Learning and Knowledge Retention.
Since my early days in teaching athletics first in a Country Club setting and then at University, I have always been intrigued by how people learn. In the earliest form of learning, as a parent or a preschool teacher, the tried and true methodology: – Show – Tell – Show – Try. We start by showing you what we are going to teach you. Then we will tell you what we just showed you. Telling a story is usually the best method here. Then we will show you again. Finally, you will try it yourself. Depending on risk and degree of difficulty we might even get into a “with assistance” – “to assistance” – “solo” type of structure.
It works. It has always worked. But today we have a lot more knowledge and examples of learning methods to draw upon. And they really help, if we design the learning experience properly.
Some points to start with and consider: – Chanty Hyder, an intern at Survey Anyplace provides us six high level results of their surveys.
- The storage capacity of the human brain is virtually unlimited.
- The mind needs to be exercised like any other muscle in the body.
- Our attention spans are getting shorter. We are bombarded with more things online.
- You are never too old to learn
- After one hour, people retain less than 50% of the information presented
- To learn. The brain builds on existing knowledge
I started teaching in a classroom at a very prestigious University. I was teaching students in the Physical Education Majors how to coach and teach water sports. We used seventy-five-minute lectures, followed by seventy-five minute “in the water” case examples of the lecture content. Two and a Half hours, three days a week. Tough duty. I had a class size of between 16 and 32 students, with one sometimes two teaching assistants.
At Learning Without Scars we started with a three-day classroom format, eight hours each day. That evolved to a two-day, fifteen-hour format. Within that structure we had four blocks of specific operations learning.
Then webinars arrived when everyone tried to reduce the cost of learning for equipment dealers. The webinars were first seventy-five minutes which we then shortened to one hour. I really didn’t like the webinar approach as a teacher as I could not see the students. As a teacher I rely on visual signals, facial or body language, to determine actual learning and comprehension.
Then we used a 3D camera and we broke the learning sessions down to ten to fifteen-minute increments, sometimes these increments were as short as five minutes BUT never more than fifteen minutes. At those breaks I would turn off the audio-visual presentation and appear in camera and talk to the group of students.
Today, we have Skype, and Zoom, and Microsoft with Teams and Google providing software that allows us to see each other and share screens and emulate a classroom type of experience. This has helped in the learning process.
That still requires a schedule that the students and the teachers have to fit in to their daily lives. That is where internet-based learning takes over. Learning is available when you want it and where you want it. You can fit the learning into your life and your schedule.
So back to Ms. Hyder and her points in the paper “7 Facts You Didn’t Know About Your Memory and Knowledge Retention” I referenced above. This is how we have designed and continue to refine our classes.
Each class follows a similar format. We have a Pretest to ascertain the understanding each student has about the course content before they start the class. Then we will assign reading materials, then they enter a slide show with embedded audio tracks. This segment will end or sometimes will have a film clip inserted into the segment. Then there is a short quiz. Then another segment sometimes with a quiz or perhaps a short survey or a short essay. Each segment is approximately ten to fifteen minutes in length and a class consists of eight to ten segments. Finally, there is an assessment of the learning of each student at the end of the class. We require a score of 80% in order to pass out of each class and go on to another. The student can repeat the class as many times as they want, however, they can only take the final assessment three times before we block them if they haven’t achieved the 80% score.
This is in keeping with the current “learning and retention” theory in use today. At Learning Without Scars we are constantly researching and adapting. As new techniques and methods are identified that provide better results, we adjust our programs.
I believe, more than ever, that in today’s work environment the dealership must be more involved in training. This training has to be in the most effective and efficient method possible. That way they will be able to attract more talented and motivated employees. One of my Core Beliefs is that Passionate People Perform. Your employees will make or break your business. With talented people you will prevail and provide long lasting high levels of customer service and loyal customers. Without them you won’t. It is as simple as that.
The Time is Now.