spills it on.  Better understanding and better retention.

So if you want to learn faster and retain more, tell and listen to stories.  It really works.

Copyright LPI 2008         4 of 101

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It’s true we do learn most of what we know from experience.  However, we tend to learn a mixture of the right way and wrong way to do things.  I mispent a lot of my youth skating down at the lake.  What you saw was a lot of different skating styles and different levels of success learning to skate.  You also see some good skaters who have overcome bad technique to be able to skate really fast. 

Now image that instead of everyone learning to skate by trial and error, they had some early instruction and disciplined practice.  What you’d see is that almost everyone was skating with good form and probably learned how to skate well very quickly.  What you’d also notice is that the best skaters would look like they were skating effortlessly rather than the self-taught skater who learned to skate fast but with arms and legs flayling everywhere.

From a learner’s standpoint, it’s critical to be able to learn from others.  It’s also accepting the some techniques are better than others and that you don’t have to make every mistake yourself before you learn.

Copyright LPI 2/07                        2 of 101

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Learning at Light Speed, 101 Ways to Speed Up the Learning Process

#1:  Experiment

One of the important things we learn from the quality movement is the importance of experiments.  If you know how long something takes, you can set up experiments to see if an approach to learning is faster or not. 

So if you test a reading assignment versus a lecture or a game or elearning, you can see which one actually effects learning speed the most.  Other experiments might involve looking at the amount and timing of practice or the effects of different types of feedback.

The big point is that if you want to speed up learning, you need to know how much time it takes now and then experiment to make things faster.

Copyright LPI 2008.

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I’ve decide to draft out my new book on my blog.  The book is about how to you can shorten your own learning time as a student or shorten the learning curve for others if your a teacher, trainer or instructional designer.  I’m going to write this for everyone who is involved in any kind of learning. 

As a starting point, we’re going to assume that there are tremendous benefits in being able to learn faster.  This doesn’t mean taking short cuts or skipping things.  It means that if you have a choice of learning exactly the same thing to the same level of competence, you would almost always choice the one that gets you there faster. 

If you think that learning needs to be like fine wine that needs to be savoired, this book is not for you.  However, if you’re someone who thinks that the faster you learn, the more you have time to learn, you’re going to see some interesting thoughts and techniques.

I’m going to start the next post out with idea #1 and continue until I get to #101.  When I finally write the book, I’ll add more content and arrange the ideas into a logical sequence.  I’ll also take into account the feedback in the comments area.

copyright LPI 2008, all rights reserved

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