What makes this particular approach so powerful? Intellectually, it appeals to the visual, auditory and kinesthetic learner. Behaviorally, it creates high levels of engagement and interaction. Intuitively, the metaphor often used in the learning visual provides a “big picture” that draws all the content together in a meaningful way. But that is not the whole story. Read the full blog post, The Power of the Learning Visual, now.
It doesn’t matter if you call it a Work Mat, Discovery Map, Learning Map or, as we do, a Learning Blueprint. I’m constantly in awe of the power of this medium to change attitudes and pass on knowledge. The solutions we develop utilizing learning visuals consistently garner comments such as “This is the best training experience I have ever had,” but more importantly show significantly enhanced learning retention and use.
So what makes this particular approach so powerful? Intellectually, it appeals to the visual, auditory and kinesthetic learner. Behaviorally, it creates high levels of engagement and interaction. Intuitively, the metaphor often used in the learning visual provides a “big picture” that draws all the content together in a meaningful way.
While these are certainly considerations when choosing to recommend a Learning Blueprint for our client, there is a fundamental reason for its impact: a well designed learning visual taps into the power of stories.
Stories are one of the oldest, and certainly one of the most basic ways that we learn. For most of human existence the primary way of passing on hard-earned lessons was through story telling. If it can be said there is a primal way we are hard-wired to learn, it would be through the power of stories.
What makes the learning visual a particularly powerful story medium is that the learner becomes a part of the story. Of course, a story line is often built into visual and experience, but the real power is that learners become both the storytellers and players in the story. Good design begets an experience in which each table builds its own story and each person has a role in that story. This taps into our natural inclination to internalize and remember stories. Retention and impact grow, because the story becomes personal, it becomes my story for each learner.
The point of all training provided by an organization is to improve people’s performance on the job. For this to happen, employees must use what they have learned when they are working. In their 1992 book, Transfer of Training, Mary Broad and John Newstrom evaluate the impact of three key resources on skills application – the facilitator/designer of the training, the trainee, and the trainee’s manager. Their analysis showed that the largest contributor to whether people actually use what they learn on the job is the manager. And the biggest factor was not what the manager did after the training (like coaching) but what the manager did before the training occurred.
Since Broad and Newstrom’s work was conducted nearly twenty years ago, and there have been a lot of innovations in how we deliver training, including eSimulations, virtual classroom, social learning, and mobile, I was curious to ponder whetherÂ the role of the manager in learning transfer has changed?
Based on a three-year study of over 10,000 learners by KnowledgePool, not that much. Their research shows that “where learners receive line manager support, 94% go on to apply what they learned”. Apparently, managers do still make a key difference
The question this raises for me is, as we move to more “bite-size” and ubiquitous training through social and mobile learning, how do we continue to ensure that we tap into this critical resource to ensure learning gets transferred? As stated above, Broad and Newstrom’s work indicated that what a manager does before the training session occurs is even more critical to learning transfer than what they do afterwards.
In 1991-92 its very likely that a manager would have had significant opportunity to interact with the trainee before a training session, if nothing more than to ensure there was coverage for their absence to attend a class. Even if the training was offered via elearning, it is likely the manager was aware of when the employee was going to take a particular course.
Now jump to today (and even more so into the near future). The trainee may be just as likely to complete a 5-10 minute mobile learning session while waiting in line at the cafeteria or bank drive-thru. Or perhaps, they’ve spent part of their lunch time browsing through recent postings in their favorite Community of Practice portal. Will the manager even know that they have engaged in learning? It may be that self initiated training like this will consistently have a high transfer of learning, but I think we are failing our clients if we don’t continue to find ways to engage managers and tap into the impact they have in ensuring that what is learned gets used on the job. Just as we are developing new and innovative ways to deliver training, we will need to find new and innovative ways for manager involvement.