Learning is the acquisition of skills through experience, study or being taught. And knowledge is the set of skills, facts and information acquired through learning. Training and development solutions exist to bridge the gap between the two, to facilitate the alchemy of one into the other, and to translate learning to knowledge.
To understand how these solutions work, we must understand the process of learning itself.
Metacognition, informally defined as thinking about thinking, is part of this equation. Understanding what influences our personal ability to learn (or the ability of our employees to learn), what strategies are available to us and which of those strategies should be deployed in a certain situation is important to be aware of. Taking steps to improve our metacognitive skills enhances our ability to acquire knowledge across the board.
The other part of the equation is how training solutions combine the seven learning styles with a general approach to instruction for optimal success.
The Seven Learning Styles
- Visual – using pictures, images and spatial reasoning
- Aural – using sounds and music
- Verbal – using words both written and spoken
- Physical – through our sense of touch and our bodies
- Logical – using reason and systems, typical in mathematics
- Social – in groups and with other people
- Solitary – alone and through self-study
General Instruction Process
- Exposure – some form of introduction and instruction of the skill or concept
Application – the learner deploying the skill or concept in a scenario
Feedback – the learner gains feedback from those instructing
Correction – to change our application or method if necessary
Practice – the repeated application of skill to bolster our ability
Mastery – learning is now knowledge that can be applied correctly
Essentially, knowledge is acquired by changing the synapses between neurons in our brain. This creates different neural pathways and allows our brain to encode information inputs. We’re constantly adapting as our brain manages these changes.
First a learner exposed to the skill or concept, through some form of the seven styles. However, they do not have the neural pathway yet. That pathway is created as we apply the skill correctly to the appropriate scenario. Once we apply it, we garner feedback from those instructing us and correct our application and method if need be. Then, we practice. And the practicing is what reinforces the new pathway until it is hard-wired.
Training and development solutions are created to expedite and optimize the learning of any skill or concept. They’re created from a combination of the learning style deployed throughout the general steps of instruction until a neural pathway has been reinforced. And reinforcing those pathways is how these programs translate learning into knowledge.