Monthly Archives: April 2020

Why We Don’t Need the Lights On for True Learning to Happen

An international organization had convened a group of technical experts in their specific fields to share best practice techniques with a broad group of managers of technical facilities. When the power failed sometime around day three the initial reaction was to abandon the session. Somebody then suggested: “Why doesn’t Joe just tell us about his presentation – he’s up next and he knows his stuff so he doesn’t actually need the slides.”

So what was different when the lights went out?

How did a power failure lead to better learning?

At the learning review at the end of the day, the feedback was that everyone had learned the most during Joe’s session.

How was Joe’s session so different to all the others? 

When relatively complex and/or technical content needs to be learned, the technical and subject matter experts in the business are usually responsible for putting it across to the rest of the organization. The default approach is generally a series of slide presentations.

When the focus is primarily on content and not much attention is given to the learning process, i.e. the way in which the learners will absorb the new material. we can fall into a “training” rather than a “learning” space where the trainer as the expert becomes the most important person in the room. If we want the best learning to happen, we need to focus on the learners and rather act as facilitators to smooth the way for them to engage with the content.

Some of the reasons why the best learning happened when the lights went out are the following:

  • There was a more relaxed, conversational vibe. Learning is primarily a social activity and when Joe was no longer behind a desk focusing on his slides, he was free to engage more actively with the group and they with him
  • There was more scope for questions from the group and Joe was able to pick up where information was needed and adjust his focus accordingly

Slide packs with technical knowledge are extremely useful as resources or reference guides. Offering them alongside a carefully designed learning process is a winning combination, 

If your organization experiences challenges with making complex content accessible, contact us for some ideas of how to increase the chances of true learning.

Lockdown as a Life Long Learning Lab

Right now we’re faced with a level of change and uncertainty unlike anything we’ve experienced before.

Neuroscience tells us that uncertainty is perceived as a threat by our brains. This can trigger the fight, fight or freeze response, shutting us down and threatening our sense of purpose in the world. But our brains are also always primed for new learning. 

What if we could turn this period of change and uncertainty into a life long learning laboratory for ourselves? The World Economic Forum lists life long learning as an essential competence for navigating the uncertain future.

Think for a moment of what you’ve learned in the last few days: There are many opportunities for new learning in a shutdown: mastering different technology for work and social connections, creating spaces and new routines for work and family and managing our time in new ways.

Try regularly reviewing the new skills you have learnt to cope most effectively with your current time of uncertainty but don’t stop there. Turn inwards to reflect on what changes are happening in your inner landscape that will future proof you for whatever may lie ahead. Finally, think about the impact this could have on your purpose in the world.

In summary, Coaching Café’s Life Long Learning Lab consists of reflecting on these three review questions:

  • Lockdown Landscape: What new things am I doing and learning?
  • Internal Landscape: What am I learning about myself and who i am becoming
  • My Future Landscape: How will I show up differently as I live out my purpose in the future?

Right now, the best thing you can do for the whole world is to use this opportunity to make the most of yourself.

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