The world is constantly changing. New technologies, innovations, practices, government policies and industry regulated requirements are constantly being introduced. This in turn requires organizations and their workforce to be continually learning, acquiring new knowledge and skills in order to stay current, optimize performance and remain competitive.
There is considerable difference between just making learning resources accessible and designing learning strategies and activities that require learners to be actively participating in the learning process. Learning begins with active participation. It requires effective learning solutions.
There is no one-size fits all learning solution and no one learning theory that stands out above other learning theories. Regardless of the differences in the various learning theories such as behaviorism, cognitive information processing (CIP), and constructivism, all of which form and contribute to the foundations of learning today, “most learning theories share common instructional principles that are predicted to enhance learning from instruction. These principles are:
- learners progress through stages/phases of learning,
- learning material should be organized and presented in small steps
- learners require practice, feedback, and review,
- social models facilitate learning and motivation, and
- motivational and contextual factors influence learning” (Schunk, 2012, p. 19).
Designing instructional strategies and activities that use a blended model of synchronous and asynchronous activities such as face-to-face classroom, face-to-face field, traditional print-based, computer mediated and repositories of digital assets generally yields better learning results. Table 2.0 lists some learning activities.
The following describes SMT’s approach to designing instructionally sound learning strategies and activities.
- Determine what knowledge must be transferred to learners in order for them to perform the tasks associated with their role? SMT Plus uses a specific knowledge capture process for this stage of development.
- Use the knowledge capture document to determine instructional objectives and learning material.
- On an objective by objective basis, determine the best activity(s) for ensuring that transfer occurs? During this stage, SMT Plus personnel reference Blooms Taxonomy and domains of learning (cognitive, psychomotor and affective) and the levels of learning within each domain to guide identifying the most appropriate activity. In most cases, learning activities will be multimodal. An example is using a Training Guide (workbook) to explain how to blow down an inlet separator, then in the field, showing how it is done and then giving the learner an opportunity to practice the procedure. By using a multi-modal approach the effectiveness of the learning experience will be significantly increased. Additionally, creating digital assets for an instructional objective in the form of audio/video recordings, static imagery or animated presentations will improve commitment to LTM (long term memory). Animated presentations can also be accomplished using inanimate objects that have been anthropomorphized. This lightens the presentation and can make the presentation of uninteresting information such as declarative knowledge enjoyable. Making information meaningful contributes to ensuring learning occurs. “Information enters STM (short term memory) (also known as working memory), where it is retained through rehearsal and linked with related information in LTM. Information may be encoded for storage in LTM. Encoding is facilitated through organization, elaboration, meaningfulness, and links with schemas” (Schunk, p. 225)
- Finally, few things in the world are perfect and that goes for instructional design. Summative assessments provide an opportunity for learners to determine their level of mastery and additionally summative results can be used to identify instructional strategies and activities that are not effective. This in turn presents an opportunity to perform an ongoing evaluation of the effectiveness of learning. Evaluation of learning tends to be complex and require the analysis of more than just assessment results however, monitoring assessment results on an objective by objective basis is a good starting point.
The following is recommended to ensure successful instruction:
- Provide advanced material that prepares learners for a learning session,
- Direct learners attention to important concepts to be learned, highlighting relationships among ideas and linking new material to what learners already know,
- Create a correlation for each instructional objective and corresponding learning events and activities.
- Ensure the sequence in which learning is to occur is clearly delineated,
- Use various computer mediated activities
- Create digital assets that can be accessed online and offline
- Develop traditional print-based material with embedded learning activities,
- Create job-aids that aid recall and learning,
- Nurture a culture of learning.
Schunk, D. H. (2012). Learning theories: An Educational Perspective, (6th. ed.). Upper Saddle Hill, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.