Month: May 2021

beaded, cobweb, web

Power of forgetting

I watched an exciting webinar today on accelerating learning. One thing that coincided with my recent experience was that I recently completed a piece of learning and had difficulty remembering much of it a few days later. The design was good, the content was interesting, but still, I have not remembered much.

This is a problem we often have when we create learning interventions. The digital versions look sleek, with lots of graphics, but the content somehow does not stick.

What transpired is that power to forget is much greater than the power to remember. 

It is so for several reasons.

One, how our minds work. We discard information that we (subconsciously) deem unimportant.

Two, the complexity of information is too much for our minds to process (and remember) in one session.

And three, remembering takes effort. For the learners to exert that effort, there needs to be personal motivation, the right environment, personalisation, and design that considers the problem.

So how do we overcome those challenges?

Possible solutions could be:

  1. Strip the learning of everything that is not essential. Bring it down to simple and easy concepts to remember and understand.  Bring down the number of concepts (or items) learners need to remember immediately in one session. Enough to understand and create the basis for later learning.
  2. Implement and expand learning over time and in small chunks.
  3. Use technology to supplement learning with the knowledge required later and that is available to access quickly and efficiently – LMS, Desk aid, Knowledge Banks, and similar.
  4. Try to personalise the learning – good learning needs analysis to include more than just the role of the learners.
  5. Ensure that design is such to engage the learners and motivate them to invest the effort.
  6. Use adult learning methodologies thoughtfully, for example, repetition, recall, immediate use and practice.
  7. Allow learners time to step back and focus on learning.

Be willing (and brave) to test and experiment with learning design.

“If you wish to forget anything on the spot, make a note that this thing is to be remembered.”
― Edgar Allan Poe

drop, splash, impact

What did you learn today?

There is more than one kind of learning. There is personal, professional, people, behaviour, situations, how things work.

Learning opportunities are available to us in every moment of our waking life. Every time we pay attention to those moments, realise or discover something new, we improve ourselves as persons or professionals.

Unfortunately, many go through their daily routines and rarely pay attention to those learning opportunities.

I often ask colleagues and friends, ‘What did you learn today?’.

Most of the time, I am met with a blank stare. They do not understand the question, or why am I asking such a thing.

The best way to explain the value of daily learning is to get people to experience those moments themselves.

So what is required? What is my routine?

If my learning hasn’t happened through a planned exercise (a webinar or similar), I would take time to reflect. I would try to consolidate or improve my understanding of something that has happened on the day.

I would find a quiet moment and stop paying attention to the ‘outside’ and bring the focus back to me. Usually, I do not have to consider what I am going to think about. It comes on its own.

I ask questions. Why did something happen? What did I do? Could it be done differently? Why did I react as I did, or why somebody reacted as they did?

The outcome is an ‘aha’ moment. A spark and a new neuron connection is created.

I thoroughly recommend this practice at least once a day.

Nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know.

– Pema Chödrön