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Beyond the classroom: How to juggle learning styles at work

Beyond the classroom: How to juggle learning styles at work

Beyond the classroom: How to juggle learning styles at work

By Sydney Radclyffe for Box News

When we come together in the workplace, we understand that we’re there for a common goal. Whether launching an app or coming up with government policy, members of a team must be able to communicate and share an understanding to make a project successful.

This would be simple if all people thought, learned, and understood things in the same way, but that’s not always the case.

Different people, individual learners

Working effectively as a group requires people to listen, adapt, communicate and, most importantly, be willing to learn and understand new information – both from one another and about the task at hand.

The fact that people absorb information in different ways, which can sometimes feel incompatible, means that miscommunication and missed information is, on some level, inevitable. But this doesn’t have to result in a dead-end.

According to behavioural scientists, these are the six styles which define learning in adulthood:

Visual

A visual learner finds it most natural to get information from diagrams: the written word, slideshows, flip chart graphics and animation.

Aural

This kind of learner prefers listening – lectures, podcasts, even songs all help them absorb information.

Print

This doesn’t only mean reading, but can also involve writing down thoughts or taking notes on something.

Tactile

This is learning by jumping in and doing – written instructions won’t be of much help.

Interactive

This learner thrives in discussions, a lively back and forth like Q&A or debate sessions.

Kinaesthetic

A kinaesthetic learner absorbs information better while moving the body, so physical training exercises and role-plays will be helpful.

Catering to a range of diverse learning styles may seem too difficult or like a massive outlay of effort, but it’s easier than you think. In a teaching environment, presenting the material in as many ways as possible – for example, giving engaging graphics with spoken explanation, then allowing people to take notes and discuss the new knowledge – will make sure that nobody falls through the cracks.

Understanding the different ways in which adults learn makes all the difference to a harmonious, productive work environment.

Learning beyond the classroom

As kids, everything we see and do is a learning experience, with new impressions constantly expanding and re-forming our worldview.

As adults, we tend to feel that we’ve seen it all; the lessons we learned early in life, deeply-held convictions, and a wealth of experience act as a barrier against organic learning. It’s counter-intuitive but, as humans, the more we learn, the less we tend to think there’s anything left to find out.

Understanding the five principles of how we need to learn in adulthood, in contrast with ‘effortless’ childhood learning, will make teaching adults in the workplace much more manageable:

Self-direction

We’ve all been through school, so it’s easy to understand why some people find it hard to engage with anything that feels like forced learning. For adults to learn effectively, the process must be self-led. This can be as simple as asking someone what they want to tackle first, rather than merely handing it down.

Opportunity for critical reflection

When a learning opportunity arises, success depends on the way we something’s framed. If a person trying to learn something new feels they’re being told off for getting something wrong, they’re likely to withdraw and lose motivation. A good teacher will make it easy for a learner to reflect on what went wrong and why.

Building on experiences to create new ones

Kids are a bit like a blank slate, but adult learners are full of existing experiences and impressions. Connecting these real-world examples to the material at hand, rather than trying to conjure up fun explanations, will ensure that learning points are relatable and ‘sticky’.

Purpose or desired outcome

A working adult will have a host of responsibilities, concerns, and other potential distractions on their plate, so a clear, agreed-upon goal is essential to the learning process. If a person feels like they’re wasting their time or doesn’t know why they’re learning in the first place, no amount of convincing will bring the message home. 

Learning to learn

The biggest hurdle will often be getting back into the mindset of inquiry – once we leave school, we get out of practice with learning. Accessing this sense of childhood curiosity can be hard, but by being sensitive to how adults learn best, a teacher can make the process fruitful and painless.

Staying flexible

Most of us are aware that we don’t all learn information in the same way, but this often results in misguided attempts to impose a rigid standard, especially in the workplace, where goals and deadlines require a reliable system. This makes people feel less engaged, motivated, and responsible for their learning.

By bringing in a variety of learning inputs and making sure we cater to the unique learning needs of adults, a harmonious, smooth-running work environment is well within reach. The important thing is recognising that collaboration and diversity don’t make us weaker – they’re our most significant source of strength.

Cool Cousin and the future of travel

Cool Cousin and the future of travel

‘Cool Cousin’ and the future of travel

By Alex Hill for Box News

TripAdvisor used to brand itself as the “World’s most trusted travel site”. Yep, that actually happened. To put this claim in proportion, that’s a bit like Cambridge Analytica describing itself as the “World’s most trusted consulting firm”. Or me describing myself as the “World’s most trusted semi-detached house”. It’s just not true. 

 

TripAdvisor has consistently been at the centre scandal. From the Cornish hotel that bribed guests to write good reviews, to the non-existent restaurant—‘The Shed at Dulwich’—that, thanks to a Vice journalist, ended up at the top of TripAdvisor’s rankings for restaurants in London. 

 

Eventually, TripAdvisor executives stopped finding their trademark delightfully ironic so in 2013. After a string of lawsuits, they changed their tagline to a more modest boast—the “World’s largest travel site”.

The power of anonymity

Fundamentally, the problem with TripAdvisor is that it gives too much power to the anonymous traveller. Anyone can post reviews (or be paid to post reviews) and, in that process, potentially harm an entire city’s tourist industry.

Here at Box News, we look into problems like these. Issues of corruption, misinformation and mismanagement. And, then we keep an eye out for the people who want to bring about change.

We spoke to Cool Cousin, a new travel tech venture, who reckon they offer something unique. Let’s find out.

Long lost relatives or close relations

On the Cool Cousins app, users can connect with locals (“Cousins”) who show off their favourite places to eat, drink, dance, and whatever-verb-is-used-for-walking-slowly-through-a-gallery.

All the Cousins have a profile telling you how old they are, what they do, and then shows their map—their unique guide to their city. If you have questions, you can message the Cousin, and they’ll get back to you within 24 hours.

Locals helping you to unlock the secrets of the city

Callum Hale-Thomson, Cool Cousins’s Head of Business Development, explained to me why their app keeps travellers happy.

“We live in a world of information overload. We’re constantly being bombarded by websites like TripAdvisor, Yelp,” Callum said. “All we want is to be guided, and to be given something that’s super relevant to us and has not been driven by corporate interests.”

In other words, we want the advice of someone who can unlock a city for us. We want a local’s perspective.

“You want to be guided by your Cousin because you trust them, on an emotional and personal level, and you’d like to think they’re not going to rip you off.”

“It’s why all of our descriptions aren’t just recommendations of a place, it explains why the local goes there, and what they do there.”

More than just a travel guide

Cool Cousin isn’t just for the benefit of travellers. They also want to help out locals.

Callum explains:

“We’re seeing huge amounts of over-tourism in cities. Look at Barcelona: there’s marches saying, ‘Refugees welcome. Tourists go home.’ La Rambla – it’s full of tourist traps. Whereas, we might tell you that 15 minutes away, there’s a fantastic tapas bar and that’s been run by the same family for 100 years. You can go there, it’ll be cheaper, and you’ll be supporting the local economy. And our cousins will tell you how to behave there, what to order, and how to be respectful.”

It seems that the locals are loving it …

“Locals are so willing to be those cultural ambassadors, not for any financial gain. I was shocked when I discovered that our cousins love to reply to messages. People want a say in how their city is appreciated. What we’re trying to do is give those locals a voice and let them say, ‘Look, this is my city and how I live my life and this is how you can be part of that life.'”

Continual learning is an ecosystem

Continual learning is an ecosystem

Continual learning is an ecosystem

By Alasdair Munn for Box News

It’s fair to say that most of us understand that the nature of work is changing. AI and automation are heralding a new dawn in the way we work. The ability to be adaptive, ask the right questions, and to apply critical thinking is becoming just as important as the sum of the knowledge we hold in our brains.

The way we are learning needs to change

Although we say things like ‘learning is a lifelong pursuit”, the way we structure workplace learning is reactive. As jobs are continually evolving, we need to adapt, re-skill and up-skill all the time. 

Applied learning throughout our careers is becoming essential. And, as we begin to implement human plus machine, where we focus more on what it is to be human at work, personalised learning journeys become essential.

Learning is a team sport

Yet learning is not an individual responsibility, and it doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Companies are understanding more and more their investment in training has to translate into directed learning.

It makes sense to recruit people who have the right aptitudes towards adaptation, communication and learning and then skill them towards companies’ changing needs. We hear a lot from companies who say ‘Our people make us who we are’. But, much of recruitment is still centred on skills before people and then spending resources to make those people ‘our people’.

This may have made sense in an environment of slow or static change, but as the nature of work evolves, this recruitment strategy will become less effective.

Training as an ecosystem

Training can no longer be an added layer, brought in to fix a broken system. Learning, up-skilling, re-skilling and empowering employees has to be part of an extended ecosystem. It needs to be embedded into and informed by the entire organisation.

When we talk about personalised learning journeys, we don’t mean people in a vacuum; we mean the individual AND the organisation.

‘Personalised learning’ means specific to the needs, learning preferences, skills, gaps, competencies of the individual. We think of this in relation to the learning outcomes and objectives that have been identified by the organisation.

Seeing learning differently

This is an approach that we at Box Media take towards developing our workplace content and the environment in which it lives. As capabilities grow and we leave behind legacy systems, we will see the relationship between content, individual, purpose, objectives and skill development grow closer together. 

This approach extends beyond the immediate employee-employer relationship. Imagine a world where you can apply this to your recruitment strategy. A genuine focus on people can attract the right people for your business and allow them to develop the attributes your business needs before they start day one. 

We love what Workbay are doing as an example of creating connected ecosystems in recruitment.

It is an exciting time. Change brings disruption, but disruption allows us the opportunity to focus on getting the fundamentals right as we apply the inevitable new processes to our businesses.