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Nigel Walpole Is technology changing the way our brains learn?

Everyone who works in L&D will have come across, and probably quoted, statistics that say something like:

24 hours after you have heard something, you’ll only remember 10% of what you heard… if you have done something, you’ll remember it for a bit longer.

For years this has steered L&D professionals towards activity, skills practice, simulation, case studies, role play, forum theatre – and quite right too.

But is technology in its latest guises changing the rules? Is an “Apportunity” being created?

We’ve heard how evolution seems to be developing the ‘texter’s thumb’ – a re-run of how we evolved due to the invention of tools back in the Stone Age.

But are our brains, the way we learn and what we need to learn changing too?

Let’s be clear, in this Social Media Age there really is no need to be uninformed about anything.

Today, to discover who did what or what they looked like; seek out an expert opinion on something; learn about a new skill or find out when something happened, we head for a search engine. “About 260,000,000 results in 0.29 seconds” are just a matter of clicks, or swipes, away.

This essentially means we don’t need to remember anything except how to look it up again.

Will evolution then change the way our brains work - store less information but become more adept at knowing just know how to access it?

And does this change L&D?

Well, it suggests a decrease in the need for background knowledge, at least the kind of knowledge that would, in the past, traditionally be provided through ‘pre-course reading’. The message is clear, let people perform research independently and hone those now-vital new research skills.

Of course, we then need to make sure those skills are optimised and we can get the most out of the new research channels and practices available to us.

I’ll have a look at that in the next blog in this series.


Nigel Walpole, MD, Bray Leino Learning

In my series of blogs I’ll talk through my thoughts on some of the key issues facing managers in the workplace - lessons learnt, tips for success and general musings.

Copyright © 2013 Bray Leino Learning

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