Government Elearning! Magazine

DEC 2015 - JAN 2016

Elearning! Magazine: Building Smarter Companies via Learning & Workplace Technologies.

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Insights Insights Brain Science and Learning Effectiveness BY BRYAN AUSTIN W hy is most corporate learning not optimally efective? Many long-time L&D experts including Elliott Masie, Clark Quinn and Will Talheimer have frequently lamented that much of the corporate learning they see is not really efective learn- ing, because it is not mentally challenging. Like them, I've found the issue is not that learning professionals don't know how to create learning that is challenging enough to be efective. Instead, it's usually the harsh reality of the time, resource and cost constraints within which most learning professionals work. Every organization provides training to its workforce primarily to improve performance and drive business growth. So let's discuss some brain science and how to leverage it to create learning that really engages learners and actually improves performance. BRAIN SCIENCE FOR LEARNING EFFECTIVENESS: A.G.E.S. A.G.E.S. is an outgrowth of neuroscientifc research that examines the link between training retention and how strongly each learner's brain is activated during training. Te A.G.E.S. model focuses on four key categories that reduce distraction during training and dramatically improve retention: Attention (Focus) - Are your employees prone to multi-tasking during training? For the brain to fre at the level required to transfer learning from short-term memory to long-term memory (that is, neces- sary for retention to happen), learners need to pay close attention during a learning task. Deep focus is a critical factor for learning retention. Employees will engage if they intuitively understand how the learn- ing is relevant to their success. Engagement is making the learning (and the brain!) active, not passive. Generation (each learner makes his or her own meaning) - Tis means taking the "active" learning described above to the next level. Learners must generate their own mental links as they learn, not just passively listen. Training will be highly retained when learners create their own mental context to embed the knowledge. Tis is most efectively done by involving multiple senses during learning. Not watching or reading, but thinking, listening, speaking and doing. If our training uses multiple senses (like playing an in- teractive game), we are activating diferent sets of the brain's neural circuits to more tightly embed the meaning each learner creates during that learning. Emotions (Better Recall) - Te stronger the emotions each learner feels during training, the higher their retention of the material will be. Tese emotions can be either positive or negative. How can your training engender feelings of success? Or fear of failure? Are the majority of your employees inherently competitive? Trigger that competitiveness to create learning experiences that makes them want to win. Or avoid losing. Spacing (Learning Blocks) - Remember how you "crammed" for that big test in school? Tis was efective in massing a large amount of knowledge, but only for short-term memory. Long-term recall/retention improves dramatically when we learn over several sittings. Te longer employees must remember the knowledge that makes them successful, the more learning must be spaced out. How ofen does your training initiative include a reinforcement strategy that extends well beyond the foundation training? Unfortunately, most strategic corporate training initiatives are more of a "Big Bang" with little to no reinforcement. Spaced repetition is key to learning efectiveness and retention. BOTTOM LINE Te A.G.E.S. model in neuroscience is essential to create more efective learning. Te best part: there are now technology solutions built around A.G.E.S. that can enable your organization to produce "A.G.E.S.-level learning" within the time, resource and cost constraints you face. —Bryan Austin is vice president at mLevel, which produces award-winning game-based learning. More info: www.mlevel.com. Government Elearning! Winter 2016 15 Bryan Austin, vice president, mLevel

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