Capabilities

Take Your Instructor-Led Training. Take Your Virtual Learning. Now Put Them Both Together, And…

We feel your pain, because we’ve been there, too.

We love our face-to-face classroom training, but in the age of tight budgets and geographically dispersed workforces, it’s fast becoming a thing of the past.  It was fun while it lasted.

I know it’s easy to dis on e-learning and e-simulation. And while there is still a plague of shallow point-and-click programs out there, a lot of folks are savvy enough to build in richer methods of engagement. But I frequently bump up against the limitations of online interaction. Don’t you? There is almost always content that requires the benefit of interaction with other learners and a live facilitator.

If only there was a way to create a hybrid that delivers the best of classroom and e-learning.

Enter virtual instructor-led training, or VILT.

Okay, don’t tune me out yet. Plenty of us have had lame experiences with new technologies like Acrobat Connect, Live Meeting, GoToMeeting, and others, which have simply become another medium for slogging through PowerPoint with a little bit of Q&A thrown in. (And if we are being honest, no one wants to look stupid by asking a question that they fear might have been answered while they were instant messaging a friend, or catching up on the latest web news.)

VILT took a good concept – less time and money – to its logical conclusion. Along the way, it lost sight of how people really learn.

But all is not lost.

We have discovered that VILT can be engaging, interactive and built on solid adult learning principles, while still saving time and money. Blueline designers and developers are pushing the envelope of this new medium with a broad range of proven immersive teaching methods including story lines and passports, online team assignments and collaboration, and rich interactive debriefs.

Imagine highly engaging team-based activities including Socratic discussions, remote synchronous role-plays, networking, and competitive team challenges.  And individual exercises that create “whole brain” learning through visual templates, use of competition and interactive quizzes.

Yes, it can be done. And when it all comes together, it is a thing of beauty.

Do you have existing instructor-led content that needs to be transformed into high-impact, engaging, VILT?  We’d love to tell you about some of the methods that we have implemented in organizations all around the world. Call the training experts at Blueline Simulations today.

Brain Research on Intelligence and Working Memory: IQ is fixed by the age of 15 — Myth:

Researchers often break total intelligence into two categories. The first they call Fluid Intelligence or IQ, which is your raw ability to perceive relationships, reason and solve problems independent of any specific experience or education. The second is the sum total of everything you have experienced and learned. This is often called Crystallized Intelligence. It is the two working together that produce your total intelligence.

While education and training can clearly improve Crystallized Intelligence, it was thought that Fluid Intelligence was fixed by some point in the teen-age years. This belief has recently been called into question.

It turns out that the biggest single component of Fluid Intelligence or IQ is the working memory capacity: This is your ability to hold and manipulate things in memory. For example, to hold all the components of a math problem in your head and solve the problem, or, in a conversation with someone, to remember a person’s complete statement, analyze the statement, and come up with a logical response. It is this second component of being able to logically process the information that separates working memory from short-term memory, which you use to temporarily remember a phone number while you dial it on your phone.

Working memory capacity was thought to be fixed until researchers like Martin Buschkuehl, Susanne Jaeggi and John Jonides, all from the University of Michigan, demonstrated that with the right practice it can be increased. Increasing working memory capacity improves IQ, which makes the statement in our header a myth. Increasing working memory capacity also seems to be effective for improving behavior and academic outcomes for people with ADHD.

Motivation Theory: Offering cash payments for good test scores improves learning outcomes – Myth!

Offering cash payments or gift certificates for good grades actually decreases learning outcomes in the long run, and often encourages cheating. This is especially true for courses in technical subjects or mathematics.

A few research studies have shown that cash payments produce a limited improvement in behaviors that are easy for the student – like wearing a uniform or going to the library. However, when the task takes diligent work, like learning math concepts, the payments are actually detrimental in the long run.

The best way to get a student to do something that requires diligent work is to increase their intrinsic motivation to learn. Some have argued that if a student has very low intrinsic motivation to learn, cash payments or other significant extrinsic forms of motivation might jump start the learning process and give students a positive experience that eventually leads to an increased intrinsic motivation to learn.

Two of the most respected researchers in this field are Richard Ryan PhD and Edward Deci PhD who both work at the University of Rochester. Their research shows that cash payments and other significant extrinsic forms of motivation actually decrease a student’s natural internal motivation. They also have developed and tested an effective system for building internal motivation to learn.

Improves Learning Outcomes – Myth

If you recall my post last week…over the next weeks we are uncovering myths.

Here is the first one:

Learning Styles – Myth:

The latest research shows that trying to match instructional strategies to an individual’s learning style (verbal, visual, kinesthetic) is ineffective. In fact there is almost no support for thinking that learning styles exist.

The most comprehensive study to date on learning styles was done by the respected researchers Pashler, McDaniel, Rohrer and Bjork. The study called Learning Styles: Concepts and Evidence was published in the December 2008 edition of Psychological Science in the Public Interest. It turns out that this myth is actually counterproductive because teaching students about learning styles leads to the false conclusion that they are not capable of learning if material is presented in a method that doesn’t match their learning style.

Unfortunately, selling learning styles has become a big business. A search of learning styles on Amazon produced over four thousand books and products that promote the myth of Learning Styles.

Can You Spot the Myths?

Which of the following ideas are myths and which are true?

  1. Learning Styles
    The latest research shows that teaching learners about learning styles and trying to match instructional strategies to an individual’s learning style (verbal, visual, kinesthetic) improves learning outcomes.
  2. Motivation
    The latest research shows that offering cash payment or other valuable extrinsic rewards for good test scores (on courses that cover technical or mathematical related subjects) improves learning outcomes.
  3. IQ
    The latest research shows that IQ is fixed in most children by the age of 15. After it is fixed, students can always learn more, but IQ cannot be improved.
  4. Test Taking Ability
    There is no such thing as a naturally bad test taker; yet, if an adult learner believes he is a naturally bad test taker, when he starts a test the fight or flight systems activate in the brain and retard higher-level thinking skills required to do well on the test. In short, a person’s belief about his test taking ability becomes self-fulfilling.

Over the next four weeks we will explore each of these statements and uncover the myths.