by: James Chia
In a previous blog post, we shared with readers how learning needs to be ENGAGING, EFFICIENT and EFFECTIVE. For workplace L&D in particular, today’s managers and trainers face:
Organisations can no longer ‘pre-dump’ our teams with reams of training binders; it will get lost amongst everything else that they need to get up to speed on and daily work responsibilities!
L&D managers are convinced that the best way to train teams is by:
That’s where Nano Learning comes in.
What’s Nano Learning? Bite-sized, self-contained training content that is rich-media focused and peppered with knowledge checks to make sure learning has taken place.
Think of Nano Learning as ‘power bars’ that are consumed just before a key task or activity. The learning is contextual, just-in-time, and application-focused. Employees learn what’s needed, do quick assessments to confirm learning, and put their learning into action through the task. The practical application reinforces the learner, and gets the ‘muscle memory’ going.
So how do we create effective Nano Learning? Do we simply take our existing Powerpoint training decks and chop them up into 15-minute modules?
How do we create effective training?
LESS is often MORE: Resist the temptation to load in more and more information. This leads to loss-of-focus, and your effort is wasted.
SHOW; don’t TELL: Spend time sourcing or crafting visually clear media resources, be it infographics that display data or information, or demo videos.
The old adage “A picture is worth a thousand words” never goes wrong, as the learner doesn’t need to imagine what wordy descriptions actually mean.
KNOWLEDGE CHECKS: We learn best by testing ourselves continuously. Nano Learning modules that have regular Assessment (be it simple MCQ or Open-ended screens) do this effectively. The learner reinforces his/her learning, and there’s good data for L&D managers.
Create Effective Training now!
We trust these short tips helps you the L&D manager and trainer to create more effective training through Nano Learning — to supplement your workplace learning programmes.
Remember, crafting effective training requires more than mindlessly chopping up 100-slide Powerpoints into 15-minute bits.
Put thought into the pedagogical approach we suggested, and let’s all create better training for our teams.
Creating effective training for your teams, self-service, with ArcLab Pro is always free. Start now.
If you need more help or are resource-constrained, get in touch with us for ArcLab Enterprise, where our Instructional Designers can work with you to help craft your content into effective training. Reach out now.
by: James Chia
There is chatter about how grades don’t matter; that perhaps we should move away from awarding marks and grades to our learners. This has been raised in Singapore where we are based, and some other economies.
Critics point to Finland’s much-lauded education system, where the focus centres on learning how to learn, rather than marks and grades. Students in Finland go through a comprehensive academic programme that encourages curiosity, lateral thinking and life skills. A culture of lifelong learning continues throughout adult life, as the individual graduates into the workplace.
Yet ignoring grades misses the point, as GRADES DO MATTER.But perhaps not in the way that we use them now.
Grades are FEEDBACK
Grades give feedback to the learner and feedback to the educator.
As a Learner: When I do badly on a test or assessment, it is feedback to me that I did not understand the material well enough. I should go through the material again, maybe seek help from my teacher or trainer. Perhaps I should work harder. Maybe I should give up and look for something else that I am better in.
As an Educator: If the entire cohort does badly for a test, it is feedback to me that perhaps I should relook at the parts that everyone did poorly for. Maybe I should think about covering certain concepts again, think of a different way to explain this part of the material that many in the class/course did not seem to understand.
It’s no different from sports, where week-in, week-out, athletes and teams compete for a good ‘grade’, which is to beat the opponent. Better sides (like Tottenham Hotspur 😊) win in style, though there’s no bonus grade for exciting play.
A world without grades?
Now imagine a sporting world with no gold medals. No silver, no bronze. Participation certificates at the Olympics; every athlete returns with the same certificate.
Imagine if the English Premier League doesn’t keep score, and there are no winners and losers. That FIFA gives every World Cup team the same medal. Just for showing up.
Hardly the real world, is it?
The real world doesn’t give us participation prizes just for showing up. The real world gives us grades — constant feedback, whether we like it or not.
CEOs are graded by their ability to strategise, execute and deliver performance. Politicians by their ability to serve the citizenry. Fund managers by their ability to earn above-market returns. Carpenters by the quality of their furniture. Software engineers by the ability to ship working code. Movie Directors by the reception of their movies. Startups by their ability to turn product into business. Each and every one of us by our ability to do our job.
We cannot escape the reality that performance matters. The ‘grades’ we get through the metrics we define and are defined for us, are the feedback to us to keep doing what is working, and to change tack when something’s not turning out so well.
Those who respond to this feedback well, would hopefully turn in better performance (and ‘grades’) at the next opportunity. They should be rewarded more than the ones who did not respond to the feedback.
So it is facetious to tell our children that grades do not matter. Because in so doing, we are not preparing them for life.
Grades SHOULD NOT BE JUDGMENT
The issue with grades right now is how we view them, and how we use them.
Grades DO matter, but grades are not THE ONLY THING that matters.
Singaporeans gripe about the Primary School Leaving Examination (“PSLE”). Currently, each student taking the PSLE is awarded a numerical T-score. This score determines the Secondary school that the student is eligible to enter, as admission is primarily based on the scores of those applying. So the PSLE grade is a first-cut filtering tool.
Singapore’s Ministry of Education recently tweaked the PSLE ever so slightly, where from 2021 onwards, students are not awarded a numerical score but instead are given a grade banding.
It’s a start, but doesn’t go far enough. Now students aren’t sieved down to the individual point, but to the individual grade band.
The primary issue for me and many who think Singapore can do better, is the PSLE is still perceived as a single high-stakes examination.
Do well at the PSLE, enter a top secondary school, and your academic journey (and perhaps career) is laid out for you. Do poorly at the PSLE, and you’re routed to technical education, and the road ahead becomes bumpier than the other kid (though “there are still many paths to success”).
It may or may not be true, but sometimes perception shapes reality. And parents have to bear a large part of this responsibility.What is worse is this warped mindset sometimes carries over to the workplace and shapes hiring practices. And the fixation on grades carries on…
Which is wrong. Good grades should not give a free pass to the learner that one is set for life, nor should bad grades condemn one to failure forever.
For what if I was just a late bloomer? And what if I was always good at something else?
How do we do better?
1. Grading right.
Albert Einstein said, “If you judge a fish by how well it climbs a tree, it will spend its whole life feeling stupid”.
If we take grades for what they are, which is feedback, then the challenge for education policy-makers is how to design grading systems that are appropriate for learners-in-question.
There’s good progress being made already, as education systems are becoming more flexible, with different tracks of learning for different types of learners. But more needs to be done.
This is true for academic learning, as well as learning in the workplace. At work, HR practitioners and line managers need to define the right metrics to ‘grade’ staff. Ultimately it needs to translate to business goals (which staff help organisations to achieve).
In the workplace learning arena where ArcLab operates, we encourage organisations to break training content down into modular pieces, or Nano Learning.
This allows staff to learn in bite-sizes, on-demand. The ‘grades’ given at the end of each learning module is specific to the single learning objective that HR, L&D and line managers have defined together. The employee (and the organisation) knows straightaway whether he/she ‘gets’ the material or not, and how to apply it towards his/her job role.
The ‘grade’ has become what it’s meant to be — feedback.
2. Giving room to fail. Really.
I have only skimmed the surface of ‘The Grades Matter’, where the current downsides negatively affects both academic students and workplace learners.
Grades DO matter — as FEEDBACK to the learner and the teacher/trainer. Feedback on what has been learnt and done well, and what hasn’t.
If we adopt this “Grades-as-Feedback” mindset, we can not only work together to define grading systems that can more appropriately measure learning, and also help those that don’t do well try again.
This needs everyone to play our part: Educators, Parents, Employers, Government and Individuals.
For one bad grade should never doom one to a lifetime of failure.
That — we at ArcLab will never accept.
by: James Chia
I first met Mr Liang when I was in Primary 5 (6th grade by K-12 standards). It has been *a few* years since, so my memory of Mr Liang has faded with time. But I remember a few things:
Mr Liang, or 梁老师 as we addressed him half the time, was our form teacher and taught us Chinese and Mathematics. This was an atypical combination since in Singapore, Math was taught in English.
So we had this stern-looking man who walked into class every day, and taught us in 2 different languages.
That was amazing because as I understood it, Mr Liang went to a Chinese-medium school. So the Math concepts and terminology he learnt in school was entirely in Chinese. Yet here he was, decades later, imparting knowledge to us in English (decent, by the way).
I also remember how much ‘off-curriculum’ material he introduced to us, with such passion.
All while his ‘KPI’ in Singapore’s exam-focussed system, must still have been to get us past the exams… so it would have been perfectly rational to have “kept to the syllabus”.
In the 2 years Mr Liang spent with our class, among other things, he transported us to ancient China, and through his eyes we saw the Great Wall being constructed, the unification of the Warring States, the advancement of Chinese society.
We flew with him to witness the beginnings of the universe, as he put the magic into science — introducing us to Stephen Hawking’s “A Brief History of Time”, Charles Darwin’s “Origin of the Species”.
We stood with him at the top of the Mayan / Incan monuments, seeing images of large animals carved into corn-fields, and wondering if they were made by extra-terrestrials.
He also got us to learn, among other things: 唐诗三百首 (300 Tang poems), regaled us with stories of the Arabic origin of the numeral system, sparked our imagination with theories of time-travel, Leonardo Da Vinci’s inventions… and many others too numerous to list here.
We were all of 11 years old.
In a pre-internet, pre-Google, pre-Youtube, pre-iPhone world, Mr Liang opened our eyes to a brave new world, way bigger than the classroom.
Pre-dating social media, smartphones & digital cameras, this is my only picture of 梁老师 Mr Liang. I have no idea what he was holding in his hand. Was it a precursor of a smartphone? | Photo: James
I have had many teachers in my life, and each left an impact.
But I’ll always remember — this teacher of mine, who with his stories, his passion for knowledge, instilled the love of learning, to read and be intellectually curious, to keep finding out more about the world around us, and working to make things better.
“老梁” (as he was affectionately known) taught us to always 跑在时间前面, to run ahead of time, so that our surroundings and those around us would not make us irrelevant. That we should always work hard, think different, do better, rise higher.
Words that would not be out-of-place today, as our lives, jobs and workplaces are getting disrupted by technology at an ever-increasing pace. In a way, Mr Liang lived it himself, as a Chinese-educated student who later mastered English, at a level that was more-than-competent.
Mr Liang walked the talk. He led the way.
Today, increasing amounts of the content we learn in class are at the tip of our fingers. They are a Google search, a Siri question away.
Yet our teachers, our educators— they continue to be invaluable to our lives. Second only to parents, our teachers are the shapers of our lives and our children’s lives from the earliest years.
The best educators inspire us, guide us, nurture us. They impart more than just content and knowledge. They help us make meaning, join the dots, draw our own dots, our own lines, create our own knowledge.
They teach us that most important skill — HOW TO LEARN.
So how can we better support our educators, in the classroom, in the workplace? For there are many Mr Liangs among them. There are various angles, and I’d write more in a future post.
I’ve long-forgotten the academic subject matter that Mr Liang taught us (though not his specialty “mee goreng” for when we strayed off-course). But his love of the pursuit of knowledge has stayed with me all these years.
I hope that in some small way I have put this love of learning into what I do, through my academic years, my previous career in public service and financial markets, and now our work to empower organisations to create better training.
It would be great to see Mr Liang again. But even if I don’t have this privilege, I will always be grateful for having once been his student.
Happy Teacher’s Day to all our educators.
by: James Chia
Interactive Nano* Learning is small but POWERFUL learning.
(*Nano: 1 billionth (1/1000,000,000) a.k.a. bite-sized, digestible, very small)
In this Age of Digital Disruption, organisations need to keep employees’ knowledge and skills current.
For all of us, continuous retraining and upskilling is no longer optional. Not doing so puts us all at risk of our jobs being made obsolete and us being made redundant.
Two key factors have major implications for the way we conduct training in the workplace today, or educate our children in school for that matter.
It is ineffective to have 3-hour lectures, where a trainer stands in front of the class and lectures without break, or learners doing anything ‘interactive’.
This is especially true for millennial learners, who no longer have deep fixated attention spans. Instead, millennials “multi-task”, where attention is divided amongst many concurrent activities (aside: our brains don’t actually focus on many different things at the SAME time, but rather, SWITCH between different areas of focus — more on this in a future piece).
It’s also questionable if one-way content delivery in training settings adds much value since there’s already so much knowledge and content that is readily-accessible on the web by learners. In fact, the proliferation of web and digital media also makes it harder to get learners’ attention.
When the ‘competition’ is the latest superhero movie or hit mobile game, the teaching & training profession has its work cut out, to design and deliver knowledge in a manner that at least captures learners’ attention (for those 8 seconds anyway), and more importantly, effect the learning.
There is a better way:
We’re talking about NANO learning: bite-sized, digestible, on-demand learning.
2 quick points:
Nano Learning is a PEDAGOGICAL FRAMEWORK where we work through the entire content base and think hard how to package it into bite-sized, interactive modules that best help the learner understand and absorb the content and learning points.
We’ll talk more about the science and pedagogical aspects in a subsequent post, but first let’s think about how we can operationalise Interactive Nano Learning for our organisations.
How do we start?
So, what does an organisation’s Learning & Development team need to do, to put this in practice?
Ultimately, it is all about letting our data guide us. Does this new form of nano learning help deliver content in a better way?
Hence, it’s important that we set very specific milestones and desired end-outcomes, so that we can measure effectiveness, which will help us secure buy-in to extend the framework to more parts of our organisations.
So it’s in every organisation’s interest to train employees properly all throughout their journey with the firm.
Interactive Nano Learning can be a big help in making this training bite-sized and on-demand, better delivering the requisite content and skills to members of your team.
Don’t take our word for it. Try it for yourself…
p/s: We’re excited to let you know that WE HAVE LAUNCHED ARCLAB PRO!
ArcLab Pro is a Software-as-a-Service web tool and platform that empowers organisations to build Interactive Nano Learning modules that can be easily distributed to teams to help them onboard and upskill.
ArcLab Pro provides easy-use templates, learner analytics, everything you need to effectively train your team with Interactive Nano Learning. There’s no software to download or install, no lock-in periods, no minimum number of learners.
Simply sign up, and start creating and investing in your team TODAY!
by: James Chia, with advice & contributions from Huang Shao-Ning, Co-founder of AngelCentral & JobsCentral (any errors are James’)
A seasoned mid-career professional in her 40s recounted her recent experience applying to a few Public Sector roles in Singapore. To her surprise (and dismay), the hiring organisations requested for her educational qualifications all the way back to her GCE O-Levels. Without this information, she could not submit her job application.
Juxtapose this anecdote against the Singapore’s government’s exhortation to continually upskill and keep our knowledge current. The official message to employers and society (which we agree with):
Don’t view academic qualifications as the marker of success, embrace lifelong learning, be open to new career possibilities and opportunities that may come our way.
So the same government pushing citizens to move away from sole reliance on academic qualifications, still asks for these very qualifications when recruiting for public sector positions. It is especially strange that academic grades are still required in an application process for a mid-career position.
Returning to my anecdote, that mid-career individual’s O-Level results has zero bearing on her career performance, where she has proved her mettle through her 20 years of work experience. So there should be no reason for the job portals in question to demand this information as a mandatory submission. Importantly, getting that applicant’s O-Level results will not help the recruiter from assessing the applicant’s suitability for the position.
There are 2 ways to view this:
If we take the second view, then Public Sector hiring stakeholders should work together to remedy it more holistically.
The Public Sector is a large ship that takes some time to change course. While political and public sector leaders make the big-picture pronouncements, it takes time for that change to filter downwards and operationalised. Realistically, hiring frameworks and systems need some more time to be adjusted.
Yet adjust it must, and we offer several suggestions for Public Sector employers (and employers in general) to consider, to speed up this change.
“Papers, please”: A genuine rethink from a recruitment perspective
What is the best way to assess the suitability of job applicants?
1. Never use grades as a non-negotiable filtering tool for prospective candidates.
One of the contributors previously helped with a Public Sector project to to review post-graduate scholarship applicants. There was a particular candidate whom we assessed to be a poor fit for the scholarship programme (among other drawbacks, he was unable to speak nor articulate his views clearly). Yet the Public Sector body requested to “upgrade” him to a pass, SIMPLY BECAUSE he had a Degree with First Class Honours.
There ARE valid reasons for academic qualifications to be provided for specific jobs, e.g. medicine, accounting, professional engineering, especially for entry-level or early-career positions. In such situations, paper qualifications are useful as a minimum standard to prove basic technical competency.
In other contexts, e.g. roles where more analytical skills or communication skills are required, academic qualifications or grades are hardly useful to assess candidates’ suitability.
2. Make a more considered effort to PROPERLY PROFILE job requirements.
Employers (both Public & Private Sector) can start by quantifying the hard skills required for the role but also design better filtering mechanisms to assess candidates on the soft skills needed to execute the role effectively, e.g. a well-designed questionnaire or work-tests to suss out values / aptitudes that current top performers of the role possesses and hire following that pattern.
Work-trials (which our firm uses) are also a good alternative way for Employers to assess candidates’ competency and softer skills, such as communication skills and teamwork. Work-trials provide the same opportunity to the job applicant to assess suitability of the Employer and their comfort in working with potential colleagues.
WE HAVE SUGGESTED AN IDEAL SCENARIO.
The above will take skill, effort and courage(!) to translate into hiring frameworks. There will also need to be periodic reviews since skillset requirements change over time. One key challenge is how to quantify and effectively communicate the soft skills and “x-factor” required for a role into an advertised job description, and craft it into an interview / assessment framework.
So for a start, a lower-hanging fruit would be effectively quantifying the hard skills required for the role, and work with that as a baseline.
We are conscious that it will take more effort by Employers to operationalise these frameworks (we are Employers ourselves), but we believe the initial hard work will outweigh the time and re-hiring costs to the company of hiring the wrong person for the job, where costs include time wasted from staff turnover and the subsequent re-hiring needed.
In the long run, the hiring organisation wins as it will truly be hiring based on skills profile, resulting in better job hires and benefitting the organisation financially. This contrasts against the usual broad-brush academic qualifications and grades filter of job applicants, which gives the Employer little insight into competency.
Importantly, a move away from a blanket focus on paper qualifications puts the brakes on our country’s systematic discrimination against late-bloomers who may not do so well in the early years of their academic journey. It will also stop the relentless paper chase for academic qualifications’ sake.
There are many stories in industry (which both of us face as Employers) of polytechnic graduates “obsessed” to get a degree after one to two years of working and saving up. This phenomenon may serve to translate to a vicious cycle of more re-hiring and re-training costs for Employers. Such an obsession to get a Government-recognised degree at times could also sometimes totally blinker polytechnic graduates in their career planning, inadvertently leading to poor financial outcomes.
We recall the example of an ex-staff (fresh polytechnic graduate), who after one year of working with the firm, was accepted into a local university to read Electronic Engineering. This individual was working with us as a designer, and was in fact a very good one! However, for the sake of the “paper with the logo of a local university”, he suppressed his own professional and career interests and took on a student loan to do the engineering degree which was not in line with his interest at all. He gave up after one year and enrolled himself into a private university to study a creative discipline that was closer to his real interests. This individual wasted time and money, all for the (misguided) pursuit of a University Degree for its own sake.
The sad truth is that it was perfectly rational for the above-mentioned polytechnic graduate to “aspire” towards a University Degree.
For an employee-track career (unlike in entrepreneurship), university graduates have consistently advanced faster and higher than polytechnic graduates, and their salaries have grown more quickly. So these point towards getting that University Degree, because every Employer looks out for it, and reward those who possess them.
The media sometimes profiles non-graduates that have done well in their careers, e.g. the recent story of non-graduate school principals. Sadly, these stories only serve as the exceptions that prove the rule.
There are not yet any CONSISTENT examples of non-graduates rising to leadership roles in the Public Sector or professional corporate sphere (unlike in the business world where there are consistently a higher percentage of high-performing non-graduate entrepreneurs).
We look forward to the day where non-graduates in leadership roles are no longer newsworthy.
The other side of the coin is improving the skills-base of job-seekers. To that end, our SkillsFuture Singapore and Workforce Singapore public agencies have rolled out a plethora of schemes that promote the continued improvement of indviduals’ skills to remain employable.
Flagship programme SkillsFuture was launched as a national lifelong learning movement to provide Singaporeans with the (quote) “opportunity to develop ourselves to the fullest, achieving skills competency and mastery”. The programme is intended to tangentially complement our traditionally rigourous (and perhaps ruthlessly efficient) academic education framework.
As of Feb 2018, ~300,000 individuals have utilised their SkillsFuture Credits for upskilling courses. So from a numbers perspective, there IS take-up, especially in infocomm technology (according to the Agency), which represents the jobs of the future, and which our economy lacks in our talent base.
From a scan of new programmes being offered by our tertiary and vocational learning institutions, the direction appears to be right. But only time will tell.
For now, the jury is still out on the effectiveness of SkillsFuture, as this will need more years of data. We will need to track end-outcomes, i.e. are employers now able to find the right fit of talent, and in sufficient numbers, to meet workplace needs, even as the advent of new technologies create new “industries” like e/m-commerce and fintech. These have required new skills and created demand for certain jobs, even as they in parallel create labour-efficiencies and reduce demand for other jobs, often structurally.
I believe that more thoughtfully-curated learning paths are required to train deeply-competent professionals in all disciplines. These will presumably need to be effected in collaboration with our tertiary institutions, which should be like the US or Israeli institutions that do not preclude non-alumni from participating.
We caution that SkillsFuture must not become a marketplace of entry-level courses, or we risk never being able to produce an adequately high-value and highly-trained workforce.
Nano-Credentials: Adding a Skills-based alternative / complement
As outlined, there are strong calls for a Skills-based framework to complement or serve as an alternative to academic qualifications. We believe this can be framed into a coherent accreditation framework, which we coin “Nano-credentials”
On this front, Singapore has its Workforce Skills Qualification (WSQ) which recognises skills and competencies of participants in approved training programmes.
There are also competing disparate verticals. For example, individual industries and associations may also provide their own form of accreditation. Tracking and recognition of such training and competency is less straightforward. Learners may also have to justify the courses undertaken to current or would-be employers.
Since no-one is presumably “ashamed” of our qualifications, I question if is there a better way to track and populate ALL our qualifications, achievements, skills into a “central database” for individual to “allow access” to selected parties, e.g. totally public, or only to companies one applies to for jobs etc.
In terms of tracking qualifications — should we also move away from just tracking only formal degrees and certifications, and are we able to create a centralised (or de-centralised(?)) Nano Credential framework that consolidates and maps skills that individuals have learnt from bite-sized courses which are contextual and on-demand?
I believe the answer is yes, especially as technology continues to improve. There are providers with technology that can help to coalesce and VERIFY all training and certifications centrally (or “de-centrally” — blockchain perhaps(?)).
The more able frameworks can also provide ways for individuals to assess current skills competencies and suggest upskilling pathways towards a desired goal, e.g. Head Chef at a leading hotel in 5–7 years. and work backwards from the desired end-outcome and provide recommendations to the individual.
Our belief is that the traditional ways of hiring are outdated. We particularly frown on the antiquated practice of would-be employers demanding for educational qualifications and grades, especially for mid-career positions.
I believe there are better ways for individuals to manage and provide their skills and qualifications to parties of THEIR choosing, through a consolidated skills assessment and accreditation framework.
The key goal that employers should aim for, and put our money and hiring decisions behind, is to hire based on skills rather than qualifications or grades. These need to be built into recruitment systems and job portals, and the philosophy OPERATIONALISED at the hiring manager level.
The Public Sector is a major employer in Singapore. Walking the talk sends a strong message to other employers and the job-seeking public that it is serious about “alternative pathways to success”.
I have faith that it can, and we’re ready to play our part.
Visit ArcLab to find out more about how we’re helping with Lifelong Learning and Skills-based hiring.
by: James Chia
“Tell me & I forget. Teach me & I may remember. INVOLVE me & I learn.” — Benjamin Franklin
How fun to build AND learn | “A little boy playing with different colored legos” by Caleb Woods on Unsplash
Singapore’s Budget 2018 Speech (where the Finance Minister announced the future increase of Goods & Services Tax to 9%) had a small section on “Support for Financial Planning”. Within it was a move to “pilot a new financial education curriculum” at Singapore’s Polytechnics and Institutes of Technical Education.
Financial Education (#FinEd) was the origins of Oikonopolis, a SimCity-esque learning game we created — that taught teenagers Economics and Personal Finance. We made mistakes (being business newbies), but Oikonopolis’ product cycle and startup journey was a great learning experience.
I went full-time 3 1/2 years ago, drawing on lessons from the Oikonopolis product journey to build a full-fledged EduTech business. We adopted 3 key principles as we designed and developed our learning product:
1. Learning must be ENGAGING
We need our learners to be engaged in the experience that the product delivers. Otherwise there is no opportunity for any content to be conveyed, meaning there is no learning. A recent IPSOS study revealed that 90% of US employees emphasised the importance of engagement in learning.
2. Learning must be EFFICIENT
With the average human attention span these days under 8 seconds, the learning process in our product can’t be draggy. If not, we lose our learners to distractions like binge-watching movies, or the latest kitten Youtube video.
(More on efficient learning in my next piece: "interactive NANO learning").
3. Learning must be EFFECTIVE
Most. Critical. Aspect.
The key metrics of learning products are not the number of downloads or active users.
Instead, the most important metric whether learners have learnt what they’re meant to, by design (or even not by design). Otherwise, nothing else matters.
How do we measure a product’s learning effectiveness? Simply put, it’s to assess whether the learner meets learning outcomes.
Take the field of game-based learning.
One of games’ key benefits is the ability to engage its players; many of us recall childhoods where countless hours were spent playing video games.
For years, educators have tried to leverage the power of games to help students learn. Yet game-based learning has often been thrown into disrepute by what is termed “chocolate-coated broccoli”.
E.g., some “edu-games” (a misnomer) might make learners do math problem sums to unlock a game “entertainment level”.
Ultimately, learners are still doing problem sums (“eating broccoli”), and the game is totally redundant in the learning process.
Such games do nothing to promote learning through game mechanics. The game has no need to exist.
I advise all educators to avoid adopting such “chocolate-coated broccoli” games unless the educator’s intent is solely to promote “engagement”.
A digital worksheet does nothing to improve learning, if the original pedagogy wasn’t effective in the first place.
We find that the key to making learning effective, is getting students involved in actually doing something interesting that is related to the topic. This should be built into the design mechanics of the learning product — so the learning is intrinsic through participating in the activity.
The learner’s interaction with the learning tool (as opposed to passively listening to a lecture or watching a Youtube “educational” video) — becomes an important part of the pedagogy — for the learner to internalise the lesson or concept taught.
These are just 2 examples where well designed pedagogy is applied into an interactive product, and successfully takes the learner through the journey and helps them internalise the learning.
I also need to stress the importance of the EDUCATOR, who takes on the role of facilitator and helps the learners make meaning of what they have just experienced.
These learning games (and more) are available on TeacherGaming Desk, EduTech visionaries from Finland, whom we are pleased to collaborate (and have become friends) with. #SinFin =)
“INVOLVE me & I learn”
We encourage all educators and workplace trainers to think about how best to involve your learners as they go through the learning process, and how to make them learn interactively.
Ultimately, this interactivity concretises the learning for them, helping them to learn better and makes your job easier too.
This is true whether you are an academic teacher, or a workplace educator.
We’ll end with a short story of how Salman Khan, founder of Khan Academy, learns. Salman believes in “mastery learning”, spending hours to:
(i) observe the subject (and master) in practice,
(ii) read about the subject,
(iii) talk to other experts,
(iv) solve problems on the subject and work on projects
(iv) think and ponder more questions and solutions,
(v) consult experts again.
He repeats these until he “gets it”, and internalises the concept.
This is interactive learning at its core: Act -> Learn -> Think -> Apply
That’s how we (and you) make learning effective.
Stayed tuned for my next piece on “interactive NANO learning”.
p/s: We’re excited to let you know that WE HAVE LAUNCHED ARCLAB PRO!
ArcLab Pro is a Software-as-a-Service web tool and platform that empowers organisations to build Interactive Nano Learning modules that can be easily distributed to teams to help them onboard and upskill.
ArcLab Pro provides easy-use templates, learner analytics, everything you need to effectively train your team with Nano Learning. There’s no software to download or install, no lock-in periods, no minimum number of learners.
Simply sign up, and start building and investing in your team TODAY!
ArcLab’s Nano Learning platform empowers organisations to create effective training for employees. No coding needed.