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Ann Alder

RSVP Design

Director, RSVP Design Ltd

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How are you using lessons from neuroscience


This month the CIPD have published a report called Neuroscience in Action: Applying Insight to L+D Practice.

How are you using the emerging science about how the brain works and learns to inform your learning design and delivery? I'm interested in practical applications - how has neuroscience informed your learning and change management design and how has it enhanced your enhance learning content?

6 Responses

  1. Hi Ann

    Hi Ann

    I really liked the CIPD research report.  It is a good exploration of where we, as L&D professionals, are at with the science.

    It is a far healthier conversation to look at how we make the process and experience of learning as valuable as possible, rather than look at adopting neuroscience as replacement content in order to present ourselves as credible.

    What strikes me most is how the ‘perfect training’ experience is becoming even further removed from the working world.  I am as interested in what neuroscience tells us about how we are in the workplace and how we can use neuroscience knowledge to think about how we learn in-the-job.  In doing this we can also help people bridge the gap into and out of training experiences.

    I still believe a good experiential activity is best.  Those that help to create an emotional response are most powerful.  Neuroscience can help with our understanding of ourselves during an experience.  As long as it doesn't become the excuse for not doing anything about it!

    Simon Merrell

  2. Thanks for the reply

    I agree with you completely Simon. I'm sure that the insights it gives into how we process information, make decisions and learn can be used to inform the way we design the learning experiences we offer. That's what interests me – not using it as content.

    For those of us that are experienced in creating and using experiential learning activities there is considerable comfort from the emerging evidence that suggests we may have been getting something right!

    I'm a great advocate of 'incidental' learning: avoiding the separation you describe between 'training experiences' and experiences that are perhaps unplanned, happen in all sorts of working (and other) contexts and offer significant potential for learning. I've written a blog on this site recently, explaining the shift I see in the role of the trainer and our responsibility for developing learning capability rather than being subject matter experts or suppliers of knowledge. I think a basic understanding of neuroscience, and a much greater awareness of the learning process,  can help us to make this transition.

  3. brain friendly methodology

    I was interested to see that the tips for brain-friendly learning which include eliciting an emotional response be it laughter or shock……..

    …..then senior managers (usually non L&D specialists but HR or line management/directors get an oversight of any training material and "add gravitas" by converting it to entirely "corporate" speak, removing anything that isn't dead serious and making it as dull as ditch-water and twice as forgettable!



  4. Brain friendly methods

    Hi Rus,

    Yes, I think it is one of the dilemmas we face! We battle the negative connotations that go with 'playing games', the idea that business has to be serious and the fear of anything with emotion attached to it. Interestingly, I've found that the REALLY senior managers – those who have achieved significant advancement in their careers and who are at the top of their game – are more than willing to accept the brain friendly approach and will often engage fully with it. I've had very senior executives completely engaged in big scale behavioural simulations that require lots of 'toys' and lots of emotion. I suspect that they have moved beyond the anxiety about looking stupid as they know they have nothing to prove. They have the capacity to make the links between the 'simulated world' of the activity and the 'real world' of their professional lives and can work comfortably with the metaphor.

    1. Steve,

      you’re right about the emotion .. i’v seen/heard both of these talks before and am currently in tears in my open plan office!!!

      Powerful stuff. It’s great to have a reminder of this.

Author Profile Picture
Ann Alder

Director, RSVP Design Ltd

Read more from Ann Alder

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