aLearning Blog

Online Learning for Trade Associations

Remember the Smell of that Cooking?

Posted by Ellen on March 18, 2010

We all know how hard it is to get presenters to abandon the safe familiarity of the podium and Powerpoint slides and become true facilitators of learning, so I was tickled to see so many interactive sessions included in the ASAE Great Ideas Conference.

These three in particular caught my eye:

  • “Speed Learning for Professional Development Specialists,” facilitated by Tony Ellis of NACS and Bill Scott of The Obesity Society.
  • “Cookin Up Leadership[tm],” facilitated by Rhea Blanken of Results Technology
  • “Leadership through Golf: Learning from Life’s Divots,” led by Ron McNally and Reggie Henry of ASAE and The Center, and Tom Pierce of Pierce Management Development

I can tell these were interactive from the titles, the photos posted online (okay, that’s pretty much a dead giveaway), and from the handouts.

When the handouts consist of worksheets, supplemental readings, checklists and other job aids instead of Powerpoint printouts, then I know something interesting must have been going on in that session. Of course it also means that I won’t learn much without the context around them, but that’s okay. Face-to-face events should benefit those who are there, not those of us mining the handouts after the fact (remote learning and face-to-face learning should be conducted differently, you know).

Hurray for these content leaders who dared to be different — who found ways to make their key points interesting and — hopefully — memorable!

Because it’s all about being able to remember what we learned when we need it, right?

Educational researcher Will Thalheimer, PhD, explains why and how the learning environment (from the room you’re in to the noises around you) impacts how learners remember what they learned. If learner’s can’t recall what they were taught, they won’t be able to apply it.

The report, “Aligning the Learning and Performance Context: Creating Spontaneous Remembering,” (54 pp, $295 value) is one of several research resports, articles, and job aids he’s made available free from his Web site. (If you’re not familiar with his work, you should be. Plus he’s available for consulting!)

In it, Dr. Thalheimer writes, “When people are in an environment in which they learned something, the environmental stimuli trigger their memories and thus aid recall of the information that has become associated with the environment. When people imagine an environment without being in that environment, their memories for that environment can still trigger the appropriate memory pathways to aid retrieval of the learned information” (14).

Trying to remember what you learned?

Think about holding that golf club, or the smell of the cooking, or the faces around the speed learning tables.

Ah! Now it’s coming back to you!

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