Vocab of the day: Andragogy

Know what that word means?

I didn’t until a recent conversation with my colleague, Susan White, who specializes in coaching and adult education. Andragogy is the theory and practice behind the learning that continues long after we’ve sharpened our last #2 pencil.

As adults we become more self-directed in how we learn. It needs to be relevant, experiential and customized, to cite a few adult learning principles.

As Susan describes it, “adult education is the process of creating a meaning-filled life”.

Buzzword of the day: Microlearning

This word is showing up a lot in the world of corporate training. It’s on the radar of Chief Learning Officers as a “just-in-time” approach to training and development in a constantly changing workplace and workforce. Jack Makhlouf with elearningmind.com provides a concise overview of microlearning. He defines it as “a teaching style in which the learner requests and controls the delivery of short bursts of information”. Instagrams, tweets, vines and blogs can all fall in this category.

Technology is both a cause and solution here. While our attention span continues to decrease—about 8 seconds now—our capacity to quickly process information is increasing. Yes, we use social media to entertain, but how de we tap into its enormous potential to educate? Certain platforms are figuring out how to do this well, like TED Ed: Lessons Worth Sharing, but just like the first clunky attempts at e-learning courses and blended learning college programs, effective implementation takes trial, error, time and money.

A Microlearning Tool for the Ages

Here’s a super simple microlearning technique that doesn’t require any technology, except maybe a clock. Reflection shows up as a critical stage in every learning model out there.

Mary Amory, a member of the SeaChange Resources team, employs a 2-minute reflection period throughout her facilitation. It can be at the beginning of the week, as participants think about why they’re in the room and what they want out of the program. It can be at the opening of the day as they reflect on the learning from the day prior.

She uses it to enable introverts to collect their thoughts and extroverts to hold their thoughts; she uses it to heighten mindfulness, situational awareness and emotional intelligence. Finally, it’s the ultimate debrief tool: hitting the pause button long enough to take a deep breath, clear the mind and start figuring out what really happened.

What/So What/Now What

 Here’s a helpful way to frame up this briefest of debriefs:

  • What just happened? What would a surveillance camera have captured? What was the emotional impact? What did it feel like in the body?
  • So what are the implications of all that? Why might it matter?
  • Based on all that, now what should or could happen next?

It’s remarkable how much can occur in a mere 120 seconds. We all can spare 2 minutes, right?

Give it a try and see what comes up for you the next time you’re starting or ending something of significance.

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