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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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Uploaded Ms. Kathleen

This is my salute to presidents on presidents day posting.  I remember people talking about history when I was growing up.  They said it was much harder to know history to day because there was so much more to remember.  In fact, when my father was in grade school, he only needed to know the presidents up to Hoover. 

I think it’s really hard to compare an education today with an education from 30, 40 or 70 years ago.  It’s a different world and in a lot of cases all the facts have changed.  The worlds of medicine and science are completely different.  A  lot of what people thought was right turned out to be wrong and there’s also a lot of stuff that noone every dreamed of that has become common place.  Here’s to quick examples.  If you studied Einstein in physics, you would have heard that the universe is curved.  Turns out that last year they proved that the universe is perfactly flat in all directions.

If you graduated from Harvard with a Ph.D., in communications in 1960, you would have no idea on how to text message or do a simple Google search.  You won’t find it in any curriculum for another 30 years or more.

How about geography, try comparing a map from 1980 and 2007?  You’re straight As in 1980, become an F today.  You even have to change your 2007 map to make Kosovo an independent country.

Are you keeping up with your reading?  In 1900, only a few thousand books got published.  Today, it’s over 100,000.  And your vocabulary?  In 1960, there were about 200,000 words in the English Dictionary.  Now there are over a million.  Can you define “woot” and use it in a sentence?  Most 10 year olds can. 

 As with many things, the good old days often aren’t as good as people’s memories.  It’s tough to measure new world oranges against old world apples.

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Uploaded by Tambour_Unit

 I don’t know if you’d heard the expression, it’s like polishing canon balls.  It goes back to the old quality improvement and reengineering days.  In other words, you’re making improvements that really have no benefits.  Nice shiny canon balls are still obsolete.

So the question is, are the improvements to the education system really meaningful or are we just polishing cannon balls.  Is it a matter of making incremental improvements or trying something completely different? 

At your next meeting where this is discussed try asking the group, are we just polishing canon balls?

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Uploaded by Joseph Dath

 On a gut level, you might say that kids today just don’t read and write like we used to…or most adults just don’t read books. 

However, when you dig into it a little what’s really evident is that reading and writing have changed so much that comparing the past to today is comparing apples to oranges.

Here’s what I mean.  It used to be that you wrote long letters to friends and family and dropped them in the mail box.  In fact, a lot of history is recorded letters.  The civil war is a great example because it is one of the most documented wars because of all the letters.  The big change is not a decline in writing but a decline in using a paper and pen.  If you added up all the emails, text messages and posts on social networking sites, the amount of writing is massively greater.  Think about when congress wants another departments emails and the get several million emails to look at.

Well what about newspapers.  No one reads newspapers like they used to.  This is an absolutely true statement.  The reality is that people are probably more engaged and interested in their world, but news print just doesn’t cut it.  I could wait for old news to appear on my door step or I could just go to Yahoo news and see what’s happening right now.  A newspaper might offer you two or three columnists on a subject while you can go on line and get a hundred different points of view.  Newspapers also have to compete with 24/7 cable news and sports.  I remember rushing to the paper to get the sports scores in the morning.  Now I can watch the ticker on ESPN or call them up on my cell phone.

I know you’ll say, what about books.  No one reads books any more.  I’d say some one has the be reading books because the number of books in print each year has exploded.  Today about a 100,000 books are published each year.  If you read a book a week, you’d be reading .005% of the new books.  Hard to keep up on your reading that way.  Think about all the people who used to own a really good set of encyclopedias.  Their basically worthless today because if you want the knowledge of the world a quick Google search will work and you can get everything in multi-media.

So here’s a good question, have we change the way we teach reading and writing to fit a new world or are we still in line with the 1950s?

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Uploaded by philbeth

 If you were going to teach a lesson about U.S. trade, a good place to start is to ask the question, “What do you believe is true about U.S. trade with other countries?” 

Write down what everyone says or a least the key ideas on a white board without comment.  Whether these ideas are right, wrong or somewhere in between they can prevent learning something new on the subject.

You could expand this by asking questions like,

“Who is the U.S.’s largest trading partner?” 

“What’s are biggest import from China?”

“Who do we buy more from France or Korea?”

 You get the point.  Now present some facts from a reliable, non-bias source.  I prefer getting raw and mostly unfiltered data from places like the Bureau of Labor Statistics or the US Census Bureau.  Usually what you read elsewhere is analysis of this data.

Here’s a great site for US Trade numbers.  US International Trade Commission.

They list every country in order and then break it down by product and services area.

You can also see how much they buy from the U.S. and the balance of trade numbers.

So here’s the big question, “who buys more from us than anyone?”  Do I hear Canada?

I also found it fascinating that in 2006 the second biggest category of imports from China were listed as: nuclear reactors, boilers, machinery and mechanical appliances; parts thereof

Be warned..a quick visit before you’re next political discussion will make you look like a smarty pants.

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Uploaded by Kevin Steele

If you ever do strategy or planning sessions, here’s something you always run into.  If I ask something like, “on average, how long does it take new salespeople to get up to speed?”  Some people will think through their experience, maybe even look at some data and give it their best shot.

Others will answer, “it depends.”  They will come up with all sorts of variables that make it impossible to even take an educated guess.  In fact, they will refuse to take a wild guess. 

When this happens, I’m always reminded by the joke they told during the Clinton/Dole election.  Clinton had been asked by MTV about whether he wore boxers or briefs.  The joke was they asked Bob Dole if he wore boxes or brief…he replied…Depends.

Anyway, the depends answer is what I call in the box thinking.  In some way, people are either resistant to answering with their best guess or they are simply paralyzed by all the possible answers. 

I hear a lot in the education world about how every student is unique and different and every teacher is unique and different so you really can’t do anything that tries to reduce that variability or learn from best practices.  In many cases, this resistance is a resistance to change…so the status quo continues. 

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Uploaded on by Image Zen

I was once told that there are two kinds of people in this world.  Those who divide the world into two kinds of people and those who don’t.  Anyway, I’ve heard the discussion a lot about the different between education, training and learning.  Some see sharp distinctions and other see them as the same. 

I remember someone recoiling at the idea of being a training department.  “You train dogs not people.”  To that I always say, “Do you want your surgeon to be well trained or well educated?”

It’s seems like the academic world is more focused on education and the corporate world is more focused on training.  You are statements like, “the purpose of an education is to become a critical thinker and well rounded.”  “The purpose of training is change what participants will be able to do after the training is over.”  Maybe it’s the difference between knowledge acquisition and skill development.  

In schools, paper and pencil tests are mainstays.  Standardized tests which are mostly about knowledge acquisition and comprehension seem to be the level of measurement.  In a corporate environment, those tests are usually meaningless.  It’s more the rule than the norm that doing well on a test indicates results on the job.

So to sort all this out, you often see the word Learning substituted for both education and training.  Think about the advent of the Chief Learning Officer or Elearning, etc.  I look at learning as something that a student or participant does.  It’s not what the instructor does.  It’s good in a sense that it doesn’t suggest a particular approach or methodology. 

What do I use or prefer?  I tend to use them all and use them interchangeably.  I actually don’t think is a very productive argument.  When people argue about terms, I often say let’s just pick something or mayble make something up.  How about calling it “Bob?” 

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