Written by Anni Hollings, Executive Consultant.
Having been involved in helping others develop their knowledge, skills, abilities, opportunities, aspirations, in short, themselves, over many years, and having faced a myriad of reactions to learning experiences, I have concluded that some things are essential to helping the learning process. I recognize that I need to have these characteristics of learning at the forefront of what I do. This is where REALITY Learning comes in.
REALITY: Relevant, Exciting, Achievable, Lived, Interesting, Transforming, Yields Value
Relevant: If learning is going to be successful, then the learner has to believe that it has relevance to them. In essence, the learning has to place them in a meaningful context in which they can engage in the learning experience. It’s not just the learning though, I too need to be relevant as the facilitator of that learning experience. If the facilitator is not seen as being relevant to the learner, then it doesn’t matter how carefully constructed the learning event is, the learner disengages under the assumption that the facilitator cannot/does not understand my needs.
Exciting: This might sound a little over the top but I truly believe that a learning event should create a sense of excitement about what is expected both from the learning and after the learning. If there is that sense of excitement then there is a frisson about what to expect, and this helps learner engagement and motivation. But, excitement isn’t enough. I remember being very excited about the moon landings but it didn’t spur me into studying Astro Physics! Learning that is exciting raises that desire to participate in the process, expectations are raised and that means that as a designer and deliverer, I need to capture that excitement and build upon it.
Achievable: Learning can be a source of anxiety where learners worry about what is expected from them and will they be able to cope with the content and the experiences. A learning experience should pay attention to building confidence, so time has to be given to ensuring that, allowing learners to feel confident that they can succeed. That sense of self-efficacy is not only key to a sense of achievement, but also to feeling that the learner can make a difference, they have control of what is happening to them and what they want to achieve. What is more, the achievement motive is quite well understood, so the link with the motivation to learn and engage is right at the core of REALITY learning.
Lived: Learning takes place in a time and space but also in a context. Unless the learner feels a connection with what is happening and how it will relate in the workplace, learning loses the sense of belonging to the learner’s present and future. The learner feels alienated and excluded, and the learning becomes something that has no meaning for the learner, making them struggle to focus and engage.
Interesting: Interest partners excitement but goes further. Building and sustaining interest is a key task and a core skill of any learning facilitator. To get the initial attention of any learner, what’s on offer must pique their interest, so we need to be aware of what is happening in the world of work and how these happenings impact employee experience. We need to be able to capture attention by designing and promoting learning that not only looks and sounds of interest but learning that also triggers a sense of ‘I need to know more’. If learning is going to be successful we need to promote buy-in right from the start and then ensure that throughout the learning event interest is sustained by surprising and delighting the learner. It is not enough to get the learner to the event, the challenge is to keep them present and active.
Transforming: Learning is an individual programme of change. At the end of a learning programme, the learner should feel different. When you deliver programmes that lead to individual transformation they inspire loyalty and commitment within your organization. These employees build so much more than their own growth and development, they build the organisation’s brand and reputation. Furthermore, they foster a culture of change that is not to be feared, where adaptability and innovation are embraced and change readiness is leveraged.
Yield Value: All of the above is then built into an expectation for the individual learner that the learning experience provides something of value to them, something that is worthwhile and something that will give a return on their investment. Learning should require effort, challenge and some discomfort, but if the learning event is perceived as being something that will and does add value, learner engagement will be much easier to capture. The challenge though is to ensure that the investment pays off and that we never over-promise and under-deliver.
So this is my approach to REALITY Learning. REALITY is a mnemonic I use in change programmes too and in incorporating Diversity, Equity and Inclusion into the corporate experience.
If you would like to know more about this, please contact me or Helen Bailey at Strategi Solutions and we will be happy to explore it further.
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