By Louisa Jaffe, TAPE’s CEO/President
When I think about what makes learning effective, I get a graphic picture in my mind of my training in the Women’s Army Corps almost 40 years ago. I was a second lieutenant and as part of my field training, I was being trained to use a protective face mask, in case there was a chemical agent in the air.
Putting on a protective mask is not intuitive; you need to be shown how to put it on and to use it the right way. The name of that training was confidence training. I thought that sounded nice, but I learned it wasn’t about self-confidence, it was about having confidence in my equipment. I was told that I needed to know how to use this mask or I might not be able to breathe. Let me tell, you, that’s motivating – and it worked! When it came time to go into that gas chamber and I had to clear the mask so I could breathe, I was able to successfully draw on that experiential learning.
We can pull two important learning concepts from this example:
1. Conceptual versus Procedural learning
Most training today centers on conceptual learning, also known as basic declarative knowledge, which involves facts, concepts, processes, principles, or other documented information. Yet very little training is focused on procedural expertise that gives situational context to that declarative knowledge.
Just learning facts about how to use the protective mask would not have been much help to me in the gas chamber. I needed to know how to apply that knowledge: when to put on the mask, how to put it on, and how to clear it. I had to use my knowledge in a specific situation.
- Working memory versus Long-Term memory
The goal is to get learning into long-term memory. The way to get basic conceptual knowledge – facts – into long-term memory is with rapid recall because the only way to learn declarative knowledge is to memorize. Of course, unless you have a photographic memory, you can’t memorize every single fact you’ll ever need. In some cases, you work to at least remember where you can look it up. But it is all about memorization.
The problem is that no amount of memorization is going to teach a learner critical thinking or difficult decision making in the context of his/her job. Again, it is NOT about memorization, it is about experiential learning, i.e., “how, why, and when,” to apply that basic conceptual knowledge. For the learners to be able to ask (AND ANSWER) those questions – “how, why, and when,” in specific context to a real world problem, learners need the repeated practice and experience of deciding the how, why, and when of each situational context using their own imaginations and thoughts. They need to repeatedly use their declarative knowledge in a specific context and receive immediate feedback.
Even today, after all these years, I have confidence that I could step into that gas chamber and successfully put on and clear my protective mask. The procedural learning I did in that training immediately impressed into my long-term memory.
The Solometrix™ model
Here at TAPE we are exploring various training activities using our Solometrix™ artificial intelligence (AI)-based learning methodology. It’s an instructional system designed for adaptive learning, which means the training is modified based on the student’s responses. It includes gamification, measurable results, standardization of on-the-job training, and mastery levels (competencies). The really special thing about this method is the “measurable results” of training for cognitive tasks – critical thinking – we can achieve and standardize.
The methodology is technology-agnostic; we can design the content for any number of types of technology to distribute. With AI it can be scaled to an unlimited number of subject matter experts and provide training to an unlimited number of learners. The success and progress of the learner will be easy to measure if they’re getting it, if they’re learning how to problem solve in the way that is needed. And we will set it up so there are decision points, so the learner either gets it or they don’t. And if they don’t, the training just leads them back to more practice of that learning outcome or idea.
Solometrix™ can accelerate the progression from the classroom to experiential learning through practical application, thus providing more affordable yet more robust learning to each and every student. For more information, please visit this page: https://tape-llc.com/services/training-solutions/learning-as-a-service/.