November 11, 2013

Too many of the teaching methods used today are antiquated. They are no longer in sync with the predominate learning culture of today’s younger workforce. Out-of-date because they fail to recognize that their trainees/students get much of their information and form most of their opinions from what they see on television or, in some cases, what they encounter in their gaming programs.

Unfortunately, the passive “lecture/reading/testing” method of instruction — mistakenly — remains the norm for teaching most of our working-adult population — while continuing to ignore the fact that nearly 40% of our workforce does not well comprehend anything written above a 4th Grade reading level.

Does that surprise you? It shouldn’t! There is a large trainer group out there that still believes, “if it was good enough for me, it’s good enough for everybody.”

Change comes slowly. Better ways of doing things are delayed. But, eventually, the “better ways” are adopted — and, that is a very good thing.

Knowledge eventually trumps prejudice.

There are three reasons why organizations can’t help but fail when using the “lecture/reading/testing” approach.

First, workplace lectures have proven to be generally ineffective due to the listener’s inability to retain much more than a small amount of the instruction heard at a single sitting.

Secondly, there is not enough time (and, dollars) available from a “right sized” work force to do live instruction in the “expose and practice” discrete-segment way.

Thirdly, the complexity of the skills required to effectively function under today’s workplace requirements go far beyond what has been required of our non-reading population in the past.

So why not adopt the newer media-rich technologies to address these new challenges? In that way we can keep the best of what has worked in the past — “expose and practice” in small discrete segments — while combining the unique power of video, audio, and hands-on practice — all of it communicating with our workforce in ways they can readily understand.

In the past, workers learned through one-on-one contact how to emulate the local plant “expert.” For example, if one wanted to know how to take a pump apart — they learned to do so not by reading about it, but by doing it under the expert’s supervision.

Full-motion, fully interactive media training can play that critical role today.

For example, a student can simulate dial movement or pressure gauge readings in real time. And, whenever the printed word appears in the media courseware designs, an optional word-for-word audio button allows non-fluent readers to exercise that choice while the fluent readers can ignore it (the best answer for both groups).

Fully interactive, media-rich training is today’s best choice if you want to increase learning retention and better on-the-job performance.

More on Wednesday – – –

— Bill Walton, Founder
ITC Learning (Mondays & Wednesdays)