Keep it simple

Nelson, controller at BBC Training and Development, says organisations
shouldn’t get too clever about learning

one more person says to me that e-learning is the answer to everything, I think
I may just resort to violence.  Yes, it can
be highly effective – which is why the BBC is investing £4m in its own Learning
Online broadband project – but it isn’t some kind of panacea.

said that, neither is any other type of training delivery. The fact is that
people learn different things at different times and in different ways.

understand some of the reasons why people want to learn – better career
prospects or inquisitiveness about a subject that interests them. In short,
they perceive some sort of benefit from the process, either personal or

appreciate that people learn in a variety of ways, most fundamentally, through
the example set by those around them – including parents, teachers and
colleagues in the workplace. Throughout our lives we observe, we absorb, we emulate.
We reflect on our mistakes (some of the time) and build on our successes. But,
when learning works, what is it that’s the common denominator?

my view, it’s receptiveness. Bottle it and you’d be rich. But, until the time
comes when we can order it over the Internet or download it when required, what
can we do to encourage this state of mind? I’m not one for theories, but here
are a couple of methods I personally find useful, which may be of interest.

with the multimedia analogy – to input data on a computer we bombard it with
information and signals.

people, one way of helping them to learn is to do the same. Surround them with
information and feedback via a variety of methods and types of delivery so that
a proportion of it is taken on board.

helps if you firstly find out what really drives their behaviour, then make
whatever that is into a process of feedback so that each individual’s
reflection on what they’ve learned is attached to it.

encourage people to view everything as a learning experience. Give them a
couple of examples. Meetings and interviews are two that I use regularly: I
tell people that, during meetings – if they’re prepared to listen to others,
accept comments, praise or criticism and observe how people are responding to
them – there’s all manner of things they can learn about themselves and others.
Conversely, if they’re only concerned with expressing their own opinions –
there’s not much chance that they will be receptive to anything else.

also share with them my perception of job interviews, which I believe are a
fantastic learning process – even if a person isn’t successful in gaining the
position they’re applying for. Something good always comes out of it. Either
people learn something about themselves that they can use to their advantage
down the line or, by taking a risk and putting themselves forward, they will
have exposed their skills and talent to somebody who might never have known
they existed.

are only two basic strategies. Truth be told, if I knew how to make everyone
receptive to learning, I would be writing the book at this moment.

doubt, it’s this “learner-tuning” that is the real panacea for a successful
learning environment. If anyone has a sure-fire method of achieving this I’d be
delighted to hear from them.

Nelson directs the activities of BBC Training & Development, a £30m
business, training more than 24,000 people a year in multi-media, audio-visual
and journalism skills. Outside the BBC, he is chairman of Skillset – the UK’s
national training organisation for the film and broadcast industry – and is a
director of Roffey Park Institute

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