Put Learning on a Diet

I’m sure we can all agree time is precious. Rarely do we have an abundance of extra time away from work for training and learning-workshops. Today most people receive the bulk of their training on the job and learn in short snippets. I have noticed, especially with adult learners, holding people hostage in daylong learning workshops can be counterproductive.

Recently I came across an interesting article titled, “Put Learning on a Diet,” a title that struck me immediately. Before reading, my thought was, learn less? I don’t think so!  But afterward, I had a much better understanding and am in complete agreement.

The author, Elliott Masie, discusses how learning doesn’t have to take hours on end. Instead, he says it is more effective when you leave out all the ‘fluff’; or as he states, “the bloated content.” He goes on to list reasons why time and time again courses are overloaded with unnecessary material. My favorite:

“Least Common Denominator:  We often design for the least competent and experienced learner, which results in teaching things many people already know.”

In my experience, I am definitely guilty of this. I want to make sure I cover everything but along the way the engagement decreases significantly. I have learned one way to combat this is to survey my audience before designing the course/workshop. Find out what they know and what they don’t know. That way I don’t waste time repeating information they have already mastered and I can maximize the time by focusing on new material.

In my opinion, delivery of information must be purposeful, compact, and ready for immediate use. I encourage you to take a moment to read this article as the author outlines additional points regarding the ineffectiveness of the bloated content phenomenon.


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