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Posts Tagged ‘trends’

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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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Science is good at a lot of things.  Predictions aren’t one of them.  It’s still hard to pick a winning horse at the track.  But this is just my observation so I did a little homework.  Here’s an interesting article about the quality of scientific predictions.  Try not to get caught up on what the prediction is about.  That’s not the point.  It’s about the ability to predict.  Also I’m not talking about the ability to predict what happens when you mix two chemicals.  I’m talking about predicting what will happen in a complex system like real life.

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There are a number of articles with this time of year that rank scientific accomplishments.  I guess there still is more to learn.  Here’s a link to one in Wired Magazine.  I especially like the chimps that make spears.

http://www.wired.com/science/discoveries/news/2007/12/YE_10_breakthroughs

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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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There is a lot of talk about whether talk time is a valid or useful measure in call centers.  There are good and not so good arguments on both sides.  However, in a training environment, talk time can provide some useful information.  Here’s how..

As agents become more confidence and competent there speed naturally picks up.  You can see it and hear on every call.  They navigate screens faster.  They know where to find information.  They give better advice.  They talk more naturally and fluently.  The calls of experienced agents will be faster than the calls of inexperienced agents.

During training, what I like to do is put talk times on a quality run chart.  On a control chart .   Then I look at the normal distribution of call times from experienced agents and set both upper and lower control limits.  When new agent’s talk times fit within these limits, I’m no longer concerned about talk time.  Some agents will have much higher talk times.  To me this indicates that there are areas they haven’t mastered and are therefore too slow.  A little analysis and observation can help spot these.

The trickier ones are those who are too fast.  This can mean agents may be skipping things they don’t know well or even things like blind transfers.  Again, a little watching and listening should reveal these. 

By identifying the outliers on the control chart, you can be much more focused with your coaching.

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