Posted on

Learning

The Management Pocketbooks Pocket Correspondence Course

This is part of an extended management course. You can dip into it, or follow the course from the start. If you do that, you may want a course notebook, for the exercises and any notes you want to make.


  • Why do you need to learn?
  • What do you need to learn?
  • How will you learn?
  • What will you do with the knowledge if you do learn?

These four excellent questions put us in mind of Bernice McCarthy’s 4MAT System for learning – a model that will help you answer the ‘How will you learn?’ question.  But let’s start at the beginning: Why?

The true answer to ‘why learn?’ will always be ‘because you can; because it is human nature to; and because learning is a joyous process.’  But I am guessing many readers will be more specifically career-focused.  You may be a new manager, perhaps hoping for a promotion, perhaps wanting a new role.

Exercise 1: Why Learn

Look at at the previous blog post, Career Development, and then ask yourself:  ‘What is my purpose in embarking on job-related learning?’  Write your answers in your notebook.

Exercise 2: What to Learn

To determine what you most need to learn, conduct a SWOT analysis.  Take a cold critical view of your personal strengths and weaknesses.  Then look at the opportunities ahead of you and the threats that may set you back.  Compare your strengths and weaknesses with the opportunities and threats and, from that, determine your learning priorities.

SWOT Analysis

Exercise 3: How to Learn

It seems likely that we all have our preferred learning styles: reading and analysis, experimentation and playing, reflecting on experiences.  Think about a time when you learned most easily and comfortably.  What were you doing then?  This is possibly a good starting point for designing a learning process that will work for you.

Further Reading

Share this:
Posted on

If I were an employer…

… but I’m not: I’m a trainer

imageAs a trainer, a lot of my focus is on giving my participants the best possible learning experience.  I want to give them the best, most relevant, most accurate, most practical information that I can.

.

.

My clients are often Learning & Development departments in large organisations, who tell me what training their staff need, and agree with me what I will design and deliver to meet that need.  My public seminars advertise what you will get, and you turn up and get all of it and more.

The Gemba

As a trainer, I rarely get a chance to ‘go to the gemba’ – the place where the work gets done.  And that’s a problem, because, that’s where my training has an effect…

… or doesn’t.  Because, if I am not there, how can I know?  Happily, I am often asked to come in and coach staff directly, but as a trainer, I am really only able to directly influence whether participants like my training, and learn from my training.

These are, respectively, Levels 1 and 2 of Kirkpatrick’s four levels of learning.  The value to the business, however, comes with levels 3 and 4:

  1. Level 1: How do participants react?
  2. Level 2: What do participants learn?
  3. Level 3: How does the training affect workplace behaviour?
  4. Level 4: What results can the organisation measure?

Levels 3 and 4 result from the way that learners, trainers and employers collaborate to transfer participants’ learning back into their workplace.

So, If I were an employer…

If I were an employer, considering any training, or development investment at all, my first purchase would be the new Transfer of Learning Pocketbook.

This is an excellent addition to the Management Pocketbooks collection, by regular authors, Paul Donovan and John Townsend.  It offers you 17 factors that affect transfer of learning and allocates them into five stages.

The Training Process

This creates an exceptionally thorough analysis of how you can boost the value of any training you offer.

How Transfer Friendly is your Organisation?

The book ends with a learning transfer test to help you assess how ‘transfer friendly’ your organisation is.  It has fifty questions that you score on a scale of 0, 1 or 2 depending on whether you:

0 – don’t agree
1 – Partly agree
2 – Fully agree

To give you a flavour, here are five sample questions:

  1. Training professionals regularly participate in business unit/departmental strategic planning meetings
  2. Our course venues provide adequate space for participants to associate and exchange
  3. Our managers communicate clear expectations of forthcoming training to future learners
  4. Wherever possible, learners’ managers send pairs of ‘learning buddies’ to the same course
  5. Our trainers understand and speak the workplace jargon of the trainees

This should give you a transfer-friendliness score out of 10.  For your full evaluation, out of 100, buy the book!

Other Management Pocketbooks by
Paul Donovan and John Townsend

Paul and John have, between them, written a lot of Pocketbooks on the subject of training.

And, finally:

The Great Training Robbery, and

The Red, Green and Blue Trainer’s Pocketfiles of Ready-to-Use Activities

Share this:
Posted on

Learning and Happiness

It is Adult Learners’ Week again.

Adult Learners' Week 2011

It only seems like yesterday when we did our first Adult Learners’ Week blog.  Do you remember what the Three R’s really stand for?  If not, check back to last year’s blog.

What is Adult Learners’ Week?

Adult Learners’ Week is a campaign that ‘celebrates learning and learners in all their diversity, inspiring thousands of people each May to try something new. The initiative promotes the benefits of all kinds of learning, whether it is for fun or leading to a qualification.’

Happiness is on everyone’s agenda

The Saturday and Sunday papers are full of ‘happiness’ articles.  New Scientist (my favourite weekly) did a feature on it in April and Martin Seligman (the founder of Positive Psychology) has a new book out (Flourish: A New Understanding of Happiness and Well-Being – and How To Achieve Them).

Of course, with spring in the air, it is a good time to feel happy, but what has this to do with Adult Learners’ Week?

Flow and Happiness

A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog about flow.  Flow is a state where you become so immersed in something that time seems to stop, so that, when you finish, you have hardly an inkling of how much time has passed?  You may only then realise how cold, how hungry or even how desperate you are for the loo.

The originator of the concept and author of a fantastic book on the subject (Flow: The Psychology of Happiness) is Mihaly Csikszentmihaly.  Note the subtitle of the book: in it, he describes flow states as states of great pleasure and enjoyment.  So forget wealth, parties and drugs: get immersed in something with a clear goal and evident measures of progress, which stretches you to perform at your limits.

Flow and Learning

Let’s re-read the last part of that last sentence:

‘…get immersed in something with a clear goal and evident measures of progress, which stretches you to perform at your limits.’

This describes Csikszentmihaly’s three criteria for a flow state: a goal, feedback, and challenge.  It also is the definition of learning: knowing what you want to be able to do, understand, or create; being able to monitor your progress; and moving beyond your present capabilities.

The Fourth R (and maybe a fifth)

I hope that, by now, you’ll be curious enough to have discovered what the original three R’s were.  So I am ready to add my own extra R:

‘Reasoning and analysis’

Perhaps a fifth my be:

‘Remembering and recall’

Back when I did maths at school, we took a little foray into classical logic, which is based on maths, of course.  We learnt about robust and faulty reasoning, and in particular, I recall the concept of syllogism.  Take two statements:

Learning creates flow

Flow creates happiness

A syllogism is a form of argument that makes a deduction from two statements of known truth…

Learning and Happiness

Stephen Hawking was told by his publisher that every equation he put into ‘A Brief History of Time’ would halve its sales.  He didn’t do so badly!  So I’ll take a chance and put one of my own into this blog, knowing you don’t pay to read it anyway:

Learning = Happiness

So here’s the Deal

If it is not already a habit, make this week a week to learn.  Here are ten top tips for how.

  1. Check out the Adult Learners’ Week website for ideas and opportunities
  2. Set yourself a challenge to take your hobby or passion to the next level and start working on it
  3. Watch a documentary on TV
  4. Find a new blog to read
  5. Take an hour to research a topic you’ve always been interested in
  6. Go out to lunch with a colleague and ask them to tell you all about their specialism, hobby, degree subject or favourite book
  7. Sign up for an evening class
  8. Pick up a quality magazine or newspaper and read it cover to cover
  9. Go to a library or a bookstore, choose a subject at random, pick the most appealing book on the shelves and read it
  10. Go for a long walk, notice the things around you (weather, buildings, trees, animals, people, vehicles, …) and when you get home, research any one of them that captures your interest

Management Pocketbooks you might enjoy

It’s tempting to say: ‘all of them’ but let’s face it; we all have our favourites and there are some you won’t like as much.  So, as a learner, or a trainer, or a teacher, here are some pocketbooks you might like:

Learning

Training

Teaching
(Thank you to our sister blog,
The Teachers’ Pocketbooks Blog)

Share this:
Posted on

Learning and Making Connections

This week is Adult Learners’ Week.  This is a long-running campaign that encourages adults in all spheres of life to focus on their learning and the benefits they can get from it.

The joy of learning

The Adult Learners’ Week website is full of stories of adults whose lives have been transformed by learning and without a doubt, learning is one the greatest powers for personal and social transformation.

Learning changes your outlook and your potential.  It is available to everyone, and anyone can do it.  Its benefits range from the pure joy of knowing something new or understanding what was previously hidden, to enjoying a longer, more fulfilling life.

We can learn alone, browsing through books, journal or websites, or together with friends and colleagues.  We can learn fundamental skills or advanced concepts; and we can learn manual expertise, aesthetic sensitivity or abstract concepts.  So far there is no evidence that even hints at a limit on our capacity for learning.

A wonderful snippet of knowledge

I am indebted to Dr Peter Honey – a man who exemplifies life-long learning and whose blog is well worth reading – for a wonderful snippet of knowledge that he slipped into a column for Training Journal several years ago.

Have you ever wondered about ‘the three Rs’?  Why does one start with ‘W’ and why are two both about literacy?  What about other areas of knowledge.  Well, Peter pointed out that the origins of the phrase are far more generous in their spread of knowledge, though no more literal in their interpretation of ‘R’.

Peter’s article tracks the phrase back to an origin that recognises the value of vocational as well as other learning; a triangle of:

Reading and writing

Reckoning and arithmetic

Wrighting and wroughting

Wroughting

How far we’ve come.

Now, not only do we not teach wrighting and wroughting, but my spell checker does not even acknowledge their existence.  Yet the power of vocational skills to transform lives is as great as ever.  Three examples strike me from my own friends, in anonymised form:

  1. Ben has never thrived at school.  By taking a vocational pathway at Key Stage 4, however, he is able to combine an NVQ in Construction at a local college for one day a week with English, Maths and core Science.  A feeling that he can now do something he is good at, the prospect of a job, and seeing how the concepts make sense in the real world are spurring Ben to make headway with Maths and Science for the first time.
  2. Suzy was academic at school, did well at university and got a series of high-paying and demanding jobs.  For her, however, work was a source of excitement only in the early days of each new job.  What keeps her enthusiastic about life is learning new skills at weekends, in evening classes and in holidays.  She focuses on craft activities and rarely has to buy Christmas presents – she makes them all herself.
  3. Rob had a highly successful teaching career, rising to Head of Department at a well-regarded secondary school and inspiring his pupils to achieve great grades.  Then, one day, he realised that his next step would not be another teaching post.  Turning to one of his great passions in life, Rob took a huge risk and applied for a lease on a blacksmith’s forge.  Now he spends his days wrighting gates and wroughting the steel they are made from.

So here’s the deal

  1. Make a commitment to yourself to learn something new this week.
  2. Take a look at Jenny’s great blog, Learning to Learn, on the Teachers’ Pocketbook blog

Management Pocketbooks you might enjoy 1: Predictable

As a learner, or a trainer, or a teacher, here are some pocketbooks you might like:

Learning

Training

Teaching
(Thank you to our sister blog,
The Teachers’ Pocketbooks Blog)

Management Pocketbooks you might enjoy 2: Random

Hey! Learning is not just about a programme, it’s also about serendipity.  Follow these links to random Pocketbooks and look up the words you don’t know.  How many can you drop into conversation this week?

Acknowledgements

Thank you to Ros and Regina who each tipped me off to Adult Learners’ Week

Share this: