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Learning at the Great Oasis

By Jim Naughton, ILG Contributor

Relevant, Meaningful Content Creates Great Learning Experiences

According to a Gallup Global Emotions survey, people are experiencing a record amount of stress in their lives with 40 percent saying that they experience stress during most of their day. You can say that it’s because of the pandemic or that it’s the result of social polarization, but the most overarching feeling is that many people seem to be on the edge. Where can you go to get away from it all?

A Learning Oasis

To the extent possible, time spent learning should be an oasis for employees to immerse themselves in an environment that reduces stress and helps focus their energy. Some companies have successfully carved out time for employees to step away from the constant demands of the workplace. Other companies acknowledge the likelihood of disruptions during the learning moment, and engineer material to make it easier for employees to reconnect and continue when the dust settles. Decisions about the length of material (such as microlearning) and how it’s presented can have a big impact on the learner’s actual experience.

Get Ready to Enjoy It

I’m a big believer in the idea that people learn nearly zero unless they’re ready to learn. I’ve seen it play out throughout my career in dozens of organizations. When employees question the value of spending their time learning, they hit the ‘shut down’ button. They need to believe that what’s being offered is more valuable to them than accomplishing some other task.

Part of one’s readiness is related to the content… do you want to learn something that you don’t already know?

The other part is related to the experience… do you want to learn it while engaged in a comfortable setting with a compelling resource?

Most people naturally want to enjoy their time learning. (By the way, one of the Gallup Positive Experience Index questions is: Did you learn or do something interesting yesterday?)

Of course, you would more likely be ready and willing to learn when there’s relevant, meaningful content paired with a pleasant, stimulating experience. Put another way — the most important and well-organized content still misses the mark if it’s delivered while you’re in a stressful, noisy, uncomfortable environment.

Can’t Stop the Feeling

I’m also a big believer in results. But when it comes to the learner experience, I’m with Justin Timberlake… I “can’t stop the feeling” (also known as the affective domain of learning)! The learning community can do a lot to make sure learners come away with a good feeling about their learning. That feeling starts when we’re working collaboratively to create the curriculum and materials for people to enjoy. A sense of curiosity and excitement can permeate throughout the project team and then flow into the end product, eventually to be consumed by thousands of people who are eagerly awaiting the knowledge we’re about to share.

The Magic

The grand maestro Walt Disney once said, “There is no magic in magic. It’s all in the details.” This brings us full circle back to our core: a lot of planning and execution goes into building a great learning experience for people. There’s no substitute for the sweat and determination of a multi-talented team that can create a positive experience for others. Even miracles take a little time.

Jim Naughton is a freelance senior performance consultant. He has more than 40 years of experience in the training and performance improvement industry. Jim was on staff at Innovative Learning Group from 2018 to 2023.

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