Learning About Learning – The 2015 Training Conference

Have you taught a class or given a presentation lately? Have you ever received training on teaching others?

This past week I attended the 2015 Training Conference & Expo, sponsored by Training Magazine. The conference was held here in Atlanta at the Georgia World Congress Center. I learned tons of new things. More specifically, I learned a lot about learning. And I look forward to taking these ideas back to my training team and finding ways to apply them to our training curriculum. This post delivers a few thoughts, quotes, and resources I gleaned from the conference.

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You may not be a formal teacher or trainer, but let’s face it: we’re all teaching someone. And I believe we all want to be better learners.

Thoughts and Highlights

Telling isn’t training. Most people learn best when you show them, when they have an experience or make their own discovery during or after the learning session. So don’t think you can just verbally communicate a new idea or task during a short classroom session and they automatically get it and/or apply it.

Adult learning, or what I call learning in the workplace setting is very different from the traditional educational model we grew up with. And the big difference lies in our motivation. Hopefully, as we grow into adults our learning steers away from thoughts of rigid requirements or a mandatory “sentence” of 12 long years. Instead, we seek out learning experiences to improve our skills, increase our knowledge, save time, make a better living, get closer to God, etc.

Learning sticks better when you incorporate stories. This has been proven through various studies, but it’s probably intuitively obvious to many. So don’t barrage your audience with too many facts and statistics. As an alternative, share stories and case studies. That’s what people are going to remember most. And in those stories, embed the learning objectives you want them to take away. I can’t quote back to you many Bible verses, verbatim. But, boy I can remember Bible stories, the characters, and what God did through those people.

Every few minutes stop the lecture and interject an activity. Change the context of your training, and people will stay engaged. Think about the time you taught your son or daughter to ride a bike. Yes, you probably waxed eloquently on how to ride a bike. And they stared at you and yawned. You shared techniques, maybe a few of your own war stories. The frequency of yawns began to drop. Then you showed them. Their eyes opened wider. They’re thinking, “this is going to be good.” And finally—yes, finally—they got to do it on their own. Maybe they fell the first time or two, so you start over. Reflect back on what happened, remind them about the techniques, but get out of the way and let them keep trying.

Training is not about information dumps and impressing people with what you know. It’s about getting people to learn the knowledge and skills that will enable and empower them to become better parents, students, workers, citizens, leaders, and professionals.

More training is not always the solution. I can’t teach someone how to have a better attitude or a great work ethic. That comes from within, who we are–our character and spirit. We all have the responsibility to apply what we learn and govern our own behaviors. A person’s performance is shaped by many factors, and training may only play a small part.

Quotes

“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” Benjamin Franklin

“I can explain something to you, but I can’t understand it for you.” Anonymous

“Brain Rule # 4: We don’t pay attention to boring things.” John Medina

“Brain Rule #10: Vision trumps all other senses.” John Medina

“Waiting to be happy limits our brain’s potential for success, whereas cultivating positive brains makes us more motivated, efficient, resilient, creative and productive, which drives performance upward.” Shawn Achor

Book Recommendations

Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath

Telling Ain’t Training by Harold Stolovitch and Erica Keeps

The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor

Brain Rules by John Medina

Zap the Gaps by Ken Blanchard

I hope you enjoyed these few tidbits from the 2015 Training Conference. Please leave a comment and share your favorite teaching or learning tips and techniques.

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4 Responses to Learning About Learning – The 2015 Training Conference

  1. Scott, this post has been very insightful for me. I’m a son of educators, so the traditional “teaching” model has been firmly embedded in me. Thank you for sharing these insights and for helping me to become a better teacher.

    • Thanks, Henry and good to hear from you. Both approaches are indispensible. For example, I don’t know where I would be if I hadn’t learned the 3 R’s in the traditional educational system. The main difference is that when we are going through the traditional educational model we aren’t sure when or where we will apply the learning.

      But in the Corporate or Adult Learning Model it’s really the other way around. The adult learner comes with a specific need, application or motivation–learn a new skill, who to vote for, how to file my taxes, how to fix a car—so they seek the learning on their own (I’m speaking in general terms). Adults also come to training with engrained habits that often need to be unlearned.

      As a potential hiring manager, I’m counting on the new employee to come in with the 3 R’s—and to be good at them. That’s why corporate training doesn’t focus that much on the 3 R’s. We focus on bringing people in and then training them on specific tasks, skills, and knowledge needed to perform the job.

  2. Scott, I always enjoy reading blogs, Keep up the good work. Mark

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