Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Mental Middleware

I had a wonderful conversation with Steve Giles today.  He found me via the Workforce Management article "Can Video Games Win Points as Teaching Tools?".

Almost 2 hours of conversation gave me a ton of ideas to blog about.  As we engaged in conversation on topics from DiSC profiles in simulations/games, to Diversity Training, to The World is Flat, and how wonderful Arizona is, I slipped out the phrase Mental Middleware in response to how we currently “train” DiSC profiles.  I pondered this term all the way back into the office as a great way to describe Learning1.0 strategies, and their indirect outcome (intended or not).


We load our learners with MENTAL MIDDLEWARE.  We train our customers on any topic by simply filling their brains with more facts and information.  We give them job aides, acronyms, tool tips, etc.  But how often are you in a conversation or meeting and think to yourself, “oh yeah, this gal is a high D maybe I should say it this way instead”.  I’m sure that I’m not the only one who sees value in personality profiles as a way to better understand and communicate more effectively.  But when learners are expected to APPLY what they have learned they constantly must process this new information multiple times over and over again until it becomes routine.   Not a news flash, but I would guess most learners DON’T:  They simply go back to their old habits once the “training” is over.


Besides supporting “After class” learning via informal learning tools and workflow learning, we should consider taking our formal training the last mile through robust simulations that offer multiple (many, many) opportunities to practice using the new information in context so that part of the formal training is actually changing the behavior.  Once the formal training is complete the behavior change “After class” should be almost complete and therefore simple to integrate into daily routine.


So let’s stop piling on the Mental Middleware and kicking our learners out the door to run the last mile on their own.  Let’s begin to develop more complete formal learning experiences and utilize Learning2.0 tools to support them after class.


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