It’s official – Christmas is well and truly over. The tinsel and decorations have been put away for another year and the wrapping paper’s in the bin. No more lazing about in pyjamas all day watching festive films. No more reaching out for one last mince pie. It’s time to look to the future and think about what you’re going to achieve in 2018. So, this January, (like every January), I’m joining millions of people around the globe who are making new year’s resolutions and promises.
You may well be one of those millions too. And even though 80% of us will have broken our resolutions by February, it’s inevitable that we’ll repeat the process when January 2019 rolls around. Why do we put ourselves through this? Well, as humans, we’re on a never-ending journey of self-improvement, constantly striving to be better.
But where most fail, some succeed. How do they do it?
It seems that for anything we can improve at, there’s an app to track it and make it quantifiable.
Humour (if done well) can really make a learning course stand out. It creates a more relaxed environment in which learners feel more open to trying things out. No one minds getting things wrong – a great way to learn – if they’re having a laugh. Humour in learning (if done well) also reverses the tone of top-down authority which learning courses so often adopt, and it fosters an emotional connection between learner and learning.
Those warm fuzzy feelings have a tangible benefit. Humour (if done well) is one of the most effective ways of engaging learners. Neuroscience shows that when we laugh, our brains release dopamine, a neurotransmitter which activates reward-motivated behaviour and participation. So it not only biologically invests learners, but also increases retention. With all that in mind, why wouldn’t you turn your learning into Seinfeld on steroids?
I was lucky enough to have really cool teachers at school – you know, the type who taught game theory using the bar scene from A Beautiful Mind, or aspects of US government systems using episodes of The West Wing, or Freud’s idea of the Return of the Repressed using the opening episode of the 2nd series of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Making a connection between whatever you were learning about and the big TV shows of the day, a classic film, or a national sport would instantly attract the full attention of us pupils and automatically attribute a degree of Awesome to the teacher. Suddenly something we already cared about was relevant to the lesson; so of course we were going to be more engaged, pay more attention and be more likely to recall that lesson. They were using pop culture in learning.
Saffron Interactive, award-winning provider of digital learning solutions, will be exhibiting on stand B160 at the free World of Learning two-day event on 17 and 18 October at the NEC Birmingham.
The session, “Serious gamification for serious threats”, will be facilitated by Donald H Taylor, Chairman of the Learning and Skills Group, and James Tyas, Senior Instructional Designer at Saffron. It combines the most incisive insights on gamification and behavioural science from Saffron’s well-received Learning Technologies Summer Forum seminar with tangible examples from the course awarded CIR Business Continuity Award Initiative of the Year 2017 earlier this month.
We believe the employee engagement dilemma to be so pressing that last month we held a conference, Engage Change, to bring together a host of Heads of Learning, Talent, Engagement and Change to discuss strategies of how to tackle the problem head on. If you doubt the gravity of the issue, then look at these statistics and consider what that means for the world economy in an increasingly digital age. One of the key factors that allows an organisation to remain agile and respond to disruptive technologies whilst still growing is having a high employee engagement rate. Employees themselves, and millennials in particular, cite learning and development opportunities within an organisation as ranking higher than pay in keeping them engaged. So the burden of responsibility falls upon L&D departments to rekindle that engagement. But does this mean sweeping changes within an organisation? Here are 3 key employee engagement misconceptions our conference dispelled.
Can you think back to the most powerful learning experience you’ve ever had? Was there a class that you always looked forward to?
Mine was a class at university, not exceptional in its content but transformative because of the teaching methods used by the professor. He skillfully used the flipped classroom methodology to reach the promised land of education: it made me realise the unknown unknowns, the blind spots I never knew I had.
These experiences initiate deep learning moments, a rush of hormones that have us wanting to come back for more. In education, they have us diligently preparing for classes and continuing animated conversations long after they’re over. At work, quality learning re-ignites our excitement for what we do, energising and empowering us to create, think and do. In other words, it engages us.
One of my Saffron colleagues wrote a blog last year, Musings on my performance appraisal, in which he considered how he could build time into his day for reflection on improving business performance. Well, his blog did part of its job, getting me thinking – well, reflecting to be more accurate – on the power of reflection. One reflection led to another and then to this blog, where I’m exploring the impact reflection can have on learning.
Reflection is a search for connections, a way of linking and constructing meaning from our learning and experiences that encourages the creation of insights and even wisdom. Reflection links a current experience to previous learnings. This involves drawing upon cognitive and emotional downloads from a variety of sources including visual, auditory, kinesthetic and tactile, as well as intuition. Reflection creates self-knowledge; it helps us take responsibility for our own learning and development; it is a tool for continuous improvement.
The movie Avatar is on TV again, but in 2009, when it was released, did you subject yourself to the 2 hours and 42 minutes because you thought you were one of the few who hadn’t seen it? And do you try to avoid the ‘free taster’ stands in supermarkets because you can’t trust yourself not to buy something from them afterwards? And don’t even get me started on the stampedes caused by a rare Pokémon appearing in Hyde Park…
Our traditional conception of pedagogy presumes that after a certain point, people no longer require instruction. We go to school, then to college, then to university, some do further training in a specialism. After that, we’re thrown out into the world to get on with the rest of our lives. In his talk ‘The Difference between Coaching and Teaching,’ Harvard Medical School professor Atul Gawande explained that elite athletes flatly reject this model. They believe it’s naïve, and that few people can maintain their best possible performance by themselves. For instance, upon being ranked world number one in 2011, Novak Djokovic didn’t sack his coach. In fact, he probably gave him a raise.
People in Learning and Development love big data, or at least the concept of big data. It’s a perennial fixture of key trend lists, and we’re warned to ignore it at our peril. But there is risk involved in the L&D community viewing the collection of data as an end in and of itself.