How does dynamic learning work?

What is the most comfortable and effective approach to adult learning? How did recent brain research findings change the classical theory of modern learning? What is dynamic learning? Let's figure it out.
How does dynamic learning work? | ManGO!'s business game, training, and facilitation sessions

Neuropsychological studies give a new perspective on the learning process. Now we can organize the learning process in a way to make sure none of the trainees feel helpless or depressed. Instead, we bring them into a world where they can open up and develop while increasing their confidence and satisfaction. Yes, it really is achievable through proper staff training.

Traditional knowledge transfer

With the suppressive effect of traditional learning, many people feel lonely as they acquire new knowledge. Even in group classes, students are only responsible for themselves and their own educational achievements.

Very often, the process involves no pictures or other visual aids to stimulate the creative process. The purpose of eye-catching images, meanwhile, lies in evoking associations and boosting brain activity. The traditional approach, however, seeks to impose on students a teacher's point of view as the only right one. The ultimate goal, therefore, is to diligently memorize all the information given.

The motivational component comes from competition, which causes additional emotional tension. Not a very promising way to train your employees, is it?

In his book "Psychological Principles of Adult Learning", Klaus Vopel brings attention to an important aspect of the traditional approach. It basically represents not only a system of knowledge transfer but also a powerful control mechanism.

Condition-based learning assumes the absolute disempowerment of a learner. As long as participants don't interact with each other, have no right to do so, and are only required to simultaneously execute the same instructions, group training remains just an empty title. As such a way of learning is no fun, its completion brings relief even to the most diligent students.

The experience of the past 50 years made it clear that the dominating role of a teacher does not contribute to learning effectiveness. Students must be allowed to interact with each other while learning itself should become a more vibrant and practically oriented process. Such attempts have already been made but not always succeeded. Despite a great deal of research into small-group learning and humanistic psychology-based ideas, the same old classic techniques are still being widely incorporated.

Companies want training to make employees more open to change, committed to continuous self-development, and focused on personal growth. This, however, necessitates a different approach.

What is dynamic learning?

Dynamic learning is a way of organizing education based on the knowledge of brain function.

What do we currently know about brain activity induced by learning and the learning process?

Our brain operates at different levels of functioning. In this complex adaptive system, everything is Influenced and influential - thoughts, feelings, fantasies, attitudes, physiology. For corporate training to be effective, it needs to involve different aspects of mental activity.

The general concept of the human psyche is sociality. We are made this way: we explore the world through relationships with others and interpersonal interaction. This way, instead of working with each isolated participant, we should work with a group as a whole. The purpose of a coach is to maintain an "accepting" atmosphere in the group to give everyone a sense of belonging. After all, this is one of the most important human needs.

It is important to satisfy the learners' natural desire to communicate with each other and with a coach.

Apart from that, learning also depends on physiology. Being a bodily organ, the brain work obeys the laws of physiology. As we gain and interpret new experiences, our brains change. Stress, fear, boredom, happiness, satisfaction, excitement, sense of security - everything leaves its imprint, thereby transforming it physically. It's hard to imagine that learning has an effect on a physical organ, and yet it does. While rest, relaxation, stress, fatigue, and nutrition affect our bodies, it all affects the brain the same way. Consequently, it affects the quality of education, too. That means learning requires comfort, proper timing, and respect for each person's individual cycles and rhythms.

We all want meaning. It's essential that we don't memorize but interpret and understand our experiences. One distinctive feature of the human psyche is its ability to search for meaning. No matter how complex our thinking and comprehension may become, the strive for deeper purpose remains unchanged. One thing to understand is that staff training is not a mechanical process. Each trainee, therefore, needs the meaning of every task assigned.

It's important to ensure that every step of the learning process is meaningful, challenging, and engaging. It should lead to discoveries and enable students to stay in control of their own education.

Known and Unknown. Our brain simultaneously looks for information known and unknown. This way, we all act as researchers and artists at the same time. While the brain searches for familiar images and creates new ones, it actively shields itself from anything meaningless. When we fail to link information to our past experiences, it often seems to have no meaning.

This process of finding familiar experience, interpreting, and making sense of it lies beyond a coach's capabilities. The best thing he can do is organize the process to let everyone make their own findings.

To make this effort a success, learners need to develop a personally meaningful understanding of the knowledge they gain.

Feelings is another key factor in learning. Since emotions and thoughts are inseparable and interdependent, they influence the way we perceive meaning. The emotional climate in a group determines the quality of learning. An acceptable environment is one of support, mutual respect, and acceptance.

The brain analyzes and generalizes information at the same time. In healthy people, left and right hemispheres work in tandem, regardless of the activity. whether it's reading, drawing, or physical labor. Whether we're reading, drawing, or working physically, the brain breaks information into pieces and perceives it in its entirety at the same time. Therefore, learners must not get too enthusiastic about either the whole subject or its individual components.

As we focus on something, we also take into account the things outside the zone of our attention. The brain perceives even the information we may not notice directly. Peripheral cues, therefore, play their role in the learning process.

Those are unconscious signals we send: inner conviction, attitude toward students. The cues are to be "read" by the participants and influence them. This brings us to the importance of the environment. It's not just about the noise level, lighting, or temperature. Apart from that, it's the mood of others, surrounding objects, music, and the interior that influences the participants.

Learning activates the conscious and subconscious levels simultaneously. We actually acquire much more knowledge than we think we do. A lot of information we receive is to be processed later: in an hour, a week, or a month. The only way to grasp experiences we haven't seen before is through active evaluation.

There are different ways of memorizing information. Studies suggest the existence of various memory systems: one to store short and scattered information, the other to record different time and space experiences. While the first one involves memorization, the second keeps detailed track of our experiences without any memorization and is constantly ready to capture a new one.

It's hard to absorb knowledge and skills learned in isolation. This kind of information takes a long time to learn and memorize. Involvement of the "personal" memory, i.e. the inner world of each student makes memorization effortless.

The best information to remember is the one that we can feel and "live through". "Incorporating" learning into personal experience is a fine art. The easiest way to do so is through a business game.

We are lifelong learners. Our brain is constantly developing at different levels. Studies have proved the brain undergoes unlimited and unstoppable development. It is capable of making new neural connections at any age.

People learn more effectively when challenged and excited, with threats making the process less effective. The best learners are the ones who face risks and challenges. Whenever it senses a threat, the brain "shuts down", loses flexibility and receptivity, and seeks "shelter". Helplessness is what robs us of our ability to absorb information. With this in mind, we can conclude that effective learning requires a relaxed yet "attentive" atmosphere, with a minimum of fear and plenty of stimulation. It's important to avoid non-productive fears, manifested by a feeling of helplessness or extreme fatigue.

Each person's brain is unique. It is learning that changes our brains and makes us more and more special. This is why it's important to allow participants to make choices during the training and ensure these are solely participants' own decisions.

Dynamic learning organization

What makes dynamic learning possible is the creation of a perfect learning experience composed of three phases:

  • Creation of a relaxed yet "attentive" atmosphere.
  • Immersion into a complex experience.
  • Active evaluation of this experience.

ManGO! Games team undergoes continuous improvement in this direction, based on the current challenges, our knowledge of dynamic learning, and findings from our own numerous studies and experiments. 

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