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The Future Of Learning And Coaching

The Future Of Learning And Coaching
In order for true learning to take place, an educator must have a clear picture of why their students want to learn the information. In this way, educators can teach effectively and ensure that students will learn and stay interested. Photo by Jason Rogers.

In 2007, companies spent $127 BILLION dollars on training. What is the purpose of training? Either to impart a particular technical skill or to create a change in behavior. Technical training success is easy to gauge. You either can perform the skill or not. Unfortunately, most of the training designed to create behavioral change fails to accomplish this goal.

Did you know that up to 90% of learning and 100% of the application of that learning takes place outside of the classroom? Think about that for a minute. That explains the “three ring binder” syndrome. We go to a training session and are excited about the many changes we will make. Then, we get back to our work and our daily lives, and that enthusiasm falls by the wayside. So we put the binder a shelf. A year goes by until we need the binder. So we take the contents and inserts out of the binder and throw them away. Does this sound familiar? We’ve all done it.

The future of learning will be self paced with ample opportunities to access the learning whenever and whenever you want. You will be able to create connections that will allow you to learn at your own pace and utilize the learning techniques that work for you. We will have learning via social networks, via our phones, and via the internet. Learning will take place in groups and everyone will help each other to learn. Learners will have accountability built into the learning and mentors to help them to understand and apply all of that great information out there. That is why all of our programs are a year in duration. We have found that the changes in behavior due to the application of the learning BEGINS around the four to five month mark. And this learning environment is filled with continual follow-up, daily application, daily reflection, ample accountability, and is reinforced continually by informal learning methods such as weekly emails, blogs, chat rooms, videos, and other media.

It comes as no surprise that we don’t ever create any behavioral changes in a weekend seminar! With this continuous learning model, these behavioral changes are pretty solid by the seven to eight month mark, and we give it a few more months just to be sure and to let any slower paced folks catch up. And it doesn’t end there. We have reunions each year and check in with some evaluations followed by a 1/2 day session where we check in with what has changed, where are you going now, and what will you need to get there. The participants then create new plans going forward for that next year. It is vital to check in because people will revert back to old behaviors, especially during stressful times. And can you think of any more stressful times than now?

Check out the following videos that illustrate these points. First, a TED Talk by Salman Kahn. Next, you should take a look at our take on traditional learning and how we have changed that paradigm with the Total Leadership Program.

But just knowing how people learn and apply information is not enough. Why do people make the effort to learn something? There may be several reasons. They may find joy in learning. They may like to be “in the know”. They may want to impress people with their knowledge. They may want to acquire skills that will enable them to be more successful. They may want to get ahead in life. But I think as teachers and trainers, it is imperative that we ask this vital question, “Why are you here? Why do you want to learn?” The answer will be different for different people, but they must understand why they are putting forth this effort. In the Bible, before healing him, Jesus asked the man, “Do you want to be healed?”

So, before starting anything new, before embarking on that road to learning and creating change, ask yourself that vital question, “Why?” Once you know why you want to learn, the rest becomes easy. You will have the intrinsic motivation to learn. And intrinsic motivation is much better than any kind of extrinsic motivation. You can make people go to classes. You can offer learning credits. You can offer incentives that encourage people to learn. You can set a good example as a leader. But if you don’t get at the individual motivation for learning and creating change, you are banging your head against the wall.

Our academic world has lost that sense of learning. Most students ask the same question: “What do I need to know for the test?” When I told some professors that I wanted to our final session to include how to create lifelong learning, they declined to participate. They said, “We’re giving them a test.”  Regurgitation of information without the “why” will not stay with students for very long. They feel such pressure to perform, they have lost the joy of learning and the real reason they are in school.

So at the start of every class that you take or every class that you teach ask the participants, “Why are you here? What do you hope to get out of this? How will you apply it to your life and work? What changes do you hope to create?” Have them write these down as a way to solidify their motivation. Then, when you start the learning process, you will have a room full of motivated folks who truly want to learn.