Posts Tagged ‘school’

Here is a quick video that gives an over of a Learning Path.  The chart that follows will also give some detail.

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“Welcome aboard ladies and gentleman, this is your captain Bill Johnson. We have clear skies all the way to Miami. Just to let you know, this is my first time flying the Boeing 757. Not to worry, I’ve been fully checkout including passing the landing test with a near perfect 95%.”
95% is a great score. You can get a 4.0 at Harvard and graduate with honors scoring 95% on all your test. However, anything less than 100% on landing a plane is considered failure. I’ve built a small mountain of training over the years and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked, “What should be setting as a passing score for this class?” Most of the time everyone is so concerned about what happens if someone fails the test, that they want to set the bar as low as possible.
While you might think that the pilot example is a little extreme, let me build the case for 100% and then show you how raising the passing score begins to change everything. Teaching to 100% is very different than teaching to 75%.
Let’s take something as simple as learning to add, subtract, multiple and divide. On a 50 question test if you only got five wrong, that’s 90% right. The teacher might give you a gold star or write GOOD WORK across the top. Later on your first job, you’re running a cash register. Using you’re A+ math skills, you give out correct change 90% of the time, not bad. Well maybe not, you eventually get fired because the register never balances at the end of the day.
Consider other common jobs and situations. A large part of the work in call centers involves giving out product information, taking orders and answering questions. If every agent, scored 75% or better on all their training this means that as much as 25% of the time they are giving out wrong information or making errors on your order. If you were president of the company, would this be okay with you? Before you answer, consider how much these errors cost you in terms of lost customers and lost sales.
Safety is a big deal in every manufacturing plant. If you get 75% right on all the safety tests, it’s a little like only losing a couple of fingers, if you’re lucky. Safety is something that requires 100%. Good simply isn’t good enough.
Remember 10th grade history? History is filled with dates, names, places and events. How much history is it okay to get wrong or mixed up? Does it matter that the treaty of Versailles ended World War I and not World War II? Anyway, over the years, most people forget most of what they learned in 10th grade so it may not be that serious.
In business most jobs require getting things right. Often this doesn’t happen right out of training but as a result of a lot of practice on the job. From doctors to engineers to carpenters to pharmacists, there are severe consequences for getting things wrong, even little things. When a pharmacist makes one mistake in a 1000 when filling prescriptions, it’s a disaster.
Setting the bar high is only part of the equation. There is also a cumulative effect that happens over time. It’s easiest to see in a school setting. If from first to twelfth grade you get 90% right on all your tests, that means that the remaining 10% is a growing body of knowledge that’s wrong. It doesn’t seem like a lot on one test, but on several hundred is massive. That’s for a top student. For a C student getting 70%, that’s the same as getting everything for 3 ½ years wrong.

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One of my all time favorite movies is Rodney Dangerfield’s Back to School.  See if these scenes remind you of any of your college professors or college classes.  The clips really speak for themselves.

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Well it’s time for puppy school.  He seems to like recess the best.  He didn’t do his homework.  I had to use the excuse that he ate his own homework.

It’s interesting to see the different ways people train dogs.  A lot of behaviorism, but there’s also a lot of treating them the way other dogs treat each other.  It’s sort of Pavlov meets the dog whisperer.  I let everyone now if he finally gets his PH.D. in rolling over.


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One of the short falls of today’s education and training is that is built on old ideas and an older way of doing things.  I’d like to put out the question.  If you could start with a clean slate and design education any way you wanted what would it look like?

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50.     Learn to Thrive on Chaos

Change isn’t usually neat and clean.  Change can be a very chaotic event.  But out of this chaos comes a lot of creativity.  A little chaos in the learning process forces students to react and try to regain their balance.  If everything is too safe, it’s hard to learn something new.

51.     Write Case Studies

Having students build their own case studies is a more advanced learning activity because it goes beyond simple analysis to being able to synthesize ideas and facts into something new.  Presenting this case study to the class becomes a teaching experience for students.

52.     Try Voice Recognition Software

Voice recognition software is getting better and better every day.  It allows you to quickly put your thoughts into writing.  It helps build text based materials in an easy to read narrative style.  Recording information from experts makes the journey to self-study and elearning a lot shorter.

53.    Have Fun

Learning doesn’t have to be boring.  Adding a little fun keeps morale up and helps students over rough patches.  Games, contests, music, video and more help keep students engaged.

54.     Build Templates and Standard Formats

If you need to develop a lot of education or training quickly, the first step is to pre-make a lot of decisions that would normally be made at the start of every new program.  This means building standard formats and templates for things like, teacher materials, self-study assignments, elearning and more.  Believe me, it will save a lot of time if you don’t have to pick type styles and sizes every time you create a document.  Also it allows others who are less experienced to quickly build their own courses.

55.     Know What You Know

Putting everyone through the same learning process is too fast for some and too slow for others.  A good up front assessment can help a teacher customize any learning process.  In a workplace where you will have a wide range of capabilities and experiences this is especially critical. 

56.     Use Case Studies

Analysis is a higher level learning skill.  It shows a much higher level of competence than being able to repeat facts or even describe what was read.  Case studies require students to analyze what happened and why.  Case studies can also incorporate a range of knowledge and experience which again breaks down the topic silos. 

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44.     Build a Show Me How Library

This is actually a really easy one.  List out the major tasks you want others to learn.  Now take your digital camcorder and make short movies of an expert doing each task.  To make production easy have another expert describe what the other person is doing.  Take all these small digital videos and either put them up on a menu driven DVD or post them online with a help menu.  In only hours, you have a really valuable show me how library.  Since their digital, they’re easily replaced as things change.  This method is great for both visual and digital learners.Use Case Studies

Analysis is a higher level learning skill.  It shows a much higher level of competence than being able to repeat facts or even describe what was read.  Case studies require students to analyze what happened and why.  Case studies can also incorporate a range of knowledge and experience which again breaks down the topic silos. 

45.     Leave a Trail for Others

You can help others learn what you’re about to learn by keeping a learning diary which includes your insights including both right and wrong turns.  These are valuable for future students but also for teachers who need to build training for others. 

46.     Build a Blog

Blogs are easy to maintain and update ways to share information and get a discussion going.  Because blogs don’t have a formal structure, they are extremely flexible.  You can use them to post articles, videos and other research.  Learning from each other is faster than learning on your own.

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41.     Don’t Stuff the Goose

Stuffing the Goose is a technical education term. What it refers to is two situations. First, it means adding as much or more content as you possibly can. You don’t want to leave anything out. When you review the design, everyone wants to add things until you have no time to actually work on anything. Second, it happens when you bring people in for something like three days. The thinking is, “since we have you here, let’s cover everything.” How can we put two weeks of content into one week? This is a natural tendency. It’s hard to fight. But some of the worst education and training has been stuffed. So focus on your objectives and tell others to stop stuffing the goose.

42.     Teach from Simple to Complex

The best alternative to teach topic by topic is to teach by task or outcome.  Once you have a list of all the task or outcomes you want to teach, put them in order from simple to complex or easy to hard.  Now teach them one by one.  Then require a set level of proficiency before moving on.  This builds the integration of skills and knowledge plus allowing you to add in real life practice. 

43.     Change Perspectives

Seeing things from your own point of view is very limiting.  You see only a part of the picture.  Activities that require students to see things from other people’s point of view give deeper understanding.  Something as simple as a debate where you take one side and then the other gives works well.  Playing the role of a customer or supplier works too.  Then have students stand back and look at the big picture to see how everyone relates and interacts

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I’ve been on the road so much I haven’t been able to keep up.

Here are some more fast ideas.

28.     Reduce Variability

Reducing variability is a key element along with reducing the time of any quality improvement effort.  This really comes into play in larger organizations and school systems which tend to have a very high degree of variability.  For example, in a Fortune 1000 company it’s very likely that every division has a different basic sales training course.  In fact, they will have multiple instructors teaching the course their own way. 

In a school system, something like 4th grade history is different in every school and even between teachers in the same school.  As a result, there is little or no sharing of best practices and most students can’t get the very best because the best can only teach so many students.  Training and education will get better and faster as hundreds and even thousands of different processes are limited to a smaller number that can be worked on and improved.

29.     Make a List of Everything

Actually this list of ideas is a good example.  As an expert you might know everything on this list but if you were to tell it to someone else, it’s likely you would miss a few things.  That’s what often happens in teaching a job or task.  You can do a great job of teaching everything you remember but miss a few things.  That five or ten percent often is critical in reaching proficiency.  A good list in a lot of environments is a list of everything that can go wrong and what to do about it.  A good place for the list is on a Wiki.

30.     Become a Speed Researcher

While speed reading and working on memory techniques are great, a third part of the equation is to become a faster researcher.  The first thing to do to become a speed research is to learn how to use online search engines.  In most cases, this just takes practice and a willingness to try out all the different search functions.  The second thing is to search out and bookmark important sites that tend to have the knowledge you seek.  Asking others for great sites is part of this search.  To help others this involves creating Wikis and online help that’s easy to use, up-to-date and complete.  A good knowledge management system is crucial.

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24. Don’t Talk So Much

Often, the more your talk the less learning is happening.  Others often have to say the words to learn something and they can’t do that when you’re talking

25. Add a Little Music

All the research shows that music improves verbal memory.  This means adding music to education but also studying and playing music. 

26. Build a Wiki

As you start any new job or new learning environment, you are bombarded with new words and acronyms.  Sometimes you’ll find a written glossary or list of terms but it’s usually out-of-date and hard to find.  Terms and acronyms are easy to load to a Wiki which is like an online encyclopedia.  The advantage of a Wiki is that it’s easy to update and everyone has access to add or modify information rather than waiting for periodic updating. 

27. Don’t Forget Memory Techniques

Most people remember things through repetition.  There are dozens of other techniques that speed up the memory process by linking and rearranging things to make them easier to remember.  For example, it’s easier to remember the words to a song than a poem. 

Putting words to music is just one memory technique.  In building courses, a lot of the time you can build in information delivery in a way that’s easier to remember.  Often a model or map can be used to organize information in a way that helps visual learners.

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