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Learn to Innovate – Innovate to Learn

Our work with innovative clients around the world always uncovers a belief that the best talent in any organisation is characterised by constant learning, people propelling themselves forward with personal curiosity and an openness to change. Never has this been truer than in this era of skills reinvention. Yet, not everyone is optimising their own learning. Have you ever stopped for a moment and considered how you learn? How you can you get better or innovate the way that you personally learn and support others in improving their learning? In this blog, we look at some of the innovations that can help.

And before you assume this is just about gadgets, let me say: technology has and will continue to play an important role in innovation in learning, but learning should never be about technology alone. The secret behind learning is using technology to enhance or compliment how, when and where we learn.

Learning to learn

One of the greatest gifts you can give yourself or indeed others is a clearer cognisance of how you go about learning. When we learn, most of us simply try to absorb information and then have a go at practising or applying it.

Really, the first step you should take is learning to learn. It’s a muscle you can strengthen. To get started:

  1. Step back & consider how you learnt that new knowledge or information
  2. What techniques did you consciously or subconsciously use to help you remember?
  3. In what way have you practiced or applied your new knowledge or skill?
  4. What specifically will you do differently going forward to improve the way you learn?

Top Tip: I highly recommend trying the Learn to Learn app created by Arun Pradham, one of my favourite learning thinkers & speaker from Australia, for more guidance on how to successfully apply learning to learn. 

Working out loud

One of my favourite techniques to help better learning is Working Out Loud. This can literally mean vocalising what you are doing, but it can also simply mean writing and sharing your ideas and thinking. Forcing yourself to describe and translate out loud what is in your head, will help you crystallise, shape and sharpen your thoughts. This approach lends itself to cultivating a learning culture within your organisation too.

But if you work in an international, multi-cultural organisation, your native language may not be one others know. This is where technology comes in to play. The cost of translating learning into other languages has traditionally been time-consuming and expensive. But with the advances in machine learning from companies like Google or Microsoft, instant and accurate translations have become a reality. I recently witnessed first-hand how an Ed Microlearning (mobile learning software provider) not only translated, but swapped out a whole online learning module in the blink of an eye. All that was required before releasing the module was a bit of minor editing.

Flipped Classroom

The flipped classroom concept has been around for a while, but we are now seeing this innovation being applied more frequently and with greater success. And of course, the classroom no longer needs to be a physical one.

In a recent sales leadership programme we ran, participants were asked to deepen their understanding of a number of key approaches. They then attended a live virtual classroom (VC) with fellow participants and a couple of seasoned leaders where they shared perspectives and answered questions from the self-study we’d asked them to do. This approach was repeated for five consecutive weeks and participants valued coming in to live sessions armed with understanding and questions. This community of future sales leaders rated the overall experience as 9 out of 10 and reported that the live and self-study parts of the programme were of equal value.

Virtual and Augmented Reality

VR and AR were trumpeted as the next big thing a couple of years ago, but the reality was far from ideal, often down to clunky hardware and mediocre content that used buggy software. While the hype may have gone, the benefits of these technologies will come to fruition soon.

Advances in Virtual Reality will eventually provide powerful and emotional immersive experiences through which we can practice new skills in a risk-free environment before applying them in the real world. Meanwhile, augmented reality can have a significant impact on ‘just in time’ performance support, where extra information or guidance can be over laid into your real-world situation, whilst you are attempting a task.

My steadfast prediction: Artificial Intelligence

Our world is already running on AI and research suggests that it is starting to penetrate Learning and Development. While AI in learning has huge potential, we have a way to go before we see its real impact. With this in mind, I’d like to share two predictions that I believe will soon become a reality and common place in the L&D space. 

  1. Automated Content Creation: We know that machine learning is already supporting the learner journey, but I believe that AI powered design engines will be able to create a ‘first pass’ at authoring the learning for structured subjects such as process or compliance training before being given to an instructional designer to review and fine tune, thus saving time and cost.

  2. Before-time performance support: AI will eventually provide not just ‘in-time’ support, but even ‘before- time’ performance support, by using algorithm-driven engines to predict and recommend resources just before you need them. For example, your learning assistant (let’s call them Sage) will know you are about to attend a communications idea review meeting with your creative design agency and, with the aid of AI, send you a checklist of the top five things to consider whilst you are on the train to the meeting.

Innovation in learning offers us all an exciting future ahead. But remember, like most things, it starts with your own curiosity and willingness to learn. Give yourself a gift for life and learn how you learn best.

Bruce Levi is one of Brand Learning’s learning experts. For help with designing programmes that create lasting learning and behaviour change, please do get in touch.


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