Re-learning how to learn

Re-learning how to learn

Advances in digital technology have led to increased use of digital devices to record data and information.  During training courses (and other meetings) many people spend a significant amount of time typing what they hear into their phones, laptops and tablets.

Digital amnesia

But Hembrooke and Gay (2003) found that students who were allowed to use digital devices during class performed worse on a memory test.

Wimber (2015) explains that “there is a risk that the constant recording of information on digital devices makes us less likely to commit this information to long-term memory, and might even distract us from properly encoding an event as it happens.”

I have experienced this myself during a training course, as delegates were frantically typing in my words.  Then, when I asked a question…silence!  They all looked up; waiting for me to resume the flow of data and information.  I asked the question again and when they realised I was asking them to think, they had to re-read their notes to find out what we were ‘discussing’.

Losing the art of communicating and learning

Many people are prepared to sacrifice active listening for the ease of typing a quick, real-time record of a meeting or presentation, and nearly half (46%) believe that factual accuracy of typed and stored notes is more important than the nuance of conversation. (Kaspersky Lab 2015)

While people may believe that they can type and listen properly at the same time, scientific evidence shows they can’t.  When people think they’re multitasking, they’re actually just switching from one task to another very quickly.  Our brains actually slow down when multitasking because the stress hormone cortisol is released each time our brain shifts attention from task to task.  Wilson (2005) found that as well as slowing us down, multitasking can reduce our IQ by as much as missing a nights’ sleep or smoking marijuana.

Knowledge acquisition versus learning

Learning to be a better manager, communicator, negotiator, etc. does not depend on the gaining and recording of data and information.  That’s only the starting point.  The real learning comes from exploring, debating and developing ideas.  From thinking about how to apply knowledge.  From practising the application of skills and receiving feedback.

If only we had some way to really focus people on learning.  To remove distractions.  To allow people to come together to share knowledge and develop skills.  To explore their strengths and skills gaps.  To give them time to learn from each other.  To practise developing their own skills and to receive feedback.

Well I’m going to invent something to do just that.  I’m going to call it a ‘training course’.

Let’s spend the time on training courses developing real skills, and leave the imparting of information to Google.

PMSL develops real skills using evidence-based techniques.


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