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India Summit 2018: Creating a Culture of Learning and Innovation

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Don’t just tell me; take me into the content and help me experience it!

To learn new content and skills in the classroom and ultimately change behavior, our brain requires multisensory experiences. Those experiences help people connect to our content in new ways and create context so the learning becomes easy.

The learner of the future will demand this. If we don’t give it to them, they will disengage. If we don’t offer it in the first 10 minutes of our training, they will dismiss our relevance. Time is precious, and our learning cultures demand employees spend less of it in the classroom.

The “talking head” has its place, but only briefly, such as a 45-second video sent ahead of an event to introduce yourself and your style. For a deeper dive, offer a lecture, perhaps in a whitepaper or online. However, when you are live with a group, help participants create learning by providing experiences.

Online learning can set parameters and deliver content; live learning is where context happens. When we are face-to-face, we can creatively fashion the content and make it relevant to each participant. No deep learning takes place if we teach face-to-face in essentially the same manner as what participants receive online.

Here are some considerations to keep in mind.

Expand the Direction of the Conversation

A lecture is a one-way conversation. You may sprinkle in a few “How many of you” questions, but that is not interaction. The group is just answering a question that you are posing; the attention is still focused on you.

A two-way conversation happens when you as the facilitator create an opportunity for dialogue. You can break the audience out into small groups or partners and have them share with each other, reporting back to the larger group. This works on many levels, and is best utilized for longer formats and multi-day programs where participants need to process information and collaborate to produce useful results.


Consider another direction: We will call this a 360-degree conversation. This conversation happens all around you and immerses participants in the learning process. They actually experience what you are teaching them. This approach can be successful with a small group brought to the front of the room. Although those volunteers share the experience firsthand, everyone in the room experiences the process vicariously.

Another method is to literally immerse everyone in the room into the experience. A two-dimensional way to do this is with video, but there must be screens around the room. We can also create an environment that surrounds participants with a scenario or a problem to solve (using music, lighting, and such), then set them to work on solving it.

Three-dimensional approaches are coming, with apps for our mobile devices. By the time you come to the ATD 2018 Korea Summit, this technology will, in all likelihood, be accessible.

Relevance Makes It Real

There are many things to preoccupy us these days. We all know the way to kick off adult learning is to break participants’ preoccupation, immerse them in content, and give them a chance to network; our colleague Bob Pike gave us this insight years ago. But are we employing these principles only when we open our training? I’d suggest that we need to break preoccupation often, giving our participants the unexpected and unpredictable throughout the program.

The key is relevance. Making our content relevant to our learners enables them to immediately integrate it into the workplace. They can then get excited about learning and help the organization create the learning culture for which you are striving.

My goal at the 2018 India Summit is to have the audience explore as many ways as possible to engage the brain in learning in a short period of time. These experiences can be adapted to the content you are delivering. You will be able to implement most of them in your training programs right away. You will receive how-to explanations to get familiar with the steps that make each experience work. We will use technology for a few of our experiences together, so bring your small devices.

Creating a learning culture is not an accident. Everything we do in the classroom and online needs to create enthusiasm for learning and encourage participants to want more. Let’s learn together at the summit! I look forward to meeting each of you and helping you on your journey to a learning culture.

Want to Learn More?

This year’s India Summit will focus on how organizations and talent development professionals can build a culture of learning and innovation to drive business results. You will hear from award–winning global and Indian companies to learn the best practices for how they’ve successfully built a culture of learning and innovation. Join me in Mumbia on September 18, or Bangalore on September 20.

About the Author
Christie Ward is principal of The Impact Institute. In the 1990s, Christie Ward coached and managed more than 200 of the best professional trainers around the world for CareerTrack. As principal of the Impact Institute, she has delivered programs globally; she coached the world champion of public speaking in 2000. Christie’s clients span government, private and public sector, and nonprofit arenas: the U.S. Air Force, Department of the Interior, and U.S. National Business Center; DISH Network, IHS, TriZetto, Johnson & Johnson, SUN, TW Telecom, and AT&T; Goodwill, the Boettcher Foundation, and the U.S. Olympic Committee. Christie is a former national board member for ATD, serving from 2011 to 2012. She is a past president of the National Speakers Association of Colorado and the Rocky Mountain Chapter of ATD. Christie has been a presenter at the ATD International Conference & Exposition as recently as 2014.
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