Written by Matt Varley

Why traditional training methods need to integrate new ways of learning.

According to neuroscientist Gregory Berns, the human brain is just “a lazy piece of meat”. 

Compare your brain to a student. One minute they’re knocking out an essay on “the problems of applying quantum theory to the classical world”. The next they’re laying around on the sofa eating left over pizza watching Made in Chelsea wondering whether Binky will get off with Ollie’s girlfriend. 

The human brain has a limited capacity for doing clever stuff, at which point the lazy brain takes over. In order to get the lazy brain to pay attention, it needs new ways of seeing things. For example, learning to drive a car requires a huge amount of brain processing power, but once we’ve learnt, we do it almost without thinking. Go across The Channel in a hired car, and all of a sudden the brain starts paying attention again. Otherwise something like this might happen.

Training and coaching methods that keep the modern brain engaged (animation, video, social media, mobile apps, etc) mean that the traditional face-to-face model of training delivery is fast becoming outdated. Traditional methods still have their place, but need to be integrated with modern ways of learning.

The 70:20:10 framework is a useful reference model for the way we learn. The exact proportions change depending a number of factors. However, the principle is that we learn mostly by performing new and challenging experiences in the work place. Around 20% is down to social learning i.e. sharing experiences with others – colleagues, coaches, mentors and good quality feedback. The remainder is from structured courses. 

It is reassuring to know that not all traditional habits are dead. In towns and cities across the country on a 2-4-1 drinks night, many a student can still be spotted wandering the streets with a street cone on their head. But, they’re more likely to fall asleep watching, Netflix, chatting on Twitter, or playing Clash of Clans.

When you integrate training with social learning, and encourage staff to use what they have learned in the workplace, you create a powerful learning experience which quickly impacts on business performance.

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