From time to time it seems like we go from famine to feast. We have no training for months, then like a buss many come along at once!
Many of us value learning new skills and knowledge. Indeed this is why quiz shows are so popular on TV. It is also why pub quiz nights are so popular at our local pubs and clubs. It is a mix of the social and the mental stimulation.
We like to learn stuff. Some of us prefer to learn things around our specialisms. Others like to learn anything that broadens our minds. Then of course there are the perpetual students… but they won’t be reading this!
Science supports this
Recent research into neuroscience (study of the brain) shows that when we are exposed to new ideas and experiences, or even stuff we knew but from a different perspective, then the connections in our brain increases. The more this happens, the ‘fitter’ our brain muscle becomes. To the brain ‘new’ just means different. Not ‘brand new’, not like anything before.
Learning and experiencing new things and even renewing our understanding of existing knowledge is good for our mental health.
For a variety of reasons, often it seems in business that there is no training. No courses. No ‘new stuff’. Many of us crave for something new to experience. But due to business pressures, budgets or just circumstances, it feels like we are in a learning famine. No new learning at all.
Of course, often this is not actually the case. Often we are ‘shown’ how to do something by our managers, team leaders or peers. Sometimes we ‘learn by doing’. Of course what many of us over look is that this informal learning is still learning. It could be called ‘training’. But often because it’s not called that we seem to forget that we were shown something new. Many of us have been conditioned to think of ‘training’ as formal, classroom based learning, where a person stands at the front and educate us. This is just one form of training or learning. There are many.
You know what happens, your employer finds a new source of ‘learning content’, what many call courses. These are often eLearning or online, self-directed learning of some form. It is not unusual for employers to have these as ‘required’ or ‘mandatory’ courses of learning. We go from a learning famine to a feast where it’s a bit like your Mum being there at dinner time saying you can’t leave the table until you have ‘cleared your plate’. We can quickly go from “wow I love this” to “Do I HAVE to eat this?” very quickly.
Sometimes it just feels like we are over full. The trick is much like a 12 course meal… eat slowly!
When there is lots of training to do, bite a little, let it digest, reflect and then have another bite. Cramming was great for our exams, but not much is retained in the long term. Learning should never be a ‘just’ tick box exercise.
It’s all about repetition
When some of us were in school we were often made to “write out lines”. Typically this would be repetition of a line or sentence about an inappropriate behaviour we performed many, many times. Often 100 seem to ring a bell with me. Repetition for effective learning does not have to take this carbon copy approach to the point and beyond boredom. Repetition for effective learning (of knowledge) should mean covering the same basic information in several different ways. It is often the variety that helps us fully understand the meaning.
A good ‘Instructional designer’ or designer of learning builds repetition into their training materials. That delivery method might be reading, eLearning or classroom based. But with each repetition the content is adapted or positioned slightly differently.
Repetition for learning certain skills does require precise repetition, such as learning to type, change gear on a car, playing golf etc.
Do I have to do that !@#$%^&* eLearning?
The short answer is yes. If that is the route your employer has chosen, we need to follow. For some of us it may not be the most effective way of learning. But it is a valid way. It is also a different way from how we may previously been presented with that content. Of course I don’t advocate being forced to do the same content in the same way time and time again. But once won’t hurt us. Indeed providing we start the learning ‘open minded’ that there is a new approach or piece of content here that will be of value to me. Our brain will learn something. If we approach with a close door, then we are just wasting our own time.
The best way to learn from eLearning, is when you have completed the online module, talk the contents through with your colleagues. Reflecting socially helps the repetition process, and builds understanding.
Computer games promote increased mental health
There is an increasing body of research that shows that as we get older, spending time using computer games for problem solving and increase our mental health and slow the onset of some aged related mental conditions – http://www.kcl.ac.uk/ioppn/news/records/2015/november/Brain-training-improves-memory-and-performance-of-everyday-tasks-in-older-people.aspx
Of course much of the current eLearning won’t help much here. But there is a link between regular interaction and focused thinking and mental wellbing. Not all employers will provide specific eLearning that improves mental agility and wellbing, at least it’s not common…yet :)
Any learning on a regular basis is good for us.
Not another training course. In organizations we seem to go from training feast to famine. Can eLearning really help in the battle of repetition to build learning?