Accelerated Learning: Q&A With Gail Heidenhain

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

In this Q&A podcast, I speak with Gail Heidenhain, who facilitates ATD’s Accelerated Learning Certificate program. Gail is president of Delphin and board chair of the International Association for Accelerated Learning Practitioners (IAALP), the professional organization for accelerated learning. She has been consulting with organizations around the world to design and implement strategies that enhance and accelerate the learning process.

I spoke with Gail about the process of accelerated learning and how to get started. First, I asked her to address a basic question: What is accelerated learning? 

Gail was quick to clarify that accelerated learning is not about speeding up delivery of learning, such as moving learning experiences online. Instead, accelerated learning focuses on “accelerating the development of expertise.”  She explained that this requires an integrated approach and draws on interdisciplinary research. 


For example, accelerated learning not only employs best practices from instructional design, but also examines such factors as change management, because “learning is always change.” The result of this approach is a roadmap that can help instructional designers, facilitators, online trainers, and so on create learning that will help workers decrease the amount of time it takes to have an impact on the job. 

Next, Gail and I discussed when accelerated is most useful. Not surprising, the obvious example is Baby Boomers exiting the workforce. As we all know, just because Boomers are leaving, the skill level of many younger workers may not be at a level where they are prepared to be accountable for meeting organizational goals. This can be task- or industry-specific skills such as working in a refinery, or general management skills like critical thinking. 

In such instances, Gail explained that the integrated approach of accelerated learning brings the “reality of the workplace” and “builds capacity” into actual training. For it to work, though, managers, HR, subject matter experts, and so forth must all be involved in the development of learning, not just the instructional designers. But filtering communication between these various resources can be tricky.    

Listen to the podcast to learn how your team can address communication and other issues that impact the accelerated learning process. In addition, you can join Gail for an upcoming Accelerated Learning Certificate program.   

About the Author

Amanda Smith is the Learning & Development Community of Practice manager at the Association for Talent Development (ATD). Her specialties include educational planning, PR/marketing, and project management. Amanda has more than 12 years of experience in the non-profit sector, developing and marketing professional development programs for the adult learner.

Amanda brings a diverse and unique perspective on program development. She has worked for companies in healthcare, foodservice, commercial real-estate, and media industries, including the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA), American Society of Consultant Pharmacists (ASCP), International Foodservice Distributors Association (IFDA), Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA), and the National Association of Broadcasters Education Foundation (NABEF). 

She also serves as president and spokesperson for the Alliance for Women in Media, National Capital Area Chapter (AWM-NCAC) in Washington, D.C.  She resides in the D.C. Metro area with her husband and two children.

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