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On memory, motivation and mastering more than most

This blog post is a bit of a reply on Charles Cock’s website and I share some thoughts on how we get learners engaged in different kinds of learning,… it’s not scientific, just some hazy thoughts, but sometimes hazy thoughts can go a long way…

What are the tools really great teachers use to engage their learners? Well, a few years ago, I had the benefit of doing a Management Course at the UFS. One of the subjects I dreaded most was Accounting. I never had it as a subject at school, have no interest in it – and really worried about it.

In walked the lecturer.
And I braced myself for two hours of hell… the first in a series of 21 lectures.
Then he did something tremendous. He gave us a pep talk about how he understood that not everybody has a natural inclination or a background in accounting. He assured us that he would pick (“us”) up right from nowhere, if we just promised to do what was asked, and more to apply what was learnt, not only to “assume” we understood.
That pep talked turned everything around.

Many lecturers will teach the subject, and not care how you get to understand it. In this case, the first engagement was assurance and that made all the difference.

Another strange form of engagement is if the lecturer is having fun. And no, you don’t have to be present as lecturer to have fun. I just look at Scott Kelby and his friends at www.photoshopusertv.com to see how trainers can enjoy what they do. Why do we have so little fun-filled e-learning courses…even serious subjects can have elements of fun in them.

Another form of engagement is to get people to do something practical – but not “grunt”- assignments. The fascinating thing is that we are giving high level cognitive assignments, but often without practical “proof what you have learnt”. At school level you now have a google competition among well-meaning parents, trying to give their kids good term marks – the ultimate in disengagement for the kids. I am waiting for the gutsy teacher to say – “This is not the best in terms of research or memory, or cutting and pasting – but I can see you have applied mind, body and spirit in creatively engaging… therefore I give you a higher mark”… And I keep on waiting…

Well, this is my humble contribution in terms of engagement for e-learning – let;s motivate and connect (same thing in a way), let’s make sure learning is fun by not copying and pasting materials from dull books onto dull websites ( gee, we need some passion here), and lastly, let’s have some real engagement and not traditional assignments but rather assignments which engage our creative mind, combined with our thinking skills, memories and yes, often, our skills for finding something differing from what lecturers/teachers want us to find….when real learning will take place.