These last few months at The Chariot Group have given me some valuable insight into a variety of things. Today, I participated in a discussion regarding decision making and how cost sometimes clouds the real issue, value!
Please bear with me while I tell you what happened…
I was sitting in a meeting and, as I usually do, I made myself comfortable and prepared to learn some new jargon and acronyms. 🙂
Today’s discussion was regarding the comparison between interactive flat panels and regular displays paired with BYOD devices, and how the cost of the former is higher than the latter. However, both options deliver a different level of engagement and learning.
This discussion got me thinking about which option has more value; in this case, the value is the probability of information retention!
As a long-time trainer, adult educator and facilitator, I know too well the difficulties people have with retaining information. Likewise, I try very hard to ensure what is presented is likely to be retained. If retention doesn’t happen, my value is greatly diminished!
There are varying ways you can improve information retention. For instance, you can ensure you are using a teaching modality that appeals to the participants’ learning style, you can interject group discussion or group work into the presentation, or you can somehow “test” their knowledge with group or individual exercises aimed at applying what you just told them. These and other educator “tricks” help the participants organize the information in a manner that makes sense to them and helps them put context around the subject matter; both of these things greatly improve retention.
In addition, knowing how our brains work comes in handy when trying to improve retention. Likewise, I appreciate the below “retention process” when developing training and/or presentations:
In order for the participants to “get it,” they need to be present and conscious of what is being said; in other words, they need to actively listen to who is speaking. Voice amplification technology helps the participant isolate what the speaker is saying, which diminishes the extraneous distractions, and serves to be the primary tool for audio learners. Supplementing narrative with pictures, videos, graphics or other visual images enables active listening for the visual learner. Interactive technology enables the kinesthetic learner to actively listen as it is easier for that individual’s mind to stay focused when he/she can participate and/or if there is some type of activity going on.
Participants need to use the information in fairly quickly after they hear it. This could be taking notes, repeating or summarizing the information. It could being participating in simple “application of information” exercises such as comparing the data with something, or telling a story about what they just heard.
Again, technology aids in this step. Document sharing, ideation software, gamification, video capture, and/or digitized white boards are all tools that enable the participants to quickly use information that was just delivered.
Linking information is an important retention process step because it helps the individual “file” the data in a manner that makes sense to him/her so it can be easily retrieved later. (Think of your brain as a large closet and the information you just heard as your clothing and accessories. Where are you going to put your shoes, belts, etc. or are you going to color code your shirts or instead, organized them by sleeve length?) Educators and facilitators need to allow time for participants to “link” the data being shared.
Collaborative technology enables this quite nicely. Interactive solutions allow participants to take information presented and group/categorize it in their own way on a shared digital canvas. Collaborative software allows participants to write notes directly onto presentational material digitally, which allows for immediate linking and “organizing” of data in a way that makes sense to the learner.
The last step in the retention of information process is one of visualization. (Please note, this shouldn’t be confused with visual learning styles. Regardless of ones learning style, visualization serves as the final step in retention and memory.)
This is where technology comes in handy for sure! Presenters as well as participants can utilize front of the room displays, video and image sharing, etc. to drive home the message in a visual way. Whether it’s through graphics, animations, shared canvases or organically (group) developed presentations, reports, etc., collaborative technology can help solidify the message into the participants’ brains for future use.
So, there it is…the inside scoop!
I believe trainers, educators and facilitators should be mindful of these steps in order to demonstrate their value to you!
The Chariot Group teams have exposed me to many technological solutions that aid in all of the retention processes. Voice amplification, interactive displays and projectors, collaborative software, lecture capture and content management systems…all are tools that enable retention and memory. Hence, all of them are imperative if retention of information is important to you!
- If you’re facilitating discussions regarding strategic goals, organizational performance, or action plans, you will benefit from participants not repeating themselves and/or reinventing the wheel the following week.
- If you’re teaching leadership, accounting principles, or safety, you want the students to retain and apply what they’ve learned.
- If you’re inspiring kindergarteners with math magic, motivating a middle schooler to embrace politics or hoping a high schooler will appreciate the classics, retention is the key to your success.