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Heather Edick

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Jun 22, 15

"Training vs. School: 4 Critical Differences
Friday, May 22, 2015 - by Diane Valenti
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adult learnersTraining is different than school in ways that are more significant than having to suffer the indignity of being picked last in PE or squirm through a particularly boring and seemingly endless math class.

The very essence of who we are as learners, as well as how and why we are learning, is fundamentally different. So different, in fact, that it should dramatically change how you design instruction. Yet, way too often it doesn’t. Many instructional designers continue to design courses that resemble classes they attended in school.

But the workplace isn’t school, and the goal of talent development isn’t to graduate with honors or even to just slide by with a passing grade. The goal of talent development is to equip learners with new knowledge and skills that enable them to improve their performance at work.

Here are four ways that training is different than school, as well as what this means to you as an instructional designer.

#1: Experience Counts

Children are seen as blank slates to be filled in school. In contrast, adults come to training with a wealth of relevant experience and related knowledge and skil"

  • In other words, if the amount of learning produced by different media is similar, then each of those media are equally valuable for learning. As long as the message remains the same, it doesn't matter what media are used to deliver that message - the effect for learning will also remain the same.

     

    The "no significant difference" literature in media in education can be further interpreted in two ways. First, the NSD findings demonstrate that delivering education at a distance does no harm. That is, students who opt for distance delivery are not immediately put into a compromised position simply because they are not receiving their education in a "face to face" format. Second, the NSD findings indicate that simply converting a face to face course into a technology-mediated distance delivery course does not help improve student outcomes. To achieve gains in student outcomes, we must do more than just deliver the course through a different medium. Quoting Mr. Russell from the introduction to his book,

     
     

    "These studies tell me that there is nothing inherent in the technologies that elicits improvements in learning. Having said that, let me reassure you that difference in outcomes can be made more positive by adapting the content to the technology. That is, in going through the process of redesigning a course to adapt the content to the technology, it can be improved."

  • In the 1980's, with the accrual of several generations of NSD findings, MCS research began to shift focus. Researchers began asking, "Can we improve learning by using technology tools in education?" This led to studies that examined ways in which technology might actually help improve student outcomes. In these studies, the null hypothesis became "Use of technology tools in education does not improve student outcomes."

     

    As the question changed, so did the results. MCS research studies showing "significant differences" (SD) in student outcomes started appearing in the literature, and most showed improvement with technology; that is, they tended not to support the null hypothesis. In many of these studies, courses were redesigned to take advantage of the unique aspects afforded by technology - asynchronous discussions, archives, links to resources. Mr. Russell suggests that by this very effort, tech-mediated distance courses were improved. Quoting Mr. Russell from the introduction to his book,

     
     

    "These studies tell me that there is nothing inherent in the technologies that elicits improvements in learning. Having said that, let me reassure you that difference in outcomes can be made more positive by adapting the content to the technology. That is, in going through the process of redesigning a course to adapt the content to the technology, it can be improved."

  • . It is likely that this very adaptation created a course that allowed students to achieve higher outcomes, rather than the technology itself resulting in the higher outcome
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