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Posts Tagged ‘Accelerated Learning’

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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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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Education traditionally focuses on knowledge acquisition and retention.  However, it usually misses a key element.  That’s the element of speed.  In other words, of fast can you recall information and how fast can you apply it. 

While there is usually a time limit on tests, it’s usually not at the speed of rapid recall.  You usually have ample time to think of the answer or to figure out the answers based on how the test is written.

If you really want to know who knows their stuff, try cutting the time you have to take the SATs in half.  Try cutting the time allowed for a multiple choice test to the time it takes to read all the questions and circle the answers.

So why the concern for speed?  If you have a fluent knowledge of something, it shows itself in terms of speed.  Think of learning a foriegn language, you have to get to the point where you know all the words well enough to keep up with a conversation especially when others start to speak quickly.  In fact, keeping up with a conversation is a good measure of how fluent you are in a language.  The same can and should hold true for other subjects.  With speed comes competences or vice-versa.

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It’s interesting.  When you got to Wikipedia, there isn’t a definition of accelerated learning.  When you to a Google search, you find a number of different learning companies using the term accelerated learning in a number of different ways.  Often promoting whatever they are selling.

Is it that learning faster hasn’t really been a focus of education?  Is it that there really haven’t been a lot of advances to speed up learning? 

There certainly is an advantage to learning faster.  You can learn more in the same time.  You can learn something before you get bored or give up.  You can learn mutliple things easily in the same time.

So what should be included in accelerated learning?  Here’s my start at a definition.  

  1.  Anything that helps take in more information quickly while improving understanding.  This might include speed reading.
  2. Anything that helps retain large amount of information quickly such as memory techniques.
  3. Anything that helps quickly sort through large amounts of material so that you can find out what’s really important and useful.
  4. Any techniques that help you analyze and evaluate problems quickly.
  5. Any techniques that help reduce the required hours and hours of practice. (Better practice)
  6. Anything that reduces or eliminates trail and error learning.
  7. Anything that helps make learning more just-in-time.

Please add your thoughts and ideas to this list.  With a little help, I can take a shot at writing the first wikipedia entry.

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True and false, multiple choice, fill in the blank, matching and even essay tests for the most part evaluate knowledge and comprehension.  They’re easy to write.  Easy to score and easy to compare one student to another.

However, knowing and doing are two very different things.  That’s why there is often very little correlation between how employees do on classroom tests and how they perform on the job.  Unless you’re training academics, there needs to be a more meaningful way to do testing.

It’s actually fairly easy.  You ask an expert to watch the student work or perform a required task.  That expert will be able to tell you a lot about what that student knows and doesn’t know.  Most experts tell me they’d know in less than five minutes. 

You can then ask the expert what he or she is looking at.  What are the key inidicators?  Now you have a good evaluation checklist that you can use to train others on this type of evaluation.

This type of evaluation doesn’t favor those who are “good test takers.”  It also tests the links between a range of tasks and knowledge.

Unfortunately, this type of test isn’t very easy with elearning unless you can do some very sophisticated simulations.

Here’s a reading test that any school system can use that is guaranteed to be better than what they use today.  Give a student a book.  Say, okay read it to me.  After five minutes, ask, “what did you just read?”  Any good teacher will know where this student is on their reading ability.  You also won’t get anyone through high school who fakes their way through without learning to read. 

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In the business world, we are always looking for ways to increase output while decreasing costs.  This is what the whole quality movement is about.  So how do you apply these principles to increase education funding.

First, for the sake of argument let’s just freeze education funding at current levels.  If we can provide the same or better education for less money we’ll free up money to do other things.  Second, we let’s assume we can change the funding from “butts in the seat” to some other formula we’re the level of quality of education equals funding.  I’ll come back to this.

Okay, so what we focus on is dramatically reducing time to proficiency for the middle 60 to 70% of students.  I’m leaving out the top and the bottom for right now because the real big dollars are in the middle with all the average kids. 

The first step is to define proficiency as the education the average student gets from K-12.  At the start, whatever the school system defines as proficiency will be our target.  Now, we measure the current time to proficiency.  It may be more or less that 13 years but we want a real time to proficiency not just the day you get the diploma.

Now through applying process improvement techniques that allow us to drive out waste and reduce time on the first pass I guarantee you will find 50 to 100 quick hit improvement ideas.  A quick hit is anything that reduces time to proficiency and that doesn’t require a lot of time or money.  These quick hits come from looking at the current curriculum in depth.  (By the way, my definition of waste is anything a student doesn’t remember after the test.)

A lot of quick hits have to do with our courses are arranged, rearranged, combined, modified and deleted.  You tend to break down subject and grade barriers and instead start to think in terms of start to finish.  For example, you set a reading level and you continue the education until the student reaches that level.  Instead of teaching reading in the first grade it may take several year to reach a certain level of speed and comprehension.  Quick hits are also trying to match the way people actually learn versus they way we traditionally teach it.

Through this effort you will reduce time to proficiency.  Some students will finish in 10 years, some 11, some 12 and some might take 14.  In the business world, we’ve always gotten a 30% reduction initially.  But let’s say you get a 5% reduction.   That means we cut an average education by about 6 or 7 months.  What does it 6 to 7 months of education cost a school system?  It’s a lot.  Now you can take the money and spend it on something like higher teacher salaries or a music program. 

You can read all about how this works in a business environment in my book Learning Paths.  I’ve also posted a whitepaper in my blog. 

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I’ve had the opportunity and challenge of working with companies in about 6 countries.  In some cases, I’m able to do consulting without ever leaving the house.  I did work with people in India for 2 years and it was all emails and phone calls.

 I’ve found that it’s a must to have a service like SKYPE that allows you to have unlimited free phone calls.  I’ve hooked up a good head set to my computer and I forward my calls to my cell phone when I’m out.  I also will use a webcam.  It’s probably more fun than practical.  I’ve also been playing around with different live meeting type providers.  That last couple of sessions were on Yugma which is free for under 10 people.

 So if you imagine doing business with a company in Sinagore, you can run interactive meetings and patch in your associates in the UK and Canada for free.  It’s all worked very smoothly so I can’t tell you have to deal with any bugs.

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