How do we digitally learn? How do you learn effectively in a workshop? What is the currency of digital learning?
By Tim T Dingle BSc (Hons) MIBiol PGCE MBA
Chief Development Officer at the Academy of Vocational and Professional Training.
When you want to acquire a new skill or apply some new knowledge, do you learn by passively sitting and listening to an expert lecture for 90 minutes without a break and 150 Power point slides? What do you actually retain that enhances the value and the currency of your learning. The currency is defined as something of value, or something that represents value: knowledge, gold, respect, or social media following, all represent different kinds of currency. In 2013 it could be that the currencies in digital and workshop learning are changing.
Learning is evolving and not simply by the tools that actuate it. The process of adopting new learning domains and materials (many digital) has exposed the need for new skills. It is debatable whether or not such skills need to be expressly taught, or if they’re simply the residue of intense, well-designed learning experiences. Whether or not they are old learning (content) with a new coat of paint, or genuinely represent a paradigm shift in learning priorities, it is difficult to doubt their constant application in a 21st century world that is super fast connected, digital, omni-social and multi-faceted.
No longer is it considered sufficient to teach children to simply read and write, and fill in the middle with discrete facts about history, mathematics, and scientific processes. There are new skills that transcend content areas, in this way functioning as natural pathways out of old thinking: creativity, problem-solving and collaboration. One can problem-solve across and within topics formerly thought of as science and history and moving between them both moves them beyond academia, and back to the real world. This is possible because flexible cognitive and creative capacities are not rigid.
The brain science literature suggests that workshop learners understand and remember more when they talk about what they are learning. However, there are some people who attend workshop and training seem to have information wash over them and are uncomfortable with talking or moving. So, to get improved retention and learning in both digital and workshops:
1. Do something physical when you learn: incorporate some sort of movement or body activity every 20 minutes, on line or face-to-face.
2. Walk and talk, walk and learn: I do this a lot in half-day or full-day trainings. Participants might do an exercise, but the results are on the wall for a debrief. Using a tablet for true learning as you move.
3. Flip Chart Products: This is where participants will write specific responses on labelled charts on the wall at designated times. It can be an answer to a question, a question learners still have, a summary statement, an opinion about the content, facts they want to remember, or how they plan to use the content. Then stick it on the wall. It works with digital media as well- plaster the wall with paper!
With the proper technologies and thoughtful new methodologies, courses can become content infinite. When the learning goals supersede the content areas, things begin to change. As the currencies in digital learning evolve, they necessarily evolve the learning with them.