Tuesday, April 3, 2018

3 Ways to Learn Better in the Modern Era - Tip #175

We’re living in the sci-fi of yesteryears, where robots do the work that humans did. For instance, there’s a 3-foot-tall robot named Elvis at the Renaissance Hotel in Las Vegas. Elvis brings a toothbrush or toothpaste, an extra towel, or a newspaper to hotel guests.

While Elvis hasn’t relieved any hotel staff, the idea of AI (artificial intelligence) replacing humans at their jobs is a valid concern among employees. And, it isn’t a far-fetched reality: A University of Redlands Institute for Spatial Economic Analysis (ISEA) study states that 65% of jobs in Las Vegas could be automated in the next one to two decades.

However, rather than worrying, I advise workers and training professionals to focus instead on the opportunity to re-train and acquire skills that machines can’t handle, e.g., jobs that require creativity, social skills, and physical dexterity and mobility. Here are my thoughts on how adult learners can learn and thrive better in a fast-paced workplace.

Experience Sharing and Expertise

Microlearning’s idea of expertise is “what we know and can do now” and it essentially requires workers and learners to continually contribute and test their knowledge against the uncertainties and unknowns in work situations (Contributor-Expert model). 

This entails a shift from skills thinking to capabilities thinking. Whereas “skills are bounded within a specific context” (what),  capabilities is about “learning the context” (why). Capabilities are “curiosity, imagination, critical thinking, and social and emotional intelligence.” Through capabilities thinking, workers and learners can find the right knowledge and use the appropriate skills to address issues, thus enabling them to learn quickly and more effectively cope with the demands of work.


Because workers aim to fix, solve and improve work issues, work then is a diagnostic process.

The Diagnostic Process is where experience sharing and expertise are not only essential but already a natural way of learning and fixing, solving and improving work.

This kind of “social reflection” becomes crucial to ever-evolving work situations. While in social reflection mode, the desire to fix a problem is a key motivation and learners are mentally open for answers. It is in this mode of reflection that a learner is predisposed to learning and ready to take actions which leads to faster decisions.

Furthermore, Harold Jarche believes learners must be adept at their own learning. Training as we know today will cease to be the effective way to confront uncertainties in the faster and more complex world.

For microlearning to make an impact, we have to address the demands of the real world rather than focusing on the static mode of recreated worlds.


One way to help workers find fast answers and solutions is through the use of micro-questions in the content and solutions.
Target Question directs learners toward the result: What do I want to change, fix, or improve? What’s the expected/desired outcome?
Recall Question aids in remembering experiences, making decisions and taking actions: “What do I know about this? How should I proceed?”
Feedback Question allows for pause and reflection: “How do I know the solution works?”
In addition to uncovering both benefits and negative consequences, micro-questions help learners “think it through.” By “thinking through,” learners find the answers and solutions they need. For trainers and designers, asking and answering micro-questions will help make it easier to write content for micro-actions.

The Ultimate Survival Tool

There’s only one way to survive in the modern workplace brought about by the “new Industrial Revolution”. That is to learn how to learn. “Learning to learn” is “one of the most important talents of the modern era, the skill that precedes all other skills,” says Ulrich Boser, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and author of “Learn Better.”


Tekla S. Perry. CES 2018: Delivery Robots are Full-Time Employees at a Las Vegas Hotel. IEEE Spectrum, Jan. 12, 2018
Jess Chen. Future job automation to hit hardest in low wage metropolitan areas like Las Vegas, Orlando and Riverside-San Bernardino. ISEA Publish, May 3, 2017
Erik Brynjolfsson & Andrew McAfee. Brynjolfsson and McAfee: The jobs that AI can't replace. BBC, Sept. 13, 2015
John Hagel III and John Seely Brown. Help Employees Create Knowledge — Not Just Share It. Harvard Business Review, Aug. 15, 2017
Anne Murphy Paul. Discovering Better Ways to Learn as an Adult. KQED News, Aug. 9, 2017
Harold Jarche. The uncertain future of training. May 8, 2017
Tip #93 - Expertise: Why The Odds are Stacked Against Novices
Tip #142 - Why a Reflection Pause is Critical to Performance
Tip #165 - Why Avoid Comparing Microlearning with Instructional Design

Ray Jimenez, PhD
Vignettes Learning
"Helping Learners Learn Their Way"

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