On the Anectode blog, Daryl referenced an interesting Star Article by Louise Brown titled The fine art of (not) lecturing. In it Brown references criticisms of the typical lecture model used in post-secondary education by Nobel laureate Carl Wieman, leader of the $2 million-a-year Carl Wieman Science Education Initiative for improving science learning.
The article references some interesting points:
- people don't remember what they don't pay attention to
- short-term memory can only process four ideas at a time - reduce the load and stimulate the brain
- vigorous interaction – the guessing, answering and arguing and persuading – stimulates protein in the brain, which in turn helps anchor ideas into long-term memory
- we remember only those things we think have meaning at the time, and ignore everything else (Ever re-read something months or years from the original read only to take away a whole new understanding? I certainly have.)
- we can remember only seven items at a time and can process only four ideas at once
Given the relative truth in these statements, and the old axiom in the facilitation world that "the brain falls asleep 2.8 seconds after your posterior does," I wonder why lecture based "training," with a typical talking head at the front of the room, is still often equated with effective learning. Why so many corporate communication, or "change management" programs focus on pushing information, presuming that once communicated, it will be consumed, understood, accepted and duly acted upon. And why groups often resist efforts to facilitate the interactivity necessary to generate mutual learning in support of problem solving and decision making into meetings and workshops.
If you at least notionally agree that knowledge is created through active learning in context, supported by quality, relevant content, then it is critical for the exchange / transfer of knowledge to be highly interactive, with active engagement by the learner in the process. Passivity is counter productive.
Sounds a bit like adult learning 101, doesn't it? At least it seems to be the common ground for collaboration between human resource management and knowledge management.