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Legendary? Training Approaches Slow to Change

Training can happen anywhere;
After a recent car repair, I waited in the service area for someone to drive my car around. A technician in his twenties, who appeared to be on his break, stood near me

portrait of a mechanic using a tablet in his garage

watching something intently on his mobile device. At first, I assumed he was snapchatting or possibly watching a silly cat video. Then I realized it was an instructional video, and he was using a few minutes of down time to continue his learning.

Use your left-handed torque wrench to get a firm hold on the catalytic diode that is situated next to the flux capacitor…

It re-enforced that learning is happening anywhere, at any time, and on practically any device. Anyone in the business of delivering training—or tracking student data and continuing education credits via class registration software—should know by now that mobile learning is not just a nice alternative. For many learners, it’s the only method. Anyone involved in learning should be implementing new ways to deliver content in the formats trainees demand, even if it’s a far leap from traditional learning techniques.

A freaky look at learning

But more than just the format needs to change. Stephen J. Dubner and Steven Levitt, the guys who write the Freakanomics books, have a podcast. In a 2014 show, they explored how children learn versus adults. Here’s the transcript. The podcast covers a lot of ground, including an interview with Alison Gopnik, a professor at the University of California at Berkeley. She studies the minds of children. Gopnik believes small children are much better at ͞research and development, otherwise known as exploring new ideas, while adults are better at ͞production and marketing. While children often may seem distracted, they’re exploring everything around them. Their shotgun approach to their surroundings leads to learning, and they are much more open to new ways of learning. Adults, conversely, seldom try new approaches. We tend to stick to the same old ways even if they are not effective.

“Mostly we’re doing it because we’ve always done it.”

The same old, same old
In the Freakanomics podcast, Gopnik says she sees this resistance to change first hand as a professor. ͞We give lectures. And the origins of that are the days when there weren’t printed books, so you had one manuscript and the professor was reading from the manuscript because the students didn’t have books. It is literally a medieval instructional technique. But we’ve been doing it for hundreds and hundreds of years. It’s kind of what you do when you’re a faculty member. And the fact that we have no evidence at all—in fact, we have some evidence to the contrary—that this is a good way to get anybody to learn anything, doesn’t keep us from doing it. Mostly we’re doing it because we’ve always done it.

Across the hall from our offices is a large training room used by the headquarters for a chain of restaurants. Someone wrote a note on the training room door last week which read͞Legendary Learning in Progress.͟ The trainees sat at rows of tables facing a lecturer at a podium. Maybe what was going on in there was legendary, but it looked like the same old training methods of teacher talk/student listen.

Still, changes in training are being pushed along–if sometimes slowly–by mobile technology, as the young automotive technician proved. If you have thoughts on mobile learning or any other related topic, please use the form below to get in touch.

Article By:

Ron Smith

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