“Education always trails Training by ten years or more when it comes to adopting new learning innovations.”

That generalization has been around for several decades — and, for good reason. Education is so institutionalized that it arrogantly believes that, “What was good for us before is good enough today.” Consequently, they expect their students to adapt to “their way” instead of adapting themselves to the changes in the learning culture that have surrounded their students’ daily lives.

Corporate Training, on the other hand, has more quickly moved to address the learning challenges they face. After all, they are dealing with the bottom line issue of profitability. They have to pay attention to learning culture changes or many of their workers will not learn enough to improve job performance and operational efficiency.

Today we live primarily in a “television learning culture.” People get much more of their information and form many more of their opinions from what they see on the tube rather than through the historical practice of reading newspapers and magazines (just look at the crises facing print journalism today).

In terms of skills acquisition, most people are visual learners. Seeing, Hearing, and Doing — in combination — is still the best way. And, that is why at least half of our population will be better served with multi-sensory learning (nearly 40% of our citizens do not comprehend beyond a 4th Grade reading level).

Today, more than at any other time, it is just as important to know what doesn’t work as it is to know what does. So what kind of learning should you avoid?:

• Shun Lecture/Reading-Only Courses. Nearly half of our population has little chance to learn using such exclusionary courses.
• Close the door to PowerPoint presentations or written procedures that are posing as learning programs. As learning initiatives they are counterfeit.

Learning has changed in a revolutionary way. Our traditional education and training leaders must, first, recognize and, then adopt the newer, more effective ways. (Even traditional subjects like Reading & Writing Skills and Applied Math can be taught effectively with knowledgeably designed media instruction.)

Reading and writing skills need not be de-emphasized. However, multi-sensory media deserves an equal place for the many whose learning culture requires it. Learning should be our end game and the means much more inclusive.

Failure to implement these newer, more powerful, learning platforms will be at our own peril.

After all is said and done, aren’t the learning outcomes our ultimate goal? Those outcomes will trump the chosen method every time!

As Alvin Toffler so correctly observed: “The illiterate of the 21st Century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”

More on Thursday – – – – –

— Bill Walton, Founder, ITC Learning