Learning – The Concept

Learning – The Concept

Before we start on our design journey we should perhaps clarify what we mean by ‘learning’ and ‘training’. A pure definition of ‘learning’ could be: ‘Learning is a process that enables someone to acquire new attitudes, skills or knowledge.’
To justify all the direct costs in providing learning opportunities, not to mention the lost revenue-earning time, a business must be able to see a direct benefit resulting from any learning its staff experience. So, for learning taking place in a commercial or business setting, we should perhaps expand the definition of learning to: ‘Learning is a process that enables someone to acquire new attitudes, skills or knowledge. . . so that they can do something they couldn’t do before, or do it more effectively.’
When we consider someone being able to work more effectively the four main parameters usually considered are:

  1. Quality – deliver new levels of quality.
  2. Quantity – process or handle more orders or items.
  3. Cost – do more for the same cost, or the same output for less cost.
  4. Time – take less time in basic handling, or work to earlier deadlines.

It’s being able to apply the learning to make a difference to performance which differentiates learning in the commercial sense from pure education.
At least one of the items you’ve written will describe the trainer. You may have used words like:

  • knowledgeable;
  • organized;
  • inspirational;
  • focused;
  • approachable.

The list could go on and on. We all recognize the importance of a good trainer or teacher to make any subject come alive. But the focus of this book is not on the trainer but on the design of the training, so let’s look at some of the other items you’ve written. Your list may include:

  • well structured;
  • varied training methods;
  • logical flow;
  • appropriate models or concepts used;
  • ideas I can take back and use straight away;
  • appropriate balance of theory and practice;
  • good handouts, visual aids or workbooks.

This list, which could also go on and on, clearly shows the benefits of good design. Given a well-designed course even an average trainer can deliver an acceptable learning experience. But if you start with a poorly designed course you need an exceptional trainer to turn it into anything worthwhile. It’s rather like the old saying: you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear – unless you are exceptional!


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