What is lossless learning?
The techies out there will have come across the terms ‘lossy’ and ‘lossless’ for saving data. If you save a photo in a lossless format, you won't lose any of the important detail in the image. This week, while attending an edtech conference, I heard the term applied to learning.
Every trainer has experienced that moment when you realise your trainees have misunderstood the concept you were trying to get across in the previous session, or worse, forgotten it completely. The data has been lost or corrupted in the transfer. The learning is lossy.
Tutors may think that their learning has been successful if their delegates are able to complete a quiz at the end of a training session. Learners may recognise the content for a while but it doesn't last. So how do you ensure your delegates have really learned and understood? How do you make it stick?
Adding the following elements to your training will help make learning lossless:
- The purpose, aims and outcome of the session
Put the learning in context. When you introduce a session, either online or face-to-face, make sure your learners understand the big picture by providing them with a list of the aims and objectives of the session. Why are they learning this? What is its relevance to them? What are they going to come away with and how does it fit into the rest of the course? At the end of the session you can get learners to return to these, to check that the aims have been met and with the help of your learners you can plan what happens next.
- Archive of materials and session content
Make all your materials available for learners to access in their own time. Make it accessible for their smartphones and mobile devices so they can get to the content whenever they need it. Use lesson recording or screen recording software or encourage learners to record sessions themselves and share with fellow learners. These could be notes from a session, blog posts, smartphone video or audio. Share your presentations on your LMS, a Virtual Learning Platform or a service like Slideshare and encourage learners to comment or ask questions about these online.
- Quizzes and portfolios
Get as much evidence that your delegates are learning as possible. Not just the obligatory multiple choice quiz for each session or end of course assessment. Use blogs and portfolios to demonstrate learning as it happens and provide evidence of the progress and development. This way you can intervene before too much learning is lost. Make sure quizzes are designed to test understanding of concepts and to challenge... not just recall.
- Learner analytics and branching
Make the delivery of your course as flexible and personal as possible. Use the results of formative assessment and observation of delegate activity to create individualised learner journeys. Add branching to your online learning or split learners into groups to develop specific skills and knowledge as required. If you have learner analytics built in to your LMS, use them.
- Peer assessments and peer support
Building peer assessment and tutoring into your training is probably the most effective way of making your learning lossless. Organise your learners into support groups or Action Learning Sets so that they can help each other understand concepts. Add FAQs and forums to your LMS for learners to manage themselves. If you make it part of their training to support fellow trainees, by contributing to discussions and forums or demonstrating skills and procedures, they are more likely to retain what they have learned. There is no more effective way of learning a skill or concept than trying to teach it to someone else. Make some of your formative assignments peer assessed. This will really instil an understanding of the learning objectives in your trainees and let them see the alternative perspectives of their fellow learners.
With these few changes you can make learning lossless.
Contact us for tips on improving learning contact
Catherine Sellars, Editor
Supporting innovation in teaching and learning
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