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Jon Kennard


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World of Learning 2014: TZ meets Patricia Riddell and Ian McDermott


We catch up with Patricia Riddell, professor of psychology at the University of Reading, and Ian McDermott, founder of ITS, to discuss the links between education and business and their predictions for the main themes to emerge from this year's World of Learning.

Tell us about your talk at World of Learning.

We want to offer people some neuroscientific insight into the way your brain learns and how to ask the right kind of questions, and combine this with practical advice on how to become more strategic in your questioning. Why? Because being able to ask the right kind of questions is fundamental to success.

First time here or WOL veteran? How has the event changed over the last few years?

This will be Ian third consecutive year presenting and Patricia's second. Ian likes the increasing variety of presentations.

Do you see education tied more closely with business and, if so, what threats and opportunities does this present?

We certainly do see education tied more closely with business: we are an example of it! We came together because we could see how our skills were highly complementary. The result for us has been a stimulating period of innovation and collaboration. This has enabled us to create new programmes where we are able to offer practical L&D techniques grounded in the rigour of neuroscience. Some, such as our Certificate in Applied Neuroscience, are open to the public. Others involve specialist in-house training.

We believe this type of innovative thinking is vital if we are to harness the promise of neuroscience to foster potential and create new business opportunities. For instance, many businesses require behaviour changes on the part of their employees (new strategies, adapting new technology, developing new products) and their customers (uptake of new products and services).

Neuroscience has much to offer in helping businesses understand and manage behaviour change and motivation. But it does need to be applied neuroscience. When it truly is we see enormous opportunities to offer people practical, brain-based tools.

What do you think the themes to come out of this year’s event will be?

We would be delighted if one of the talking points of the conference was the contribution that neuroscience might make to business, by bringing together the understanding of why we behave as we do with the skills necessary to change our behaviours for the better.

Patricia and Ian are delivering a conference session at the World of Learning which takes place 30 September – 1 October at Birmingham’s NEC.

Their session is as follows:

Neuroscience and the art of strategic questioning

• Elicit the right information

• Maximise knowledge transfer with experts

• Determine the quality of the information you are receiving

• Make information memorable

Patricia Riddell is professor of psychology at the University of Reading and Ian McDermott is founder of ITS

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Jon Kennard

Freelance writer

Read more from Jon Kennard

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