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Experience leads accelerated learning

Posted on by Brandon Klein

Problem

Humans learn in different ways. There are people who are primarily visual, auditory or kinesthetic learners. Much ‘learning’ takes place in a classroom environment and ends up being boring, repetitive and scaled to the lowest common denominator. Human beings also learn by building up ideas upon previous knowledge. They can only interpret new information in light of their current models or reality. To make decisions, people must understand the context in which the solution will reside—and that may require shifting their viewpoint on the issue. When Coca-Cola looked at market share versus Pepsi, they knew they were winning. But when they looked at their share of all the fluids a human consumes in a day, they realized they had a long way to go, and it opened up a new landscape for them.

 

Solution

Design experiences that bring to light the desired new information. DO NOT explain the purpose of the experience prior to issuing the assignment. Let the participants immerse themselves in the experience. There is considerable value in their struggle to understand. Debrief the experience as a group to draw out the learnings and build a common understanding.

If you tell a group what you want them to find, the path of least resistance is to find it. But if they discover it for themselves, through their experience, it becomes a hard-won victory and the learning sets in much more deeply. We had one event where several groups were given articles to read and then identify the theme that was present. They all did so, even though the readings had been randomly distributed.

Use part of Scan to set the context that their solution needs to fit within (marketplace, competitors, larger strategy, work previously done, etc.) Don’t be swayed by concerns that you would be getting out of scope.

Simulations can work very well as an experience from which learning can be drawn, but generally which specific learning you won’t know ahead of time.

One of the most effective ways for learning to take place is to have to teach the subject. That means mastering a subject well enough to explain it to others. That is one of the reasons report outs are so important—participants have to teach each other in order to create a shared experience.

I hear, I forget

I see, I remember

I do, I understand

--Chinese proverb

“To learn anything fast and effectively, you have to see it, hear it and feel it.” Tony Stockwell, Accelerated Learning in Theory and Practice