How To Make Your Brilliance Shine
Today, workplace learning and teaching can and must bring out the brilliance in everyone. Here's how:
The traditional approach to workplace learning and teaching is beyond old school -- it's broken. As a result, organizational intelligence is suffering at a time, on the heels of the Great Recession, when we may need it most.
By all accounts, the corporate training market in the United States is more than $100 billion. Still, according to a recent workplace survey by the American Psychological Association, just 44 percent of working Americans say that they are satisfied with their employer's training and development opportunities.
I propose a momentous "new school" framework -- an all-new learning model that, unlike our broken traditional approach, sets up people for success, along with the companies they work for.
It all starts with one principle -- and three seismic shifts.
The 70/30 Principle: Rebalancing The Learning Equation.
Imagine yourself in a traditional workplace-learning environment.
Who's doing the talking and moving around? Who's got the ideas? Who's excited, eager and energized?
It's the teacher, the teacher and the teacher.
Fact is, though, whoever is doing the talking is doing the learning. So, here's a whole new big idea: the 70/30 Principle.
The 70/30 Principle represents three seismic shifts that, together, turn our traditional learning model on its head. In re-balancing the learning equation, the principle shines a light on the learner, not the teacher; swings the emphasis to "how" teachers teach, not "what" teachers teach; and stimulates active learning, not passive learning. The result is that teachers truly energize and engage learners and, better still, turn learning into action.
What are these three seismic shifts that can rock your organization's learning? To teachers everywhere, read them-and reap:
1. Learners do 70 percent of the talking -- and 30 percent of the listening.
Learners, not teachers, must be center stage, actively learning. This can't, and won't, happen when you are doing most of the talking and learners are doing most of the listening. Shift your focus from talking to listening.
2. Teachers spend 70 percent of their preparation on 'how' they will teach -- and 30 percent on 'what' they will teach.
If you're like most teachers, you devote more time to preparing your content than to figuring out how you will teach that content. Shift your focus from what you will teach to how you will teach, creating a variety of activities and embedding best learning practices into your designs.
3. Learners spend 70 percent of their time practicing -- and 30 percent of their time being taught.
To embed learning, let learners practice, practice, practice. The more people participate in hands-on practice, the more likely that they will turn what they learn into action and succeed on their own. Shift your focus from teaching to practicing.
How To E-N-G-A-G-E Learners -- And Bring Out The Brilliance In Everyone
According to research from the National Training Laboratories Institute, passive learning methods, such as attending lectures or watching videos, result in average retention rates of 30 percent. Once learners begin to engage in more participatory learning, however, average retention rates soar to 90 percent.
The message: Say goodbye to "sit and git" -- the old, misguided learning model so ingrained in our workplace culture -- and hello to ENGAGE.
A six-step learning model, based on the most recent discoveries in neuroscience, ENGAGE has high designs: to revolutionize traditional workplace learning and teaching.
The ENGAGE Model provides a momentous "new school" framework -- an all-new model that sets everyone up to succeed. No one's smarts are squandered; no one's brilliance is left unknown, unnoticed or untapped.
For all workplace teachers-trainers, managers, coaches, mentors, team leaders and others -- here's how, step by step, to E-N-G-A-G-E:
1. Energize learners.
To truly engage learners, you must energize them early and often. From the very start, and even ahead of time, stimulate curiosity, stir up desire, and shine a light on the topic. There are scores of best practices to choose from, including emailing cool interactive invitations, livening up arrivals with music, placing fun quotes or toys on tabletops, and sharing your promise for the day, such as "You will walk out the door with three new skills: _____, _____, and _____."
ENGAGE Tip: Get learners talking right away with deep, thought-provoking questions. Depending on your topic, you might ask, "Does the world need leaders?" or "What do you really want and need from a team?" Have people write down their responses on flip charts or whiteboards and refer back to them.
2. Navigate content
If you truly want learning to happen, here lies your most significant investment of time and talent: navigating your content by focusing less on what you teach and more on how you teach. Essentially, you must challenge and involve learners with numerous interesting, interactive activities while also addressing multiple learning styles -- visual ("seeing"), auditory ("hearing") and kinesthetic ("doing"). That allows every learner to show up in the way that he or she is smart.
ENGAGE Tip: Create a "job aid" -- a synthesis of your key concepts on a single sheet or card. As participants move through the learning event, they'll have a snapshot of all pertinent content. For you, it's a power tool, a versatile go-to piece always at the ready.
3. Generate meaning.
Learning is a relationship between learners and teachers, and between content and meaning. This step emphasizes relevance and encourages people to turn "ahas" into action. Learners determine the significance of the content to their work and commit to acting on its true value and purpose.
ENGAGE Tip: Break learners up into small groups and ask them to share their single most important new learning and why it is valuable to them. Have a spokesperson from each group report on the findings.
4. Apply to the real world.
Moving from "knowing" to "doing" is critical. Here, people practice what they've learned in their real-world context while still operating within the safety and support of the learning environment. Many teachers skimp on this step or skip it altogether, assuming that people will turn learning into action themselves. When that happens, learning seldom transfers into actually using the new behaviors.
ENGAGE Tip: Working in small groups, pass a hat and have participants pick a problem -- a sticky issue or situation that they might face back on the job. Ask each group to use their new skills to solve the problem and then showcase their process with a report or role-play.
5. Gauge and celebrate.
Whether your learning design is one hour or one week, it's important to have people assess how much they've learned, helping them not only to review but also to deepen the neural connections. Moreover, it's important to celebrate learning in fun and interactive ways, such as a "Jeopardy"-inspired game show or a "Koosh Ball Review," in which learners toss a Koosh ball and test one another on their takeaways.
ENGAGE Tip: Circle the room using "3-2-1" -- a surefire strategy for assessing learning. Ask people: three terms they've learned, two ideas they want to learn more about, and one concept or skill they think they've mastered.
6. Extend learning to action.
How many times have you learned something new and, despite your best intentions, didn't apply it sooner -- or later? Odds are, you just needed a little reminder or outside encouragement. There are several simple strategies to help people act on their intentions and put what they've learned to work, including email reminders, buddy systems, and quick games or contests.
ENGAGE Tip: Host a "Lunch and Learn" series to help learners review and re-engage with the content. Participants can watch a short video, discuss an article, or share their successes and struggles in applying their learning. The format can be flexible: Connect online, in person, or by telephone.
The Time For Brilliance Has Come
Learning transforms people's lives. And teaching, in any forum, is the art and science of bringing out the brilliance that drives those transformations.
Are you bringing out brilliance? The time has come, and you can -- and must.
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Victoria Halsey, Ph.D., is a leading expert in workplace learning and author of Brilliance by Design: Creating Learning Experiences That Connect, Inspire, and ENGAGE (Berrett-Koehler, 2011). Vice President of Applied Learning at The Ken Blanchard Companies, she is a sought-after instructional designer, consultant and trainer, and keynote speaker. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.