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Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

I’ve been unsually business doing Learning Paths projects.  Each time I learn something new and the process gets better.  I guess that’s the goal of process improvement.  For those of you who have read the book or have done initiatives on your own, I’m going to do some blog posts on what we’ve learned and changed.

One of the things we know like to do at the end of the first phase is do a formall stakeholder analysis as a way of building a communication and implementation plan.  This helps us identify those who were not on the team that might be major allies or obstacles.  While it takes some time to do, it’s worth it.

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One of the key activities in improving quality is to eliminate waste.  You may have been part of a Kaizen event that did this.  Waste can be anything that isn’t necessary and in particular in speeding up learning, you’re looking for things that are a waste of time.

So where is the waste in education and training.  One major source of waste is everything that is taught one day and forgotten the next.  Think about your K-12 years and even your college years.  How much were you taught that you no longer remember.  For most people it’s a staggering amount.  I took three different languages in school and today I can’t speak or translate any of them.  While I might have had a good time in class, I consider it a waste.  I guess I could have been wasting my time with something else.

But there’s more..books than noone reads, DVDs that noone watches and lectures that noone stays awake for. 

Speeding up learning requires looking at each course or training event and looking at the retention rate.  If it’s low, you need to toss it out or try something else.

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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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This picture has nothing to do with the topic but misery loves company. 

Anyway, a lot of emphasis is placed on soft skills training.  Sometimes referred to as people skills or non-technical skills.  This includes things like, listening, presentations, team building, sales, etc.  All good skills to have.

The problem is that they take a long time and a lot of practice to master.  If you go to a presentations course, you learn about how to make effective presentations and if you’re lucky you get to practice one or two times.

People who make presentations for a living tell me it takes about 200 times through to really make a great presentation.  So without that extensive practice what tends to happen is that people think they’ve developed the skills but really haven’t. 

Can you learn to be a good listener in 30 minutes?  That’s part of a lot of curriculums.  I think it might take a little more practice.

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 Yet another blog carnival.  More posts to come now that I’m back in town.

  1. Wayne Buckhanan presents Three Types of Action posted at Life, Love, & Learning.

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