MANAGING ADULT EDUCATION




















WHAT IS LEARNING MANAGEMENT


Some people have a need to acquire new compet-encies.

 

New competencies are not injected into or crystal-lised inside people; they can only be acquired through a process of exposure: Learning.

 

Whenever there is an expectation regarding the efficiency or effectiveness of the learning activities, someone have to lay a hand on the process and lead the activities performed by either trainers or learners - or both.

 

If management is the process of securing that activities leads to a desired outcome, then Learning management is the process of selecting and gover-ning the activities leading to people getting the desired competencies.

 

To do this you must observe the Learning Acitivities you offer and determine:


  • What you want
  • What you are getting
  • What to change

 

To know what to change, you must understand how the relevant mechanisms works - in this case, how learning works.



WHAT IS LEARNING


If you wish to manage your process, you need to understand it.

 

Learning is the process that leads to acquisition of new competencies. It may be any activity, that has that desired outcome.


It can be an activity that is performed by the learner alone as well as being an activity that a learner do together with a trainer.

 

The process is sometimes referred to as training but it is a bit misleading.


Normally training is considered as an activity that facilitates learning, but since it carries no assurance of outcome, in a management context, it is only of interest in matters of resource allocation and not when managing Learning, particularly because though training may lead to learning, supprisingly often, it does not!


To ensure that learning becomes a managed process, we must focus on the impact the learning activities (the training) has on the learner. This distinction is what sets learning management apart from training management.

 

The competencies that may be achieved by learning, can be defined as the ability to recall a particular piece or set of information, that have been com-mitted to memory.

 

To commit something to memory requires a stimu-lation or creation of memory structure that strength-en particular patterns. By strengthening memory patterns they become contrasted compared to other information stored in the memory and are thereby easier to identify and recall.

 

This may be an oversimplification of what happens on a physiological level, but for the purpose of this presentation, it is only important  to know that struc-tures in the memory can be established and stre-ngthened, by stimulation.

 

If you want to control the efficiency or effectiveness of the learning process, you can now act to govern the process, since you know what is required to learn.



TYPES OF KNOWLEDGE

So, learning is the ability to commit information to memory.


The information we can learn is called knowledge.

 

Knowledge may be taxonomized in different ways, but in this concept, knowledge are dived into 3 types:


  • Information knowledge, simple facts, that stands alone.


  • Compound knowledge, information that is deducted from a collection of facts.


  • Action knowledge, information that relates to how a physical result is obtained.


 

Example of information knowledge could be the alphabet, words of a languages and their meaning, the multiplication tables and so on. This type of knowledge is learned simply by repetition. It may be difficult to put into context, but is easily structured.

 

Examples of compound knowledge could be the discipline of calculus which contains no elements from math not already covered by arithmetic or trigonometry, but that needs guidance to grasp the very particular approach required to understand the techniques used.


Typically the level of complexity in compound knowledge is not evident to the learner and therefore this type of knowledge needs guidance when learn-ing - what we perhaps normally refer to as: “it needs to be explained”.

 

Compound knowledge normally divides into know-ledge used for decision making (such as background knowledge) or knowledge used to produce infor-mation (such as calculations, causalitiy analysis).

 

Examples of action knowledge could be how to get a car moving from a stand still. This is often referred to as a skill, simply because it involves physical actions, however it may also be broken down into a collection of knowledge, about each process step required. It is important to recognise, that in a learning manage-ment context, there is no difference between learning a skill and learning other types of knowledge, since, action knowledge simply is a collection of information or compound knowledge, in a specific order.

 

If you are qualified to drive, you will probably agree that these informations are not recalled as a procedure, rather you have been exposed to them so many times that you no longer recall them as information, but rather as a decision to get the car moving.

 

Knowledge Examples

Learning is the act of preparing to be able to reproduce a given result. Either recalling knowledge in the form of facts or in the form of a skill - in such cases were the result requires physical interaction.

 

Ex 1.

Someone needs to learn the right of way on the road.


The person can read in a book, that a vehicle must let other vehicles coming from the right, pass, before entering a traffic stream.

 

This information may contain some data related to facts, such as “traffic coming from your right” and “give way”, but it also contains some form of context - “when you wish to enter a stream of traffic that are on a collision course with you”.


All of it is knowledge, since it is facts about rules of the road. Clearly this is not producing a physical result other than leading to correct behaviour when moving through traffic. This can therefore be characterised as data that is recalled for decision making. I call it information knowledge (not because it is used for decision making, but because it is simple information to be recalled).

 

Ex 2.

Consider advanced mathematics such as calculus or matrices. These operations may be considered, by many who have not had academic training in the natural sciences, to be rather complex levels of knowledge. Yet they are only constructs made up by the elemental operations of arithmetic and trigo-nometry.


Even so, you would agree that calculus is not something you can learn without assistance. You don’t need to learn something new, to understand calculus, but you need guidance (and maybe to refresh your math) to understand the very specific use of math, these operations require.


So the knowledge of calculus is then a compound of some basic information knowledge and knowledge about a specific use-strategy.

 

Ex 3.

How to start moving a car from a stand still (using manual clutch):


This can be characterised as skill, since the result is a physical manipulation (of a car). It contains the following knowledge and the order it is applied is the strategy:

 

  1. Depress the clutch pedal
  2. Use you left foot
  3. Use the upper part of the foot, just below the toes.
  4. Use sufficient force until it contacts the floor.
  5. Select frist gear, using your right hand.
  6. When the clutch pedal is depressed and first gear is selected, depress the accellerator approximately 1 cm.
  7. You should hear the engine RPM increase a little bit.
  8. Use your right foot.
  9. Use the upper part of the foot.
  10. Lift your left foot of the clutch rather slowly - perhaps 1 cm per second
  11. As soon as you hear the engine RPM drop, depress the accellerator an additional cm.
  12. The car should know start to move.
  13. As you release the clutch, the accelleration and engine RPM should increase.
  14. When the clutch is fully released, repeat the process, only select a higher gear.

 

We call this a skill because it is not normally perceived as a series of conscious decisions, but rather as a series of actions performed without thinking of each individual process segment, but as a result to be achieved.

 

Nonetheless, we all learned it step by step, until our memory structure was sufficiently stimulated for us to address the entire process rather than the individual segments of knowledge of actions.


You could therefore say that the aggregation of action knowledge into one process is what constitutes a skill, but you must remember that in a learning framework a skill is still a process that involves recalling knowledge from memory and is learned in by the same principles as information knowledge.

 

When managing learning, you should note, that knowledge may have different levels of complexity, wether it is action-knowledge, compound-knowledge or simple facts. But knowledge and skill are one and the same - a memory recall. It then follows that knowledge and skill are also learned in the same manner.

 

As you see from the examples, you are forced to fix the prerequisite for your grouping of knowledge. For some people, the elementary operations of arithme-tic may very well be compound knowledge. And for some people calculus may be information know-ledge. You should include this assessment during your course design or when evaluating the adequacy of your course.



HOW TO LEARN

Learning is achieved by strengthening patterns in the human memory structure so as the pattern appears contrasted by the person trying to recall the data. To strengthen these patterns they must be exercised to form.

 

There are a few principles to consider when preparing learning activities:

 

Exposure

If you want somebody to learn something, you must ensure that their memory structures are exposed to the knowledge you wish them to obtain. Since it is not possible for you to see the learners memory, you must simple expose him or her to the knowledge. Traditional classroom training exposes the learner only one time, perhaps two times if preparation is required. This may be sufficient if the purpose of learning is to be able to find the information in external sources, but is often inadequate exposure to recall information of even the lowest complexity and the learner should therefore have repeated exposure, commensurate with the detail required in the recall.

 

Strength.

The more a particular structure is exposed during the learning process, the stronger the memory structure becomes and the easier it is recalled. If the learning outcome is to be recalled quickly or to great detail, the established memory structures must be strong and the learning activities should support, that more exposure is required. This may be achieved by repetition, as is seen when practicing musical instru-ments, or it may be achieved by lateral exposure, by having a divers study of a subject, as is seen in eg. university studies.

 

Simplicity

The simpler a structure is, the easier it is to establish. Often the learning outcome in a course is not at all aligned with the discourse or purpose of the infor-mation resources - books, articles etc. Therefore only referring to these resources is not a good strategy because it does not present the learner with a simple concept, but instead forces the learner to extract a usable concept on his or her own.


This is not desirable from a management point of view, since you have less control over what is learned, and though it may be tempting to refer to reading material - since the learner herby requires no re-sources to learn - this gain is almost always in inverse proportions to the effort required to ensure the correct perception, later on.


Rather the learner should be led to or presented with a simple concept.

 

Association

If the memory structure being established, is forming part of existing structures, it becomes easier to establish. Whenever possible, exposure should seek to relate to common subjects already learned.

 

Coherence

If the learner is presented with a subject or group of subjects, that have some kind of coherence either to each other or their operational application, it is easy to commit the information to memory, since co-herence simplifies and supports internal association that strengthen the memory structures.

 

Lead the learner

If you present the subjects to the learner in the order they are relevant, you support coherence and simplicity as described above. You should to the greatest extend possible provide information knowledge - before introducing compound know-ledge or action knowledge - in order to let the learner keep his or her orientation and to make associations in the memory structure.

 

Finally you should let the importance of a subject show by the amount of exposure you present to the learner - important items should always appear more often, in presentations as well as in repetitions.

 

Provide a pleasant experience

Learning takes place inside the learner and it will only take place if the owner of the memory decides to commit something to memory. If the learner dislikes to partake in your planned learning activities, your management will fail. It is important to remember that the more the learner wants to learn, the more effective the activity will become. You may find scenarios where learners are pressured to learn and pressure will of cause have some effect in motivating the learner, but the effect of pressure, is minuscule compared with the effect of facilitated learning. Traditionally this is addressed by doctrines such that ergonomics and physiological needs must be ful-filled.


In order to facilitate learning, the learner must have a willing attitude for learning to occur. If the learner is hungry, tired or cold, it will disturb the learning process. But more importantly If the task is not adapted to the learners - ex. by being to hard, seemingly irrelevant or in other ways not tailored to the learning situation - the learner will inevitably dislike the situation and even though the person wishes to cooperate, learning is not facilitated.

 

Instead it is much more conductive to ensure that the learner have a feeling of adequacy throughout the activity, so a feeling of accomplishment, rather than struggle is obtained from the activity.

 

Autonomy

Since the learner is the person with the most accurate registry of his or her own memory, the learner is also the person best suited to tailor the learning activity in relation to that predisposition.

It may therefore be advantageous to let the learner have some control of the learning activity eg. to skip reading passages that the person already know, but also by making the learning activity into a task performed by the learner, rather than the trainer.



HOW IS LEARNING MANAGED

It is the learner that controls to what extend learning is taking place inside the learner. As managers we can only assess the effect that the learning activities have on the learners performance in a given area.

 

Learning is managed when the person in charge of the education is able to ascertain that the learning activity have had the desired effect. This requires that the manager have decided what the desired effect should be and test for its presence.

 

In principle it also requires that the manager knows the state of the learner prior to the activity. In most situations, it may be inferred that the learner does not have the required competencies prior to the course.

 

To manage the learning activities, it is also required that you are able to change the content, sequence, scope and method of the activities.

 

If you as a manager wish to have a measure of how efficient your activities are; or you wish to have a measure of how effective your activities are, then you want to have your test show degrees of presence of the learning effect. This will enable you to adjust your effort not to be excessive or not to be inadequate.

 

From this we can determine that the following are required:

 

  • Learning objectives
  • Learning strategies and methods
  • Learning performance evaluation



LEARNING OBJECTIVES

If you wish to manage learning, the first thing you need is to determine what you wish the learner to accomplish - what the objective of the learning activ-ity is.

 

Often others have determined the learning objective from some form of regulation. Standards that are external to you, are seldom very detailed which is why subject matter experts are involved in educations since they understand the underlying implication of a learning requirement.

 

If you are not a subject matter expert yourself, you need one to collaborate with and your task is together to dissect the requirements to your course outcome into the things you believe are the consti-tuent part of the competence your learning activities should lead to - considering what you now know about learning.

 

  • Is it something one must do?


if so, it is action knowledge and the learning objec-tives are the process steps included in the skill.

 

  • Is it something one must know?


If so the learning objective may be information know-ledge or it may be compound knowledge in which case you must dissect it into its parts.


  • How is the applicant expected to do it?


  • Is the learner supposed to be able to look up information?


  • Is the learner supposed to recall - recite infor-mation?


  • Is the learner supposed to show, demonstrate or use?


Whenever you encounter a learning objective that you expect people to already know, remember to take note of this and let involved parties know that this is an entry requirement. Your course will most certainly require unplanned resources if you allow learners to part-take without honoring the design criteria - see later; the work of others.



LEARNING STRATEGIES

Learning Strategies are the methods you choose to expose the memory of the learners to the things you have compiled to constitute the desired competence.


The learning strategies are executed through the chosen learning activities.

 

People are pre-programmed to learn by different methods that you can choose from. Each have advan-tages and disadvantages:



Transmission:  

When one person learns from another person showing – you could say, transmitted from one to the other. This is what we traditionally call teaching. 

Adv: Efficient, requires few management controls.

Dis: Resource intensive, have few management controls.


Acquisition

When a person learns something, by him/her self – you could say knowledge is acquired by that person (alone), from, for instance, researching a topic through books or the internet.

Adv: Efficient, requires few resources to execute

Dis: Requires many resources to orchestrate


Accretion

When a person learns through exposure to patterns – you could say that knowledge adds up over time, from, for instance learning a language by interacting with native speakers, over time.

Adv: Autonomous, requires no orchestration.

Dis: Ineffective. have very few management controls.


Emergence

When a person learns from reflection and experience. You could say that knowledge is emerging from continuous striving to solve a particular problem, for instance, Newton came up with the calculus, from a need to determine the orbits of planets.

Adv: Efficient.

Dis: Requires orchestration or a lot of autonomous exposure.

 

Credit Prof. Leslie Owen Wilson, Uni.Wisconsin for this model

 

In most course designs you will probably select a strategy that is centered around the Transmission method with regards to learning how to do something; And the Acquisition method with regards to learning about something. But you may also benefit from the other methods if considering the effects of organizational culture or other long term effects.



LEARNING METHODS

You should select strategies and activities with reference to what kind of knowledge you intend to expose to the learner and with reference to the extend of accuracy or complexity you wish the competency learned.

 

Information knowledge

If your learning objective constitutes information knowledge you should always let the learner acquire the knowledge on his or her own; And to the greatest extent by supplying reading material or reference.

 

It is a waste of time to include reading as a learning activity in course-time, whether online or in the class-room. It is far easier for the learner to take in infor-mation by controlling the pace them selves.

 

The management task is to orchestrate; by selecting appropriate reading material and sequencing it in the appropriate order, which will supply structure.

 

Additionally, the orchestration may include, chal-lenges in the form of tests, that function to supply emphasis and structure through repetition.

 

The challenges may also supply coherence and form compound-knowledge in less complex areas.

 

Compound knowledge

Compound knowledge requires more learning lead-ership.

 

Learning activities can be such as sequencing infor-mation knowledge in such a way that the presented sequence becomes the structure of the compound knowledge.

 

When using autonomous strategies, you should make certain that the learner arrives at a conclusion fx. by asking the appropriate questions or by lining it out the points to be made fx by arranging challenges in the form of tests.

 

Learning activities that aim at compound knowledge are often suitable for classroom or group activities, since they may require a subject matter expert to explain the structure.

 

If the learning objective contains compound know-ledge, it is essential that you orchestrate that the required information knowledge is obtained prior to the learning activity.

 

Action Knowledge

Learning action knowledge is a two-step process. First, you must learn each process step and then you must make the learner repeat them to the extent needed to reach the required proficiency.

 

It may be important that you monitor the repetition to some extent since negative learning is often introduced if the learner inadvertently misunder-stands some of the process steps.

 

Presentations

Today presentation in the form of PowerPoint-type slideshows is omnipresent, both in the classroom, on eLearning platforms and here on YouTube.

 

Though on-screen presentations may have many merits, you should remember that the presentation is never a learning activity; presentations are only a visual aid - whether they are part of a classroom course or an e-learning course. It is the presenter that is the learning activity and the presentation should be designed with the transmittal strategy in mind - NOT the acquisition strategy. Your presentation should not be a reading experience for the learner.



NEGATIVE LEARNING

Normally people are critical thinkers, meaning that they assess their surroundings and only gather experience after sorting new knowledge according to internal criteria. When you bring people in a learning situation, people tend to be less critical with what they adapt as new knowledge - mostly because they trust the leader of the learning activity. In other words, learners I vulnerable, and you should, therefore, be equally meticulous in what you present to them. If you show them something that is not correct or only partly correct, they will take it to heart regardless. This is negative learning since they are now less competent than before they met you.

 

The power of three

Normally you need to present a piece of knowledge to people 3 times, in order for them to recognize that it is important. The first time you mention a fact, nobody will notice that it is important. The second time you mention the same fact, people will start to take notice, since they recognize that something has been repeated. If you mention the fact once more, they will recognize what you say and have thereby made the first recall from memory of that fact.

 

The power of five

If you wish to negate a fact that people have learned, you must expose the contradicting fact to such a degree that the correct version is exposed more than the incorrect version. This means that if you used the power of three to introduce the fact, your correction should then be repeated to such an extent that the memory of the learner is exposed to the new version so much more than the new exposure overwhelms the previous. If a correction is exposed to the same extent as the incorrect version, they appear equally important. Instead, the correct version should be exposed to such a degree that it clearly appears as more important than the incorrect versions - If the incorrect fact is exposed 3 times, the corrected fact should be exposed 2/3 as much, meaning 3 times to negate, plus additional 2 times for emphasis.

 

Negative learning is expensive.



PERFORMANCE EVALUATION

To determine whether or not the learning objective has been redeemed, you must determine the criterion for success. How quickly must a piece of information be recalled? to how great detail? When will learners have the required level of the action level knowledge?

 

Representative sampling or full coverage?

If you wish to optimize your course design, you should test each of the course processes for effectiveness and efficiency.

 

Effectiveness is a measure of how well the learner has acquired the desired competence. Your course may provide each learner with an excellent level of proficiency but that may very well not be necessary to achieve end-user satisfaction and you may, therefore, desire to have controls that enable you to adjust the effectiveness of your course; The first fo which is the ability to determine the actual perfor-mance the learners have after completion of the course, compared to the required level of perfor-mance.

 

Efficiency is a measure of how much resources each learning activity requires. You may find that your course is providing the desired level of effectiveness, but that learning activities can be refined to achieve the same result for less effort or that your course is not supplying the desired level of performance unless you provide additional resources.

 

To obtain the information required to determine E/E, you should make a map of all processes in your course and how they relate.  You should then monitor the resources spent on each process and monitor their learning outcome.

 

Often sampling of performance is preferred, rather than testing each and every learning objective for each and every learner.

 

Typical methods to monitor performance are either witnessing the performance of the learner or some kind of documentation, typically by some form of test.


Each method has advantages and disadvantages basically in that they either require a lot of orches-tration, are hard to control.

 

Evidently witnessing a performance, require that someone appears and monitors each learner's perfor-mance.

 

The advantage of using a witness is that it may require little orchestration if the witness is a subject matter expert. Disadvantages may be that it can be difficult to standardize measured performance and that it requires resource in each learner instance.

 

Advantages of using written tests are that they are easy to standardize and that you can measure the performance of many learners with little effort. Disadvantages to written test are that they the more detail you wish the test to reveal, the more orchestration they require.

 

Leading or Lagging Performance measurement.

Traditionally performance measurement of education is almost always done by requiring that the learner pass an exam at the end of the course, as proof that the learner has acquired the competencies the course is designed to provide. This method only provides value to external parties, since it tells you almost nothing about how your course design performed - in effect the learner may actually have acquired the competencies despite your course - you don’t know.

 

Measuring the outcome after a process or a collection of processes are completed, is referred to as lagging performance measurement. You may say that the result is measured down stream.


Some courses, people may only partake in, if they already have a given set of competencies. Eg. you may only enter university courses if you posses a sufficient level of knowledge from high school. This is done in recognition that the learning process will not be successful if the process input is insufficient.

 

Determining a process outcome by the quality of its input is referred to as leading performance measure-ment. You may say that the end result is determined by a measurement taken upstream.

 

You can use leading performance measurement in your course design - mainly to measure and control your course efficiency since you can make adjust-ments while verifying the quality of the end result.

 

You can use lagging performance measurement in your course design mainly to measure and control your course effectiveness, mainly as quality assurance for your processes.

 

Despite the simple division of leading and lagging performance measurements, once you have a lot of data to support your learning processes, you may find that course outcome can be determined solely by leading measurements, such as is seen in eg. some competency- and evidence-based training schemes for pilot training.



HOW TO MAKE A PRESENTATION

Make presentations that respect the following rules:

 

Rule 1

The presenter is the presentation. The powerPoint or online graphic - is a visual aid. If you use the presen-tations as your script, you are not needed - the lear-ners can read it themselves and will most likely be annoyed with your performance and stop paying attention.

 

Rule 2

Presentations should not present facts in the form of text. Text should only be introduced as headlines or bullet points, not as sentences. If you want learners to read something – let them do it by them selves, in advance. One acceptable exception from this rule is, if a text is an object in the training, rather than being the content - fx examining the wording of a rule, to elaborate on implications.

 

Rule 3

Presentations are a graphic aid. Use pictures or illustrations to support your message. If using text, use it only to create structure and make the learner able to navigate in your presentation by using colors and font sizes to emphasize the points you are making, essentially turning the text into a graphic.

 

Rule 4

When using graphics, make sure your presentation contains “a style”. That is; some convention that aids the learner in navigating in your message. If you constantly change font type/size/color, you signal incoherence. If you, on the other hand, use capital letters for headlines and bold letters for bullets points, it is easier to identify your logic and your message becomes clearer.

 

Rule 5

One slide should only contain one topic. When changing the topic, change the slide. If a topic is presented over several slides, make a visual indication that a slide change is not changing the topic.

 

Rule 6 

Don't make your presentation for the average parti-cipant. Make your presentation for the dumbest participant you can imaging. Not because that person will be there, but because no person will give you 100% of their attention 100% of the time.


Rule 7

These limitations apply to your presentation, no mat-ter how interesting you may be. The less you adhere to the rules, the less the learner will pick up.



GET LEARNERS TO TAKE PART

This is the skill of making the learner be an active part in the training offered, rather than just a listener. It is far the most effective method to achieve learning for adult persons.


If you present people with a learning activity they are not liking - they will not learn. If they don't like you they will not learn.

 

Rule 1

Arrange your presentation so that it presents the topic by a method and make the method evident. Eg. What, Why, and How methodology, will give the learner the impression that you have given thought to your topic and it becomes interesting.


This will establish you as the trainer and give the learner faith in your training. If the learner does not believe that the trainer is able to facilitate the learning, the learner will not be an active partner in the process.


We know this to be true, by observing disgruntled kids, parents, or partners, when they are listening to your feeble excuses.

 

Rule 2

Arrange your training to consist of facts leading to conclusions – learners will remember causalities much easier than individual facts and your presentation will appear to have tailored progression.

 

Rule 3

It is easier for the learner to engage in your training if they are able to see what you are aiming for. Unless you are actually presenting arbitrary data, there is always at least one logic to be found in any topic.


Once a learner discovers that you offer a logic, the will be increasingly motivated to take part in your training.

 

Rule 4

You are seldom very entertaining. Generally, people will stop paying attention to you after 15 minutes.


Therefore, for traditional classroom training, break up presentations by giving learners tasks such as quest-ionnaires or fact-finding missions, every 15 minutes.

 

Rule 5 

When skill training, you should ensure that learners are having a positive experience. When we experi-ence failure, we have a natural tendency to conclude that the method is wrong and the exposure is censored from longterm storage. This is why we need coaching.


Break up monotonous sessions by introducing repe-tition with an increasing independence demand.

Make sure that the learner is adequately challenged. Make sure that the learner is not challenged beyond capability. Make sure that the learner has the correct understanding of what performance level is reached. Most people are unhappy with their intermediate results and some genuine cheering will lift their spirits.


Rule 6

Arrange your training so as conclusions are made by learners in answer to your questions. This will give the learner the opportunity to review the facts you have presented and be an active partner in the training process.


The more you apply this method, the longer period of focus you may expect from the learner (beyond the 15 minutes limit). This method is sometimes referred to as “aided discovery”.


Rule 7

Provided that the learner honor any agreement regarding seeking knowledge or practicing skill inde-pendently, sub-standard performance is never the fault of the learner, but always due to poor learning management.



THE WORK OF OTHERS

The observation

When following a class on quantum mechanics on YouTube (Geeks lesson), the concept of complex numbers and methods to manipulate those arithmetically is a prerequisite.


This means that learners need to be proficient in dealing with complex numbers in order to under-stand the presentation on quantum mechanics.

 

However, nobody has the required proficiency in complex numbers and are thus not able to focus on the message conveyed, but distracted from it, despite the good intention. In recognition of this, as part of the Quantum Mechanics course, a brief repetition of complex numbers is included.


The theory of complex numbers is not as difficult as one should think but it requires some basic arith-metic proficiency to follow the repetition.


When executing a course in complex numbers, the learning manager then shows a multitude of ways complex numbers can be manipulated to form arithmetic rules and in doing so, draws upon many rules from arithmetic learned in grade school. This means that learners must be proficient in arithmetic in order to understand complex numbers.


However nobody remembers those rules and the understanding of complex numbers, subsequently, quantum mechanics is now impeded by the lack of proficiency in arithmetic learned in grade school.


This is not the fault of the learner, but rather poor learning management. Rather than making a brief recap on complex numbers, the learning manager should ensure adequate proficiency, before proce-eding with the course.


The Analysis

Back in grade school, you were taught the rules of arithmetics but why are you not remembering them? Most likely because of the method used to make you learn them.

 

I was presented with them by the teacher explaining them on the blackboard to a class of 25 students. Since it was a class of 25 learners, the teacher did not care to ensure that each student was understanding the explanation. Instead, we were presented with a lot of problems to solve, which was designed to record our understanding rather than support it and used to give us the opportunity for repetition.


You may say that some kids were dumb and did not understand math, but you may also say that the learning manager did not facilitate the individual learners' needs and did not create the foundation for future learning.

 

Maybe you are actually proficient in arithmetic and maybe your grade school teacher was actually en-suring your foundation or you are a bright person, but this is a very common situation in learning.


The Problem

We know that learning requires leading and repe-tition. Regarding arithmetic, the teacher would lead the class in presenting an explanation in the class room. Repetition would then ensue by solving a series of routine arithmetic problems - assuming that everyone understood the explanation.

 

Those who did not understand the explanation were instead offered to ask for help solving the problems used for repetition. So the learner has now become the troubleshooter of the inadequacy in the leadership of the learning manager, a task for which the learner is often ill-suited.

 

The Take-away

This is not managed learning and the reason that teachers are leaving large portions of their classes behind is either that they are not imagining the amount of trivial repetition required to have someone learn, or that they are not able to allocate the necessary resources for it - the time.

 

What you consider to be self-evident may not at all be self-evident for the learner and you must, therefore, introduce trivial repetition whenever a critical piece of knowledge is presented or a critical correlation of compound knowledge is shown. This will not only ensure that you get through to the learner but the repetition will also signal to the learner that something important is being handled.

 

You may set up prerequisites for you course but consider if you can accept to allow learners to participate though they are not honoring your pre-requisites?

 

There is no way around that you must ensure that each learner has understood your message. You can leave the repetition to the learner, but then you cannot build on it until the learner have had the time to put in the work and you must also supply direction with the how work to ensure that it is executed correctly.



eLearning

Most eLearning you find on the internet consists of scripted powerpoint presentations. But is this really any different from class room training?

 

In some ways the common examples of “internet learning” have even lower learning quality than class room training, comparable to a lecturer that do not take questions.

 

What virtually every internet-learning I have come across are missing is that the presentation, just as in a class room setting, is not the central part of learning but merely a resource in the learning activity.

 

If you present someone with a book do not claim that they have learned anything - even though they might have read the book. The book is also only a resource in a learning activity.

 

There is more to learning than presenting facts. Only when the learner are able to reproduce the facts (or result) have learning been taking place.

 

To migrate your internet learning into elearning, you should include more than knowledge resources - it needs learning activities.



Take me up