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“Hey Paul, do you know about block chain?”, asked his colleague. Immediately, Paul gave him a gist of what he gathered from the ‘all-knowing’ Google; A big grin pasted on his face, happy about having a response at the click of a button.
This scene is all too familiar for most of us. The constant search for answers on Google or Wikipedia is a norm in this day and age. There is no doubt that most of the information is available. An important question, however, is if this information is fostering real, sustained learning! As professionals in the Learning industry, the task of bridging the knowledge gap through trainings is a bigger challenge today where the workforce has a quick fix answer from Google and Wikipedia for everything.
What’s important to remember, however, is that L&D teams provide two crucial facilities that learners often overlook – an assessment of learning needs, and a process for deep, sustained learning and skill building. Learners often know what they WANT to learn, not always what they NEED to learn with it, how to implement their learning, or even know to measure the effectiveness of learning.
The process of effective, sustained learning is initiated with preparation, by determining the intent for learning a specific skill or acquiring expertise on a certain subject. This is a crucial step, that most unfacilitated self-directed learning miss doing.
The second step is a matter of engagement, an important component to drive completion of learning. The elements employed in planning a self-paced course must be interactive and allow learners and instructors/ facilitators to connect and engage in meaningful conversations. The use of webinars, chats, discussion forums etc helps to keep the interest and the learner motivated to work till the end. The chief differentiator between the engagement provided by Google /Wikipedia in comparison to a self-paced course is the element of personalization. The relevance of learning for the learners is what drives the self-paced course towards completion.
Tutoring is the third crucial element. This factor gives learners an authentic experience. The learner receives an explanation and understanding of the information through means which are relevant to his/her understanding. Tutoring empowers and makes the learner independent. It is this element which is vastly customized and curated, giving the self-paced course an edge over Google and Wikipedia. We could also draw an analogy of Google/Wikipedia being a mathematics textbook and a maths teacher as the tutor who helps you understand, interpret and solve those complex problems. In a self-paced course, the tutoring element wins hands down and is augmented by various components like videos, quizzes, cases studies. Thus, driving the learner to delve deeper in the subject and not skim the surface.
The fourth factor that may appear to overlap with ‘googling’ is exploration. The difference is that learners are given additional references that they can use to build their knowledge and explore. It is definitive, curated and directional contrary to a mere ‘search on google’. This helps learners grasp and get more details about the subject or skill and make them ready for the final step, Review.
Learning comes a full circle when a learner can effectively implement what he/she has learnt and practiced. This fifth step in the process is all about getting the learning to work and see the triumphs and errors of it for real. It is then that learning is considered as complete and a success depending on the parameters set in the course.
For L&D professionals, factoring in these five steps of learning in the self-paced courses will ensure that learners are learning comprehensively, and effectively prepared to implement learning. While Google and Wikipedia are the go-to sources for information, learning is only achieved when the learner goes through the process of ‘preparation, engagement, tutoring, exploration and review or the phase of practice. Let’s call its P.E.T.E.R, for short. So, the next time Paul responds to your question, make sure that he’s gone through P.E.T.E.R and not Google!
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Published by: Nikita Madhu in Blog