Taking a Brain-Based Learning Approach to Training Design and Development
Using creativity in training to establish a brain-based learning environment is essential for helping learners better gain, retain, recall, and use what they experience. As trainers and educators, you should open your eyes and take an objective look around from time-to-time in order to discover examples, issues, and ideas that can be incorporated into workshops and other learning vehicles. These observations might form the basis of an analogy or story that can help introduce or support a topic in one of your learning sessions. By collecting and assimilating such information and strategies, you will be able to better develop a creative learning environment.
Taking a Brain-Based Learning Approach to Training Design
One strategy that you might consider to identify new material and strategies to enhance your training is to conduct what I call a creativity analysis. By doing so you can often pinpoint issues and items that are important from a values standpoint or that impact various elements within a culture. Such a scan is especially effective if you travel to locations that are outside your own organization, geographic area, or comfort zone.
There are many cultures in various locations throughout the world where people view things differently and approach learning and life from a diverse perspective. They potentially view education and training from a standpoint that is literally foreign to you. These differences can cause challenges for you as a facilitator if they are new to you. They can also provide a learning opportunity and chance to expand your knowledge and grow professionally.
As part of your analysis, consider looking for trends in clothing, transportation, business processes, religious beliefs, and other key aspects of life which might be incorporated or compared to your personal or societal norm. Think of how these elements might serve as a basis for discussion in a session that you design or facilitate.
The following techniques may provide possible material, concepts, or ideas that can be easily integrated into your brain-based training design, training delivery, or learning content in your next training programs:
- Scan movies, television, or radio programs. Look for ideas, material, or trends related to program content.
- Evaluate newspapers, advertising, billboards, and professional magazine articles (about related topics/skills). Try to identify potential resources and societal issues.
- Scrutinize junk email and mail you receive. Through it, determinations about existing resources and what else is being done in the field or on a specific topic can be made.
- Brainstorm alone or with others. Take some time to evaluate and consider changing what is currently, or has historically been done in programs. To accomplish that, ask the following questions:
(a) What is currently being done which might inhibit or limit participant learning?
(b) What can be expanded to enhance learning?
(c) What is being done to ensure that the knowledge and skills learned in the classroom are transferred to the workplace?
(d) What techniques, strategies, or activities can be combined to increase learning?
(e) What techniques, strategies, props, incentives, or approaches could be substituted for ones currently in use?
(f) How can techniques, strategies, activities, incentives, or props be used in other programs to effective learning?
(g) What steps, processes, or information currently used could be reorganized in a different order to increase effectiveness?
- Capture ideas. Keep a tape recorder or pen and paper handy at all times (IE By the bed, in the car, on desktop) to capture creative ideas and thoughts as they occur.
- Take idea excursions. Search for props, incentives, and materials that can be adapted or used for training are everywhere. Go on outings specifically to find new anything that might enhance learning, involve participants, and add sizzle to your programs.
Some possible idea excursion locations to explore and what to look for follow. Do not forget a pen and paper or a tape recorder to capture your ideas.
(a) Toy stores (games, incentives, and props).
(b) Catalog suppliers (toys, games, incentives, props, prizes, software, and music).
(c) Teacher supply stores (incentives, clip art, and craft supplies).
(d) Discount/Clearance or closeout stores (toys, games, incentives, prizes, and admin supplies).
(e) Department stores (toys, incentives, and supplies).
(f) Card/Gift stores (prizes and incentives).
(g) Costumes stores (props and incentives).
(h) Magic shops (props, attention gainers, self-working magic tricks, and incentives).
(i) Flea markets (toys, incentives, prizes, and supplies).
(j) Book stores (incentives, prizes, and reference materials).
(k) Software stores (puzzle software, games, presentation productivity software/clip art).
(l) Party supply stores (noisemakers, incentives, confetti, and themed decorations, props, and supplies).
(m) Specialty shops (varies depending on inventory maintained).
(n) Arts and crafts stores (clip art, poster board, spray adhesive, supplies, and incentives).
- Contact wholesale suppliers. There are numerous suppliers that can provide creative incentives, materials, programs, and products which can be adapted or used to enhance learning. Once you set up a commercial account with them, you get access to their catalog of products at discounted prices.
There is no limit to what you can adapt and use in your learning events. You are limited only by your imagination. Identify your program content and a theme to go with it, then search for items that can help make the content come alive and remain memorable to your learners.
For an encyclopedia of creative ideas and ways to incorporate brain-based learning strategies into your training and adult education programs, consider getting a copy of The Creative Trainer Idea Book: Inspired Tips and Techniques for Engaging and Effective Learning.