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.

Customer Service Training Activity – Subconscious Gender Stereotypes

Customer Service Training Activity – Subconscious Gender Stereotypes

Customer Service Training Activity – Subconscious Gender Stereotypes

Since ongoing gender communication and interactions between employees and customers is a daily event in most workplaces; organizations must help employees at all levels identify and correct negative stereotypes that might exist between male and female employees. One way to accomplish this, and to tap into brain-based learning research related to actively engaging adult learners, is to design creative training activities into adult learning events.

Customer Service Training Activity – Subconscious Gender Stereotypes by The Creative Trainer – Robert W. Lucas, Awarding Winning Author, and Blogger

The following activity is a simple means for getting adult learners active in identifying potentially damaging perceptions they might have about genders and to engage in a productive dialog to help overcome stereotypes that they might unconsciously harbor.

Trainers, supervisors or team leaders can use this activity during a formal customer service or communication training session or at a department staff meeting. Once all trainees have completed the self-assessment, either form small groups of lead a discussion to share individual results and discuss how to improve any issues that surface related to stereotypes.

Instructions to Learners:

Many people have been conditioned since they were young children about acceptable gender roles for males and females in their culture as either masculine or feminine. Often these beliefs create challenges when you are serving customers.

To identify potential predispositions that you may have related to gender roles that are assigned to men and women in your society, give your first impressions for each adjective below. Do not think about the word, just react by placing an “F” by words that you feel best to describe females, an “M” by those that describe males and a “B” by those that could describe both females and males. Don’t go back to change an answer later.

Self Assessment:

Truck driver ___                     Soccer/Football player___               Sky diver____

Airline pilot___                      Pastry baker____                                Chef___

Baseball fan___                      Dog groomer____                              Bus driver___

Entrepreneur___                   Service professional____                 Nurse___

Romantic___                          Courageous____                                Emotional____

Spontaneous____                 Impatient____                                    Goal-oriented___

Sensitive____                        Funny___                                             Powerful___

Strong___                               Competitive____                                Loving___

Outspoken____                     Assertive___                                        Talkative___

Nurturing___                         Intelligent____                                   Driven___

Intuitive____                         Sexy___                                                Critical___

Once you have finished, go back and look to see how many of each letter you recorded. Most people typically have a mix of all three. If you look closely and think of all the people you have known, heard, or read about in your lifetime, you probably know some who fall into both categories. Therefore, if there is even one incident where an adjective could describe the opposite gender from the one that you’ve indicated, you may have some hidden stereotypes related to men or women and the gender roles they can/should fill. This does not mean that you are a prejudiced or a “bad” person. It simply means that you may want to work on expanding your knowledge about others and trying to develop a more open-minded perspective of them so that you do not inadvertently do or say anything that might endanger the customer-provider relationship.

Customer service training activities, customer service tips, customer service training ideas, and other useful information, related to interacting with diverse internal and external customers and that can lead to the delivery of excellent customer service, is in Please Every Customer: Delivering Stellar Customer Service Across Cultures. Other useful training activities are in Creative Learning: Activities and Games That Really Engage People.

Flip Chart Activity – Supervisory Training Session Icebreaker

Flip Chart Activity – Supervisory Training Session Icebreaker

Getting participants to actively become involved in a learning session can sometimes be a challenge and can potentially inhibit or slow leaning opportunities.  To help overcome this obstacle, you may want to consider a creative icebreaker activity like this one in your next supervisory training session, especially if participants do not work together regularly or do not know one another.

Flip Chart Activity - Supervisory Training Session IcebreakerPrior to the arrival of your participants in a supervisory training session where you will assign them to teams and have them work as groups throughout the program, place a page of flip chart paper, several different colored markers, and some painters tape at various points in the room.

Once everyone has arrived, form equal-sized groups and assign team leaders and scribes (note-takers) in a fun, creative manner.

Have each team select a group name and draw a graphic image that represents their team name. Once the time has elapsed, ask the team leaders to display their artwork, and explain why they chose their name and image. Follow this with individual introductions.

Next, assign a project, question, or challenge related to the session topic and allow learners time to discuss it (or come to a decision/solution) depending on the task. For example, in a supervisory session on delegation skills, you might have each team discuss reasons why many supervisors and leaders do not effectively delegate and how they might change that in their organization.

Flip Chart Activity – Supervisory Training Session Icebreaker by The Creative Trainer – Robert W. Lucas, Awarding Winning Brain-Based Adult Training Author

I like these types of activities early in a learning event because they provide a way to have participants get to know one another, relax a bit, and quickly become active participants in their own learning.

This type of activity can help get people immediately thinking and networking. And, it helps them recognize that you will be facilitating their learning, but not doing all the talking.

For additional ideas on creative ways to create, 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. FOr additional activity and game ideas, get a copy of Creative Learning: Activities and Games That Really Engage People.

Diversity Training Energizer Activity – Not That Different

Diversity Training Energizer Activity – Not That Different

In many instances, participants in diversity training programs do not realize that they have a lot more in common than they have differences. By using a diversity awareness activity in training you can help them recognize that fact. This can potentially break down some of the unconscious barriers that people have in the workplace when dealing with others.

The following activity can be used in a diversity training program or any program in which the facilitator’s goal is to bring a diverse group of strangers psychologically closer together for a learning event.

Diversity Training Energizer Activity – Not That Different by The Creative Trainer – Robert W. Lucas, Awarding Winning Author

Purpose:  To use an energizer activity start a meeting or learning event in a light-hearted manner and help attendees who may not work together see that there is often more similarity than diversity in a group.

Objectives:  Through this activity, participants will be able to:

  • Learn something about others in the room.
  • Have a chance to introduce themselves to others in the room.
  • Have a bit of fun.Diversity Training Energizer Activity - Not That Different


  • Inform participants they have five minutes to meet as many people as possible and share the information displayed on the prepared flip chart you have displayed in front of the room.
  • After five minutes, blow a whistle, sound a bell, or otherwise creatively alert the group.
  • Instruct them now to group with 3-4 other people.
  • They are, as quickly as possible, to determine three non-job-related things they have in common (e.g., like to cook).
  • Tell participants that once their group has discovered three items in common to shout out that they are finished.
  • Reward members of the winning group with a token prize (i.e., candy bar, button with a  program-related phrase, or whatever).
  • Have the group disclose their three items.
  • Flip chart individual responses as they are offered.
  • Ask remaining participants what they discovered as commonalities and flip chart those as well.
  • Stress that we often are more similar than we realize and that through interpersonal communication we can better discover the similarities.
  • Use this revelation to stress the open exchange of information during the meeting.

Materials Needed:

  • Prepared flip chart with the following information on it for display in front of the room at the beginning of the meeting or learning event:

– Who you are

– Job Title

– Where they work

TIME REQUIRED: Approximately 20-25 minutes, depending on group size.

For more activities and games that engage learners, get a copy of The Big Book of Flip Charts: A Comprehensive Guide for Presenters, Trainers and Team Facilitators, and Creative Learning: Games and Activities That Really Engage People.

Five Phases of Adult Learning

Five Phases of Adult Learning

Five Phases of Adult Learning

For learning to truly occur in an adult learning environment, a phased process is often helpful. The process that follows moves through five stages or phases. In a brain-based learning environment, participants are alerted to the learning experience in which they are about to take part. They are then led along a pre-planned path for transferring knowledge, skills, or attitudes back to the workplace or other venue.

Five Phases of Adult Learning by The Creative Trainer – Robert W. Lucas, Awarding Winning Adult Learning & Training Author

Using elements of the adult learning theory popular since that phrase was coined by Malcolm Knowles decades ago, you can develop sound approaches for engaging learners and helping them better gain, retain, recall and use what they experience.

Phase 1 – Preparing Participants for Learning

In the first phase of the learning process, you must condition participants for learning. This is typically done through icebreakers or creative training activities tied to the behavioral learning objectives or session outcomes and the actual training program content. In this introductory phase you grab attention and provide a foundation of information and help focus learner’s brains onto the topic to be addressed. By doing so, you increase the likelihood that they will quickly recognize, absorb, and process new information or stimuli and assimilate it into what they already know. Further, by providing a verbal, visual, and kinesthetic push, then identifying how the new information connects to what they already know, you can assist in bridging with memories they possess.

Phase 2 – Create a Stimulating Learning Environment

The second phase of the learning process incorporates handouts, job aids, or other visual material to supplement verbal messages. Such materials allow participants to better access information based on their own learning style (visual, auditory, or kinesthetic). To support learning content and aid comprehension, you can use associated visual aids to make key points, reinforce concepts, or provide alternative methods of information delivery. For example, colorful posters, transparencies or computer-generated slides, or flip charted information helps paint a mental image of the content.

Phase 3 – Reinforcing Learning 

Once the information has been delivered to the brain via one or more of the elements in Phase 2, connections are started. As a facilitator, you can enhance these bonds by conducting interim reviews throughout a session. During such reinforcements, you help mold and stabilize the learning through repetition and by helping learners see relationships. Such activities aid in increasing the depth of learner understanding while helping prepare them for Phase 4.

Phase 4 – Content Memorization

It is during this fourth phase that neural connections are made in the brain to help ensure that a learner can subsequently access or recall information and concepts learned. You can increase the effectiveness of this phase by teaching and using a variety of mnemonic or memory techniques. These strategies help learners to later access the information acquired.

Phase 5 – Implementation of Learning

In the final phase of learning, knowledge, or skills gathered are recalled and put into practice. If a learner is not able to successfully perform tasks or regurgitate information learned, there was likely a breakdown in the learning process and further review may be required.

To test the success of this phase, have participants demonstrate knowledge or skills through tests, practical application, or by teaching others.

For ideas on how to effectively design and deliver training that aids learning and embraces adult and brain-based learning concepts, get a copy a Training Workshop Essentials: Designing, Developing, and Delivering Learning Events That Get Results.

Tapping the Brain for Learning Video Added to YouTube

Bob Lucas
Robert (Bob) W. Lucas, Author, Training and Performance Consultant and Brain-Based Learning Facilitator

Tapping the Brain for Learning Video Added to YouTube

A three-part video that shares a presentation titled Tapping the Brain for Learning by internationally-known author and learning and performance consultant, Robert (Bob) W. Lucas, has been added to YouTube.

Tapping the Brain for Learning Video Added to YouTube by The Creative Trainer – Robert W. Lucas, Awarding Winning Adult Learning & Training Author

In it, Bob addresses topics covered in many of his books on how brain research related to learning can be applied in any adult classroom or training environment energize learners to enhance learning outcomes. To view these three video segments, click this link: Robert (Bob) W. Lucas on YouTube.

Learn This Blogger – Robert W. Lucas

Robert W. Lucas is an internationally-known author and learning and performance expert. He specializes in workplace performance-based training and consulting services. Furthermore, he has four decades of experience in human resources development, management, and customer service in a variety of organizational environments. Robert Lucas was the 1995 and 2011 President of the Central Florida Chapter of the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD).

Robert W. Lucas 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 or his blog

Engaging Adult Learners in the Classroom

Engaging Adult Learners in the Classroom

For learning to occur, engaging adult learners in the classroom is an important aspect of enhancing learning. By getting participants involved in the learning process, you increase the possibility that they assimilate knowledge and use what they learn.

Engagement must start as soon as learners enter the classroom, or before if possible so that they become active participants rather than passive bystanders. This is one of the basic elements of adult learning – people must be involved in the learning process in order to gain, retain, recall, and use what they experience.

Engaging Adult Learners

Unlike children, who often have little intrinsic motivation to be in the classroom and little previous knowledge or experience from which they can extract meaning and assimilate new information, adults typically want to be present and learn. They often seek new knowledge and skills that they can immediately apply on the job or in their life. This difference in learning style has been addressed by Malcolm Knowles and others who have focused on adult learning theory or andragogy and ways to involve adult learners.

Research indicates that long-term memories are formed when multiple senses capture sensory data and the brain assimilates the new information or matches it with existing knowledge. To help accomplish this when you are training adults look for ways to tap into various sensory channels through the use of environmental elements such as color, sound, images, motion, smells, novelty, movement, and physical activity.

Additionally, you can encourage the retention of key concepts and information through the use of repetition. For example, consider building in some form of review activity every 15-20 minutes to hold attention and reinforce what has been shared. By using these interim reviews rather than waiting until the end of a session, you enhance the possibility that your learners will walk away with more useful knowledge and skills.

Engaging Adult Learners in the Classroom by The Creative Trainer – Robert W. Lucas, Awarding Winning Adult Learning & Training Author

Some easy interim review formats include the following:

• Create strips of paper with different key ideas or concepts covered in the session up to that point on each one. Next, place one strip inside small plastic eggs of various colors (the type used in children’s Easter baskets). When you are ready to review, pass around a basket or box with these in it and have volunteers take one egg. Once all eggs are distributed, ask for volunteers to stand, open their egg, and read what is on their strip of paper.

Ask for anyone else in the room to define or explain the idea or concept. Reward the volunteer who answers correctly, then repeat the process until all eggs have been opened. A variation of this is to use various colored balloons placed on the wall before the session and have them retrieved and popped by volunteers for the review. This type of activity involves brain-based learning concepts of fun, novelty, repetition (review), color, sound (if using balloons) movement, and learner engagement.

• When ready to review, have learners turn to another participant and share one key concept learned thus far and how they plan to use it.

Engaging Adult Learners

• Depending on the session topic, use a What if? activity in which, at some point, you have each person take out a piece of paper and write “What If?” at the top of the page. Next have finished the statement with some key ideas or concepts learned in the session that they could immediately apply to their job or life.

• Use a Share the Knowledge review in which you have a volunteer team leader start a piece of paper around their table by first writing one key idea or concept learned up until that point in the session, then passing the paper to their left. Subsequent learners repeat the process until everyone has contributed something. Let them know before starting that it is okay to cheat and look at their notes if they cannot think of something to add.

After everyone has written something have the leader lead a discussion on which item the group believes to me most significant and discuss why they believe this to be true. Allow 5 minutes for this process, then have each team leader share the item their team selected with the rest of the groups. Reward team leaders with a small prize or piece of candy.

Training does not have to be boring or tedious. Think of ways to make your learning events come alive and engage your learners while reinforcing ideas and concepts.

To contact Bob visit his website at or his blog