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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.

Taking the time to talk about mental health

Taking the time to talk about mental health

Talking of Mental Health

By Alex Hill for Box News

There’s good news and bad news in Accenture’s recent report on mental health in the workplace. 

The bad news first

The sheer scale of the problem is even more significant than we had previously thought. Two-thirds of UK workers have reported personal experience of mental health challenges, and 85 per cent say that someone close to them has.

“We’re used to hearing that one in four people experience mental health challenges,” said Barbara Harvey, mental health lead for Accenture’s business in the UK, “yet our research shows that the number of people affected is in fact far higher.” The closer we look at the problem of mental health, the larger it appears.

… but there is good news too

It seems that the taboo around talking about mental health is loosening its grip. 82 per cent of those surveyed said they were more willing to speak openly about mental health issues now than they were just a few years ago.

Thanks to a variety of campaigns, and the efforts of many individuals, people are increasingly ready to talk about their mental health.

Kind of …

You see, the survey also reports some hesitations.

Of those who had faced a personal mental health crisis, the majority (61 per cent) had not spoken to anyone about their issue. So, the taboo around talking seems to be disappearing, but people are still struggling to open up.

Things are improving, but there’s still a long journey ahead

As a society, it seems, we’ve got much better at talking about how we ought to talk about mental health, but we’re still struggling to—well—talk about mental health. Put another way, most of us now know that it’s OK to talk, but we’re still not sure what to say. (Or, crucially, how to listen.)

Our friend Geoff McDonald, co-founder of Minds@Work, can help us here. And if you haven’t already, then make sure to watch his TED Talk. 

Geoff speaks openly about his own mental health and thoughtfully about the mental health of others. In his talk, he proposes two concrete steps for improving mental health in the workplace. 

Firstly, he tells us, “we need influential people to tell their stories.” And, secondly, “we need leaders to invest in training everybody in mental health.”

Taking part, and being part of the solution

At Box Media, we believe we can be a part of this next step. The eradication of the stigma around mental health is starting to happen, and now we want to help people to know what to say; how to start those conversations; how to listen properly and speak kindly.

We’re ready to talk; now it’s time to figure out what to say.

Towards a future, With purpose

Towards a future, With purpose

Towards a future, with purpose

By Alex Hill for Box News

If the headlines and Twitter feeds of the world are getting you down at the moment, I have the perfect antidote: a trip to the website of our friends at Unreasonable Group. 

Fighting the good fight, and choosing the right allies

Unreasonable is a Venture Capitalist (VC) organisation. They only work with entrepreneurs who are, as they put it, ‘bending history in the right direction.’ Put another way; they work with people who are passionate about solving the world’s problems.

They work with folks like:

  • Jayaashree Industries, who have created the first low-cost machines to make sanitary pads in India
  • Embrace Innovations, whose infant warmers are estimated to have saved the lives of over 300,000 babies across 22 countries
  • Econic Technologies, whose catalyst technologies convert CO2 into materials for plastic production 

Businesses need to think differently

In the last ten years, Unreasonable realised something that the rest of the business world today is only just waking up to – business shouldn’t exist separately from the world’s social problems.

Business has both an opportunity and a duty to engage with problems like climate change and gender inequality to drive serious social impact.

If businesses don’t engage with social impact, they’ll find themselves in danger of being left behind by their customers. Many customers today, particularly Millenials, look to businesses that take on social responsibilities.

If you don’t like statistics then look away now

Deloitte’s Millenial Survey 2018 found that 40% of Millenials believe that the goal of business should be to ‘improve society’. 

Similarly, a 2015 Nielsen poll found that consumers are increasingly seeking out products that are clean and responsible. 66% of global consumers are willing to pay more for sustainable goods, and a full 73% of Millenials are.

Box Media is looking to the future, too

At Box Media, our drive is reskilling for purpose. We have set our sights on a future of human collaboration with machines (rather than a future of mass unemployment). 

We have an opportunity to work towards a future that we build on solving some of our most significant problems. To reach that preferred future, we know that our workforce will need to adapt and develop many new skills. 

This sense of purpose is what motivates us; it gets us out of bed and into the office every day. What is the social impact of your business? If you can’t come up with an answer, it might be time for a rethink.

 

 

The costs of re-skilling

The costs of re-skilling

Understanding the cost of re-skilling

By Alasdair Munn for Box News

We are entering the fourth industrial revolution. Adaptive processes, automation, machine learning and AI are fundamentally changing the nature of work. Much of the recent conversation is around the dual crisis of future skills gaps and the need to re-skill employees.

Change has to happen

Companies that resist change will be superseded by new entrants into the market, or by those companies that do change.

Disruptions in the job market means some jobs will be lost, or cease to exist, while these changes will also create new posts – some of which we haven’t even thought of yet. As with any change, or venture into the unknown, there is trepidation and uncertainty. Nevertheless, we also know that the way we work and consume today is unsustainable.

We have a responsibility to our people

Our workforces are facing a mental health crisis. We have an opportunity and a responsibility to manage these changes carefully.

As the repetitive tasks developed over the last 30 years are automated, we have the chance to give humans the chance to focus on ‘being human’.

‘Soft skills’ are now being rebranded as ‘crucial skills’. The saving grace for humans and the future of work is precisely what makes us different from robots—our humanity.

It is these skills that will improve our mental health at work. Skills like creativity, complex problem solving, empathy, judgement and cognitive flexibility are what sets us apart from machines. Moreover, a lack of these skills in the workplace can lead to increased stress, depression and poor mental health.

A world where man and machine work in harmony – but at what cost?

As we move towards a workplace that is increasingly more man plus machine, there is a mounting need to re-skill, up-skill and fill skills gaps. 

An interesting theme emerging amongst business leaders and educators include the questions:

  • Who is to bear the costs of this re-skilling? 
  • What is sustainable for an organisation? 
  • Is it the government? Is it the individual? 

A recent report from The World Economic Forum states:

 ‘Towards a Reskilling Revolution” found that 95% of the 1.4 million US workers who are expected to be displaced in the next decade can be transitioned to new positions with similar skills and higher wages. 

 But, the total cost of re-skilling all these workers is $34 billion – an average of $24,000 per displaced worker.

As a direct cost, this looks pretty daunting. But, we all know that education, re-skilling and up-skilling can’t be seen only in the context of the cost of training. 

There are other questions we need to answer. What is the cost to the company for not re-skilling? Productivity, employee welfare, workplace accidents, customer satisfaction, and competitive advantage can all be affected.

What is the cost to society when looking at the increased need for welfare, crime, family disruption, citizen unrest?

Asking the hard questions for a brighter future

The fundamental question we need to ask today is: ‘what is the future we want to live in and how do we get there?’

It’s a tough question for companies when they’re often under significant pressure from shareholders to make short-term gains and returns. The average lifespan of a Fortune 500 company has dropped from 58 years to just 18 years. Business is getting harder, but it’s this focus on short-term thinking that is contributing towards this shrinking lifespan.

Taking responsibility through new ways of learning

Responsibility for this learning inevitably lies in a combined and collaborative approach involving all stakeholders from corporations, governments, educational institutions, and innovate new methods.

The future is about connected ecosystems, collaboration and shared thinking.

It’s an exciting time to be asking these questions. Here at Box Media, we’ve been tackling these questions over the last two years.

We’re taking this opportunity to hack learning. We want to reimagine not only what we need to learn to remain relevant in a future workforce, but also how learning itself needs to change.

Workplace learning is seldom fit for purpose today, and it’s certainly not fit for purpose for tomorrow.

Finally, we have a convergence of need, technology, human understanding, data and content production. We are excited and determined to play our role in shaping a responsible and sustainable future.

We are excited and determined to play our role in shaping a responsible and sustainable future.