The Impact of Excessive Media Exposure on Adult Learning

The Impact of Excessive Media Exposure on Adult Learning

The Impact of Excessive Media Exposure on Adult Learning

Studies on the impact of television and other forms of media have been done for decades. The majority of them have helped substantiate what many parents have told their children for years…watching too much television, listening to the radio while studying, playing too many electronic games, and spending too much time on the Internet is bad for your brain and can impact learning.

The Impact of Excessive Media Exposure on Adult Learning by The Creative Trainer

Many trainers and adult educators have discovered in recent years that simply being an expert who can deliver knowledge and expertise is not enough in today’s adult learning environment. Due to exposure to various forms of media since they were children, adults often need a variety of stimuli to attract and hold their attention. They are conditioned to multitask and expect not only educational stimulation but also some form of entertainment and engagement in the information delivery process.

As young children, many adults experienced shows like Sesame Street along with other programs watched by children which, while helpful to some degree in educating and stimulating a child’s brain, actually tends to rewire the brain and affects attention span. This is because images and content received through systems such as television, movies, electronic games, and other fast-paced systems set the brain up to anticipate that content in other settings will mimic that speed of delivery. Dimitri Christakis, a pediatrician at Children’s Hospital and Regional Medical Center in Seattle, Washington, was quoted as saying that the pace of delivery is “making it harder to concentrate if there’s less stimulation,” in a USAToday.

Numerous studies on children have documented the impact of excessive exposure to media on the attention span. Some reports indicate that children who watch three or more hours of television a day are 30% more likely to have attention trouble or ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) than those viewing no TV. Related to this issue, some research on human attention spans indicates that in the past decade, adult learner attention spans have dropped to a maximum of 20 minutes.

The implications for all this in an adult learning environment are that trainers and adult educators must accept the changing world and how their learner’s brains are evolving. They must address the three major adult learning styles or modalities (visual, auditory and kinesthetic) while anticipating a loss of attention.

To counter the loss of attention, they must also research brain-based learning research and build in periodic content reviews, attention-getters, training activities and even the use of focused media activities in order to gain, hold and focus attention throughout a session. Adult learners should be re-engaged through interactive events in which they work individually or in small groups to review and assimilate session content. They must also determine ways to apply what they have learned on the job or in other real-world situations.

For creative training ideas, tips and strategies for effectively engaging adult learners and making content more meaningful to them, get copies of The Creative Training Idea Book: Inspired Tips and Techniques for Engaging and Effective Learning and Energize Your Training: Creative Techniques to Engage Learners.

Using Behavioral Learning Objectives to Prepare An Effective Adult Training Session

Using Behavioral Learning Objectives to Prepare An Effective Adult Training Session

Adult learners like to know where they are headed in a training session as it begins. Compare this to taking a trip, if someone said to you, “Let’s go on a trip; get into the car?”  Your first question is likely to be, “Where are we going.” Similarly, if you step in front of a group and say, we’re going on a journey to explore new ways to serve customers, you learners probably will want to know what will be addressed. This is to help them determine if they need it and the potential result for their time investment.

To identify the path and content for your learning journey, you should do a needs assessment. You can do this by surveying or interviewing potential attendees, their supervisors and possibly their customers. Your goal will be to determine what knowledge and skills potential participants already have and what they need to learn in order to improve their performance on the job. By discovering potential performance deficits, you can then structure training content to meet their needs and make the learning event valuable in terms of time, money and effort spent by learners, their organization and you.

Using Behavioral Learning Objectives to Prepare An Effective Adult Training Session Using Behavioral Learning to Prepare An Effective Training

As you design and develop session content and training aids, make sure to list learning objectives in participant handouts. Also, make objectives visual for learners by listing them on a flip chart page or slide. Doing these things allow you to display them and discuss how each point will be addressed as the session progresses. This approach will also aid your visual learners and help reinforce the areas on which they should focus throughout the program.

Robert Mager was one of the first human resource practitioners to identify a format for performance objectives. Two criteria that he proposed were that a learning objective should be specific and measurable. The objective should also start with an action verb. Here is a sample behavioral learning objective format:

At the end of this session, and when using what was learned, participants will be able to create behavioral learning objectives that include specific knowledge or skills and will be measurable.

For additional learning strategies that can be used for creating and using learning objectives, enhancing learning outcomes and improving adult learning session outcomes, get a copy of Training Workshop Essentials: Designing, Developing and Delivering Learning Events that Get Results.

How To Make A Flip Chart – Five Back to the Basics Tips

How To Make A Flip Chart - Five Back to the Basics Tips

How To Make A Flip Chart – Five Back to the Basics Tips

Flipcharts have been around for decades and have served thousands of trainers, presenters, adult educators, facilitators, managers, and team leaders admirably. They have helped to reinforce spoken messages, post ideas and information for reference, collect brilliant ideas during training and brainstorming sessions, and aid visual learners by reinforcing key concepts in meetings and adult learning sessions all over the world.

Even so, many people still struggle with how to generate useful and creative flipcharts that will benefit both session leaders and their adult learners. The following are five “How to Make a Flip Chart” basics that you can use for preparing flip charts that are not only functional but also easy to create.

1. Decide why you are going to use a flip chart. Many trainers, facilitators, and adult educators want to prepare their flip charts in advance using keywords or concepts that can guide the session delivery and provide a visual reference for them and their learners.  If this is your goal, then spend some time deciding what will be on each sheet and when you will display them.

You may also just want to have blank pages available for use during activities, to capture key thoughts and ideas during a session or to spontaneously draw or write information based on session discussions.

2. Create your flip charts in advance. Use multi-colored, water-based, flipchart markers to avoid the ink from “bleeding through” or saturating the page and damaging the following page, thus wasting money.

Advance preparation allows you to project an image of a professional who comes prepared to facilitate knowledge. It also says time in the classroom since you do not have to spend time writing as learners watch.

3. Use images and colorful borders on your pages to add a bit of sizzle to each and to attract attention. You can use drawings related to the session content (e.g. figures or people, animals, items and so on) to tie into written information on the paper. These might be simple bullet points. For example, if you are doing a session on customer service, using smiley faces instead of colored dots adds a bit of light-heartedness and visual variety to the pages. Make sure to use different colors from the text you have written to make the images stand out.

4. Add small lightly penciled notes to the edges of your pages. These remind you of comments you want to make or let you know what your next activity or topic will be as you are turning pages. Your attendees cannot see them from a distance, they keep you forgetting important points and you look like you have everything memorized.

5. Practice using your flip chart before getting in front of a group. If you are right-handed, stand to the right side of the flip chart easel as you face the group. When ready to turn a page as you are facing the group, simply reach back with your left hand, grasp the bottom left corner of the page and gently lift it up and over the easel to gracefully display the next page of text. If you are left-handed, stand on the left side.

Standing as indicated also allows you to write across the page without blocking note-taking participants since you only extend you are across the page without obstructing the page.

For hundreds of additional flip chart techniques and strategies on how to make, use, transport and store flip charts, get a copy of The Big Book of Flip Charts: A Comprehensive Guide for Presenters, Trainers and Team Facilitators by Robert W. Lucas.

YOUR THOUGHTS? – Please share any tips for effectively using flip charts in adult learning environments?

Three Reasons to Limit Information on a Flip Chart

Three Reasons to Limit Information on a Flip Chart

Three Reasons to Limit Information on a Flip Chart

There are three primary adult learning styles or modalities: Visual learner, kinesthetic learner, and auditory learner. Flip charts typically aid the visual learners most, since they better gain, retain, recall, and use information when they see it.

Related to the visual learning style when working with adult learners, there are three good reasons for limiting the amount of information you put on each line and page of a flipchart:

  1. Aesthetically it looks better since you eliminate unnecessary detail and clutter.
  2. It aids the reader’s flow across the page since they do not have to read as many words and can now focus their attention on what you are saying.
  3. Most importantly, research shows that the human brain can effectively retain seven units or chunks of information (plus or minus two).

Like any rule, there are exceptions. For example, when you are writing a long list of items, numbers, or capturing ideas presented from participants, and it is obvious that you will run on to a subsequent page.

Three Reasons to Limit Information on a Flip Chart by The Creative Trainer – Robert W. Lucas, Awarding Winning Author, and Blogger

In such instances, you might continue the column to the bottom of the page, tear off the sheet and have someone tape it high enough on the wall where you can add a second continuation page. You can then continue to the next page and post it below the first when finished.

For hundreds of creative training ideas and techniques for effectively creating, using, transporting, and storing flip charts in adult learning environments, get a copy of The Big Book of Flip Charts: A Comprehensive Guide for Presenters, Trainers, and Team Facilitators. 

Three Tips for Improving Flip Chart Effectiveness

Three Tips for Improving Flip Chart Effectiveness

Three Tips for Improving Flip Chart Effectiveness

If you are like me, you love to use flip charts in training and adult educational settings and in meetings. They are definitely low-tech and they are very versatile and useful. I recommend that every manager have one in his or her office to capture key ideas during meetings and to make concepts visual and more memorable. The same applies to any learning event. You can add color, graphics, and virtually all sorts of effective enhancements to your charts to make them “speak” to learners.

Three Tips for Improving Flip Chart Effectiveness to learn about…

Here are three tips that I’ve learned over the years to make flip charts stand out and help support my verbal messages.

Each word should be legible from the back of the room

To ensure that those at the far reaches of your room can read your text, be conscious of where you position your flip chart easel (often misspelled easle) and keep the layout simple and avoid “data dump.” Too much information makes reading difficult or impossible and can frustrate or anger participants who cannot read what you have written.

Remember that your goal in using a flipchart is to highlight keywords and concepts, not show your entire presentation outline on paper. Focus on enhancing the clarity of your message and reinforcing your presentation. This will aid participants with all adult learning styles, but in particular, those with a visual learning style preference.

I can recall one business presentation that I recently attended where I am convinced the speaker did everything she could to make the information unreadable. There were no title lines used; numbers were haphazardly spread around the page; she added more in the small margins as she spoke; and, she selected only a red marker, even though she had an entire box of assorted colors from which to choose.

I had to keep telling myself, “Bob, don’t be so critical just because you know the ‘rules’ of flip charting.” However, after the meeting, I asked someone else what they thought of the marathon meeting we’d just attended. Her reaction was, “I have a headache from all looking at all those numbers and trying to follow her meaning.”

No more than 6-8 lines per page

One of the more common mistakes I see presenters and facilitators make with flip charts when dealing with adult learners is to jam too much information on a page. This cluttered look is typically ineffective and frustrating for the reader.

As with overhead transparencies, I recommend limiting the number of lines per flip chart page.  A good rule of thumb is six to eight words per line; using two- to three-inch sized letters. Also,  having a maximum of six to eight lines of text per page (including your title line; using approximately four-inch letters).

Limit information on a page

Putting just one idea or concept on a page helps participants follow your presentation. When you complicate the page with too many or unrelated details, efficiency is often lost. This is especially true when showing columns of numbers. In such instances, limit yourself to about 25-35 individual numbers on the page.

If you have a lot of information, I suggest that you consider summarizing on your flipchart, then give a handout with the details. Simpler is better, with flip charts.

For hundreds of creative training ideas and techniques for effectively creating, using, transporting and storing flip charts in adult learning environments, get a copy of The Big Book of Flip Charts: A Comprehensive Guide for Presenters, Trainers and Team Facilitators. 

Two Proven Strategies for Identifying Adult Learner Needs

Two Proven Strategies for Identifying Adult Learner Needs

Two Proven Strategies for Identifying Adult Learner Needs

You should always conduct a training needs analysis or needs assessment before attempting to design a training program. This is an important part of the instructional systems design process. However, if it is not possible to determine needs in advance, you can still gather important information once your learners arrive for a session.

Two Proven Strategies for Identifying Adult Learner Needs by The Creative Trainer – Robert W. Lucas, Awarding Winning Author, and Blogger

Here are two ways to gather information from your adult learners once they arrive in the classroom:

Use Participant Interviews.

Plan activities in which learners spend time interviewing one another at the beginning of your session then have them share what they learned with others. Have them ask questions, such as:

  • Why are you here today?
  • Have you ever attended a session on today’s topic before? If so, what did you learn?
  • What one bit of information do you most need to get from today’s session?
  • What one thing do you hope does not happen during the session?
  • How do you plan to use the information that you gain from today’s session?
  • How soon following the program, do you anticipate applying what you learn?

Pass Out Questionnaires.

As an alternative to using interviews, create questionnaires that you send to registrants before the session or pass out during your introductory remarks. Ask them to respond to the questions and send the survey back to you or turn it in when once they complete it in class. Your questions should focus on current performance and workplace issues. For example, you might ask questions similar to the following.

  • What workplace issues prompted you to sign up for this session
  • What is your biggest knowledge or skill deficit related to the session topic?
  • What performance challenges have you recently faced related to the session topic?
  • How have workplace issues related to the session topic affected your ability to perform your job?

For additional creative training ideas to make your adult learning events more effective and learner-centric, take the time to review hundreds of adult learning strategies, techniques for engaging learners in the classroom and tapping into brain-based learning research for better outcomes in the book Energize Your Training: Creative Techniques to Engage Learners.

The Power of Training Aids in Adult Learning Environments

The Power of Training Aids in Adult Learning Environments

The Power of Training Aids in Adult Learning Environments

Using effective training aids in your training session can help reinforce your verbal message while stimulating the brains of your learners and tapping into different learning styles (modalities). By creating and using effective support material, you can help ensure that you will hold learner interest while helping them gain, retain, recognize, recall, and later use the information to which they are exposed. 

 

Two key things to remember about using training aids are that:

 

1. They are supposed to supplement your message, not replace it.

 

2. You must keep your learning aids simple. Do not become so distracted by adding glitz and sparkle when creating training materials that you forget their intended purpose — to reinforce your primary message.

 

Trainers and adult educators traditionally use many types of materials and items to help get their classroom message across to adult learners. Virtually anything can become a training aid.

 

There is a multitude of commercially produced products and equipment available to enhance training delivery. Trainers and educators can also design, build, and use many items that they create in order to enhance their learning environments. There is no hard and fast rule about what classifies as a training aid, so if some common item works to help communicate an idea or concept to your adult learners; use it.

 

For hundreds of creative training strategies, adult learning techniques, training activities, and resources tied to adult learning theory and brain-based learning research, which can aid learner retention, get copies of The Creative Training Idea Book: Inspired Tips and Techniques for Engaging and Effective Learning, Energize Your Training: Creative Techniques to Engage Learners, The Big Book of Flip Charts: A Comprehensive Guide for Presenters, Trainers and Team Facilitators, and Creative Learning: Activities and Games That Really Engage People.

Malcolm Knowles’ Adult Learning Theory – Principle 6 – Motivation to Learn

Malcolm Knowles’ Adult Learning Theory – Principle 6 - Motivation to Learn

Malcolm Knowles’ Adult Learning Theory – Principle 6 – Motivation to Learn

In this post, you will read about the sixth of six adult learning principles proposed by Malcolm Knowles in his Adult Learning Theory.

Motivation to Learn.

Adults are motivated to learn by both extrinsic (external) and intrinsic (internal) motivators. Researchers have developed many theories of motivation over the last century to try to explain how to deal with such motivators. For example, Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs theory, Frederick Herzberg’s Two-Factor theory, and Clayton Alderfer’s Existence Relatedness Growth theory, that you can apply to a learning environment.

By better understanding the premise behind motivation theories, you will better be able to create a learning environment that addresses both the intrinsic and extrinsic needs of your learners. For example, one simple way to reward learner behavior is to use small incentive prizes that relate to your session topic for people who volunteer, arrive, and return from breaks on time and those who accomplish certain tasks. Such rewards address extrinsic learner needs. You might also end the session early or recognize individual performance through applause or appointment to specific leadership roles in order to provide for intrinsic needs.

Even though rewards are often short-term motivators, if you use them in conjunction with other brain-based learning strategies, you can potentially create an environment that is more conducive to learning. Just do not try to rely solely on rewards, props and other “gimmicks” to support a lack of knowledge or poor delivery style on your part. It will not. You still have to excel in your role facilitator and/or subject matter expert (SME).

Malcolm Knowles’ Adult Learning Theory – Principle 6 – Motivation to Learn by The Creative Trainer – Robert W. Lucas, Awarding Winning Author, and Blogger

The key to selecting appropriate motivational strategies is to realize that what motivates one person does not motivate all. Use a variety of techniques and if you realize that something is not working, switch to an alternate strategy immediately. Also, consider who is in your audience and the topic of your workshop when deciding on what incentives you might use. For example, while smile face toys and funny props would work well for a group of front-line employees in a workshop on customer service, it is not a good idea to use them in a session on handling grief to friends and family of deceased people.

For more information about the Adult Learning Theory, brain-based learning strategies and other important research and strategies for helping propel adult learners to more fruitful learning experiences, get copies of Training Workshop Essentials: Designing, Developing and Delivering Learning Events That Get Results, Creative Learning: Activities and Games That Really Engage People, and The Creative Training Idea Books: Inspired Tips and Techniques for Engaging and Effective Learning.

Malcolm Knowles’ Adult Learning Theory – Principle 5 – Orientation to Learn

Malcolm Knowles’ Adult Learning Theory – Principle 5 - Orientation to Learn

Malcolm Knowles’ Adult Learning Theory – Principle 5 – Orientation to Learn

In this post, you will read about the fifth of six adult learning principles proposed by Malcolm Knowles in his Adult Learning Theory.

Orientation to Learn.

Adults enter a learning experience with a task-, problem-, or life-centered orientation to learning. This is opposed to children, who focus on learning knowledge in order to pass tests and graduate from a curriculum.

Malcolm Knowles’ Adult Learning Theory – Principle 5 – Orientation to Learn by The Creative Trainer – Robert W. Lucas, Awarding Winning Author, and Blogger

Adults focus on gaining new knowledge, skills, and attitudes (KSAs) that will allow them to transfer what is learned back to a life-situation immediately and resolve an issue that they have. For example, if someone is working in an environment in which they interact with many customers from the Hispanic community and they do not speak the language, they might attend a Spanish language workshop.

For more information about the Adult Learning Theory, brain-based learning strategies and other important research and strategies for helping propel adult learners to more fruitful learning experiences, get copies of Training Workshop Essentials: Designing, Developing and Delivering Learning Events That Get Results, Creative Learning: Activities and Games That Really Engage People, and The Creative Training Idea Books: Inspired Tips and Techniques for Engaging and Effective Learning.

Robert W. Lucas

Listed in Who’s Who in the World, Who’s Who in America and Who’s Who in the South & Southeast, Bob Lucas is an internationally-known author and learning and performance expert who specializes in workplace performance-based training and consulting services. He has four decades of experience in customer service, human resources development, and management in a variety of organizational environments. Bob was the 1995 and 2011 President of the Central Florida Chapter of the Association for Talent Development (ATD). Bob has lived, traveled, and worked in 28 different countries and geographic areas. During the past 40 years, Bob has shared his knowledge with workplace professionals from hundreds of organizations, such as Webster University, AAA, Orange County Clerk of Courts, Walt Disney World, SeaWorld, Martin Marietta, all U.S. military branches, and Wachovia Bank. In addition, Bob has provided consulting and training services to numerous major organizations on a variety of workplace learning topics. To contact Bob visit his website at www.robertwlucas.com or his blog www.thecreativetrainer.com.

Malcolm Knowles’ Adult Learning Theory – Principle 4 – Readiness to Learn

Malcolm Knowles’ Adult Learning Theory – Principle 4 – Readiness to Learn

Malcolm Knowles’ Adult Learning Theory – Principle 4 – Readiness to Learn

In this post, you will read about the fourth of six adult learning principles proposed by Malcolm Knowles in his Adult Learning Theory.

Readiness to Learn.

Adults become ready to learn in order to perform more effectively and satisfyingly when they experience a need to know or are able to do so.

As an old adage goes, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” When adults feel the pain of not being able to perform well enough in their job or they receive negative performance feedback on the job, they often rush (or are rushed) off to training to “fix” their deficits. Unfortunately, this approach often masks organizational issues that are causing the performance breakdown.

For example, poor supervision or management skills on the part of their boss, policies that inhibit effective job performance, or an environment that does not adequately prepare and support employees. Still, when such learners show up in your session, your task as a trainer or facilitator is to try to enhance their knowledge, skills, and attitude (KSA).

Malcolm Knowles’ Adult Learning Theory – Principle 4  by The Creative Trainer – Robert W. Lucas, Awarding Winning Author, and Blogger

By focusing on this core adult learning principle, you can tap into your adult learner’s desire to expand their knowledge or skills. To accomplish these things, you might actively engage them in the learning process in order to allow the maximum transfer of knowledge. For example, you may have learners whose organization has shifted to a team environment and in which some employees are having trouble working effectively with others, participate in a workshop on effective interpersonal communication, or on teambuilding to address employee roles, expectations, and skills for building better work relationships.

For more information about the Adult Learning Theory, brain-based learning strategies and other important research and strategies for helping propel adult learners to more fruitful learning experiences, get copies of Training Workshop Essentials: Designing, Developing and Delivering Learning Events That Get Results, Creative Learning: Activities and Games That Really Engage People, and The Creative Training Idea Books: Inspired Tips and Techniques for Engaging and Effective Learning.