September 9, 2015

“The world of education is currently undergoing a massive transformation as a result of the digital revolution. This transformation is similar to the transition from apprenticeship to universal schooling that occurred in the 19th century as a result of the industrial revolution. In the apprenticeship era, most of what people learned occurred outside of school. Universal schooling led people to identify learning with school, but now the identification of the two is unraveling.

All around us people are learning with the aid of new technologies: children are playing complex video games, workers are interacting with simulations that put them in challenging situations, students are taking courses at online high schools and colleges, and adults are consulting Wikipedia. New technologies create learning opportunities that challenge traditional schools and colleges. These new learning niches enable people of all ages to pursue learning on their own terms. People around the world are taking their education out of school into homes, libraries, Internet cafes, and workplaces, where they can decide what they want to learn, when they want to learn, and how they want to learn.” (RETHINKING EDUCATION IN THE AGE OF TECHNOLOGY: THE DIGITAL REVOLUTION AND THE SCHOOLS By Allan Collins and Richard Halverson)

In 1944 the G.I. Bill changed the makeup of our college population and set new ground rules for the practice of adult live instruction throughout American business and industry. Prior to the G.I. Bill, less than 9 percent of Americans ever attained a college degree. “Live instruction-as-lecture” was reserved for the intellectual elite.

As we now know, this “reading/lecture” education model, applied universally, has not worked well for the majority of Americans.

Fortunately, there is another form of live instruction that is both active and effective.

Live instruction in K-12 education was (and essentially still is) multimedia in design — “expose and practice” in small discrete segments. The learner reads or hears a little bit of information, practices what she has learned at home through homework assignments, and then reads or hears a little bit more about the subject the next day. A proven method of live instruction that works for most, because the learner becomes an active participant in his own education.

Effective multimedia learning, in fact, is based on these very same principles.

Unfortunately, the passive “live instruction-as-lecture” method has — mistakenly — become the norm for our adult working population today.

There are three reasons why organizations can’t help but fail when using this 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 available from a “right sized” workforce to do live instruction in the “expose and practice” discrete segment way.

Thirdly, the complexity of the skills required to operate under today’s workplace requirements goes far beyond what has been required in the past.

So why not use the full motion media learning technologies to address these new challenges?

In that way we can keep the best of what has worked before — “expose and practice” in small discrete segments — while combining the awesome power of video, optional full audio, and hands-on practice.

Our American workforce is very smart, talented and creative. They have always learned best by seeing and hearing. Let’s give them the learning tools they need to achieve success.

More on Monday – – –

Bill Walton: co-Founder, ITC Learning
(Mondays & Wednesdays)