Having recently had a much-needed week away from work visiting places of historical interest I have been reflecting on how our learning about these places is not necessarily suited to individual learning preferences.
For me personally nothing gladdens my heart more when people say please walk around and explore – at Hughenden this is the case. Guides are available in the room both in person and handouts to provide extra information as and when required. This way I get an opportunity to look at the things that really interest me and generally that it what I remember the most – for example I also visited Chartwell and one of the objects that interested me there was a vase on Churchill’s desk which I have then gone off to research further.
On the opposite end of the scale for me are handsets which are frequently given out – the impact is that everyone gets the same information and it also creates learning blockages where everyone is trying to look at the same thing at the same time and if can’t see it properly then I lose interest when actually it may be something right up my street. It also means that I can’t discuss whatever takes my interest with the person I am with for fear of missing a nugget of information from the handset.
One exhibition that did this particularly well was the Pink Floyd exhibition at the V and A which when people approached an exhibit would automatically link to the song and commentary which was linked to it. This encourages learners to focus on what interests them and is discovery learning which is as Jerome Bruner notes where “Learners are encouraged to discover facts and relationships for themselves”
My other observation from my travels is related to wider learning – I do love a good walk (I also enjoy a family bag of crisps which does tend to negate the walk!) Often people congregate the main buildings of a stately home and as soon as you go out to the wider environment you tend not to see as many people – I appreciate there are many reasons for this i.e. accessibility, fitness but isn’t this like learning at work we go on a course and bob’s your uncle that topic is done. Alternatively, as L&D professionals we can encourage people to go and find out more by
- Building a learning community where individuals can share resources that they come across which are useful to the topic. DPG have a particularly good example of this.
- Display useful resources in our workshops – a try before you buy approach if you will so people can flick through books
- Having a further reading list in the back of any workbooks or handbooks
- Creating a resource library where people can access these resources
My specialist area is working on management development programmes and some of the things I like to include in the design are (to name just a few)
- Continuous Professional Records to be completed and learning shared at the beginning of every session
- Participants to actively share one-piece learning with their colleagues via Yammer linked to the last session
- Use of digital learning including podcasts
- Participants to research topics and to present this back during the session to create peer to peer learning
Learning and development when done well is impactful, insightful and creates a curiosity to find out more. When it is done badly it is a tick box exercise involving watching the clock and participants not gaining anything from it.
I know which one type of L&D professional I would rather be – what about you??