Is brain-friendly learning worth it?

Brain-friendly learning is paramount in the modern world. The roots of what you’d consider ‘traditional’ training, i.e. in a classroom, lie in the 18th century industrial revolution.

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Is brain-friendly learning worth it?
December 8, 2020
Is brain-friendly learning worth it?

I’ve championed brain-friendly learning for many years, so this blog may seem controversial. But when Stellar Labs attended the HR Leadership Summit in October, a delegate of our Q&A session made this comment:

The value of brain-science is very important. But it is very hard to embrace because it increases the time, the cost and the efforts you need to invest in effective learning. When evidence based makes things easier there is a chance that it will be used, if not, it often will be forgotten.

I revelled in the opportunity to debate the merits of brain-friendly learning. So much so, I wanted to share it with you all today.

Why is brain-friendly learning important?

Brain-friendly learning is paramount in the modern world. The roots of what you’d consider ‘traditional’ training, i.e. in a classroom, lie in the 18th century industrial revolution. But we’ve evolved and changed a lot since then, haven’t we? There were some additions to training in the 19th and 20th centuries, from psychology and technology. But the end goal of this accumulation was usually knowledge acquisition. That isn’t our main goal any more. We want to focus on skills acquisition for the modern workforce – and that’s where brain-friendly learning steps in.

Here at Stellar Labs, we believe there are five pillars to implementing brain-friendly learning; which when used together lead to deep learning, long term knowledge retention and skills mastery. Our five pillars to brain-friendly learning (which we dub our DNA) are: People, Science, Process, Technology and Data. You can learn more about how we put these pillars into action, here.

Stellar Labs DNA

The cost of brain-friendly learning

It goes without saying that the purpose of using science-based learning isn’t to increase the time, cost or efforts associated with creating learning. However it is likely that a creating brain-friendly learning approach will take a little more time and effort. This is because it involves putting the learners’ needs at the forefront. Including developing a learning experience that will convert create behavioural change and positively impact the business. This art of creating behavioural change cannot be overlooked. It takes more than one learning intervention to create real change. It takes an amalgamation of learning formats, strategies and practice, feedback and repetition over time. And brain-friendly (or evidenced-based) learning does just that.

The cost of bad training

The truth of the matter is that any training programme that does not change the attitude or behaviour of your people, is entirely wasted. So no matter how cheaply it was created, it is money poured down the drain – thus undermining the role and value of L&D in businesses. We can do better than this and we should.

There’s an opportunity cost at play here: Of course you could create a training programme without investing the time and effort into understanding your learner, designing the resources in the most accessible way or delivering it in the right format for your specific cohort. But you’d not see any real impact and your learners would not foster the behavioural change needed to drive your business forward. So not only will you lose the money you invested in creating and delivering the programme – you’ll loose the potential business growth. Now that would be a much greater cost to your organisation than investing more into effective training, wouldn’t it?

Is brain-friendly learning worth it?

Absolutely. Have you heard the phrase “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results”? That’s exactly what L&D professionals are doing if they do not learn to train smarter, to apply the principles of neuroscience to learning and create learning experiences that actually work. As learning professionals it’s time to help the true benefits of our craft be realised, get ourselves out of the box marked ‘cost-centre’ and claim our rightful seat at the boardroom table. To do that we must embrace the learning revolution – and that means doing things differently, once and for all.

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