The Simplest Things
Sometimes the simplest things are, in fact, the most profound. And the smallest changes can have the greatest impact. I believe it is possible to dramatically improve our approach to training and education with just a few simple changes. Changes simple enough that teachers can begin applying them the day they learn them.
To understand the solution, we must first recognize the problem.
The problem is that we leak.
That's right, leak. We leak information.
We very rapidly forget new facts to which we are exposed. If you want to revolutionize training and education, you must fully understand this inherent human weakness. We need to be exposed to information again and again, perhaps even hundreds of times, before we can successfully retain and recall it.
This is reality folks. Don't ignore it. Deal with it.
So how do we deal with this without genetically altering humans? Here are the simple steps:
- Clearly identify the facts you want a student to learn.
- Provide a method to reinforce those facts over time (over multiple sleep cycles).
Folks, that is it. It is so amazingly simple that it boggles the mind. Have you seen how we actually teach and train our students? We do not do these two things well at all!
Clearly Identify the Facts
Most classes do not clearly identify the specific set of facts to learn. Instead, they take the “guess what I think is important” approach. In this approach, a professor or lecturer stands at the front of the room and drones on and on for hours and hours, over days and days. Eventually, a test is presented to the students. The students are not told exactly what is going to be on the test. Instead, the students get to guess what the instructor thinks is important.
If you guessed right, you get an A.
If you guessed wrong, you fail.
In either case, it is highly unlikely that you will remember more than one or two of the facts within thirty days of the exam.
This failure is clearly demonstrated in the game show Are you Smarter Than a 5th Grader. We don't remember what we learned in elementary school. Why? Because we leak!
It is really simple folks, if the facts are not systematically reinforced, they are most assuredly forgotten.
To fix the problem, clearly identify every fact the student should remember for the long-term. Next, give the students all of these facts in advance. Yes, all of them. If they should know 1000 things give them all 1000. Help them master all 1000. Test them on all 1000.
I know, this is extra work for the educators. They actually need to clearly identify what the students should master. We don't do this today because we think it would take too much time and energy for students to remember all of these facts. The truth is, with the proper reinforcement system in place, it will take less than five minutes a day.
Reinforce the Facts
To retain and successfully recall facts, they need to be reinforced over multiple sleep cycles. Some facts are learned quickly. They may only need to be reinforced a few times. Other facts, for whatever reason, are learned slowly.
They may need to be reinforced several hundred times.
The problem is, these facts are never the same for two different people. Everyone needs to be reinforcing different facts on entirely different schedules. Admittedly, this is almost impossible to do in a lecture. However, for a computerized tutor, it is remarkably simple.
A computer can be used to build a mind map for each individual student, learning exactly what facts the student knows and doesn't know. The computer can remember every time a student was exposed to a fact, on what date and at what time. The computer can remember each individual student's success in recalling and retaining each and every fact. Finally, the computer can provide a customized reinforcement plan individualized for every single student.
As a result, the computer can ensure every single student masters every single fact, and it does this so quickly that to most students, it does not even feel like studying.
This is not a theory folks, it is a fact. For the last two years at Procuit we have been doing applied research on precisely this method of training. Others have been doing it even longer. It really works. However, don't take our word for it, test it on yourself. Pick something you would like to learn and implement a system of spaced repetition and reinforcement over extended periods of time.
You learn more. Faster. With less effort.
Sometimes the simplest things are, in fact, the most profound. Identify the facts you want your students to learn, all of them, and provide a customized method to reinforce them. You'll be amazed at how smart they become.
Let the knowledge revolution begin.
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My company is Procuit Inc. Visit us, if you are interested in learning more.