What does 'learning' mean to you, and how do you measure it?

I'm not setting out to engage in a hissy fit here. I am hoping for a genuine debate and/or exchange of ideas.

Much as I find his presentation style engaging, I have trouble with the fact that Dr Itiel Dror appears to equate learning with recall. In order to assess learning, he tests recall.

When I was a child, committing material to memory was something of a party trick - something to be admired. While I was deeply impressed by Tony Buzan's story of the man who could remember a 200+ digit number, having heard it only once, I can't help wondering what the point is of such a skill.

Nowadays, the shelf life of information is so short, there seems little point wasting brain resource on committing it to memory. When information... any information at all... is so immediately available via the technology at our disposal, I'd rather my learners knew how to find some or other piece of information in its latest incarnation, when they need it.

One of the presenters at the conference gave a stated goal of her project as being the reduction of 'nudge learning' from a neighbour. I'm having a hard time seeing nudge learning as a problem. In fact, I think it's great, and I try to find ways to build into my solutions the means to nudge the right person on any given topic.

So, in this age, what is learning, if it isn't recall? How do we assess it? Do we need to assess it?

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Chortle. I am just remembering an instance when I had to slam on anchors in my car and my (then very little) boy shouted from the back seat the single word "*sshole!" I had never previously realised that this was my stock response to anyone doing anything that caused me to have to brake suddenly. I hadn't meant to teach him that, but teach him I did!
So how did you measure it? ;-)
Hi Karyn,

Great topic. For me it's the process of moving from a state of not to a state of have. So learning is an acquisition process. Recall is important too. If I just need to know where I can find the knowledge I need then if I didn't have recall I'd be pretty stuck.

Measuring learning is an interesting topic. I would tend to agree with you about measuring application over recall although I can't dis-agree that recall is part of application. Measuring application is hard though and as someone pointed out earlier it's not done because it's hard. But should we measure at all?

In corporate land, when we design learning interventions (I don't like that phrase but it'll do for now) we need to have a clearly defined intent. We can then measure intent using some metrics and some management practices. We're not measuring learning, we're measuring the overarching aim. This I believe is more practical and useful to the business. Let me give an example then I'll shut up.

Let's say the intent of the Learning Intervention is to help users be better at supporting X. We know how the business measures the support of X currently (resolution times, high severity issues etc) so we know that to be better we must improve those numbers. We run our learning piece and afterwards we can look again at the business metrics. We can see if resolution times are reduced, if the number of high severity issues has decreased etc. The important point is that we're NOT measuring the learning. We're measuring whether the learning was effective in improving business performance measured using their own metrics.




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