EXTREME LEARNER: CARE & HANDLING GUIDE

EXTREME LEARNER: CARE & HANDLING GUIDE AHEADTOMEBOTTMLINERES
OURCES

Michaels & Associates Docntrain, Ltd. dba Michaels & Associates 11639 E. Wethersfield Road, Scottsdale, AZ 85259 USA marketing@docntrain.com www.docntrain.com

Phone: 480-614-8440 Toll-free: 877-614-8440 Fax: 480-614-2775

Copyright © 2008 Michaels & Associates Docntrain, Ltd. dba Michaels & Associates. All rights reserved.

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EXTREME LEARNER: CARE & HANDLING GUIDE

WORKING WITH AN EXTREME LEARNER? H E R E ’ S W H AT T O D O
Just like friends and family, your employees, coworkers and clients have inherent personality traits and learning styles. All of these folks can be fairly typical learners—those who fall into the broad categories of visual, auditory, or kinesthetic learners—or they can be extreme learners. What‟s an extreme learner? Think hyperimpulsive, hypersensory, hypervisual, hyperdistractible and even hyperactive! Here‟s our take on successfully training these difficult-to-reach learners by characterizing and accommodating their unique learning styles through personas. Extreme learner personas According to author Alan Cooper in The Inmates are Running the Asylum, personas are “a precise description of our user and what he wishes to accomplish.” If you haven‟t used personas, consider them “stand-in‟s” for actual users that can drive your e-learning or training approach. While personas are not real people, they represent real people. The following pages include personas and training approaches for extreme learners—learners who may be hyperimpulsive, hypervisual, hyperdistractible and hyperactive. Use this document to help identify the “difficult child” in your employee, coworker or client before launching your own training analysis.

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Hyperimpulsive

learners are quick

to judge and are usually right-brained. These learners often lean toward nonlinear thinking and learning.

Name: Age: Profession: Likes:

Jackie 24 Technical Services Representative Being in control, working at her own pace, being free from distractions Changes in her environment, staying focused on one thing, days of boring lectures

Dislikes:
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The Persona:
Jackie is a technical services representative for a small computer company. She‟s only 24 years old, but is a leader in her division: she‟s very creative and comes up with innovative and cost-saving solutions whenever there‟s a tough customer to handle. Her coworkers are constantly amazed at how well she „thinks on her feet!‟ The downside to her creativity? As a hyperimpulsive learner, Jackie is easily thrown off by changes in her environment. Something as small as an air conditioner starting up can distract her just long enough to lose track of the instructor‟s message. To make matters worse, questions pop into her head all the time and interfere with her ability to stay tuned into the class. Endless days of lecture and PowerPoint slides are not only mind-numbing—they are downright ineffective when it comes to Jackie‟s long-term retention. What works for her? When a short training session is available that she has some control over, Jackie is energized, enthusiastic and learns quickly. The best learning approaches for Jackie are mini training modules she can complete on her own time. When she can tune out her distractions, she‟s free to learn.

The Approach:
Learners who are hypersensitive need training that they can adjust to their own visual and auditory comfort level. Like the hyperdistractible type described later in this table, these learners react well to color and styles that are soothing and calming; think „Zen-like‟ training for the best result. Hypersensitive learners may not require short modules and can work through longer training segments once they are engaged in the material. Classroom training can sometimes be too distracting for these learners to maintain focus. Consider self-paced training that they can complete in their own private workspace with a headset.

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Hypervisual

learners

are

keenly

attuned to the visual side of training; note-taking skills are a terrific aid to retention for these learners.

Name: Age: Profession: Likes:

James 50 Sales Representative Colorful graphics & flowcharts, challenging exercises Long lectures, dry training materials

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Dislikes:

The Persona:
James is a 50-year-old sales representative for a large corporation. He sees himself as hypervisual and knows he learns best from graphics and video-based training approaches. The worst training scenario for James is sitting in a classroom with an instructor reading through material—but neglecting to present it visually at the same time. Since he‟s not attuned to auditory learning, James has trouble holding his attention in these situations and may even find it difficult to take notes when there are no graphic clues to help him figure out what‟s important and what‟s not so important. What makes the learning easy? When you give him a colorful graphic or flowchart it‟s a snap for James to hone in on what‟s important—and even take some valuable notes. And whenever there‟s a challenging training exercise, James is the first one to complete his work. He‟ll take a challenging exercise over a simplistic one any day. By challenging himself, James knows with confidence that he has mastered even the most complex subject!

The Approach:
Hypervisual types may represent what gifted learning researcher Dr. Linda Silverman calls “visual-spatial” learners. Visual-spatial learners think in pictures rather than words. They learn all at once and “when the light bulb goes on, learning is permanent.” Since hypervisual learners are “whole-part” learners, make sure you present the big picture when explaining topics or terms. Then follow up with the nitty-gritty details. When designing training, remember that visual-spatial learners master information in a non-sequential manner. Since they don‟t need to see every process performed in sequence, it‟s best to avoid lengthy step-by-step descriptions. Hypervisual learners need a chance to take notes as they are learning as an aid to retention. To play up the visual aspect of training, employ images, pictures, color and other visual media as much as possible. Use diagrams to help these hypervisual types understand links between parts of a system or a concept. Since these folks may have great talent with difficult assignments, make sure their work is

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always challenging!

Hypersensitive
easily affected by

learners

are

extraneous

auditory or visual stimuli.

Name: Age: Profession: Likes:

Samantha 35 Manager A calm environment with no distractions, working in a familiar space Disruptions, bland lectures, changes in her surroundings

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Dislikes:

The Persona:
Samantha is a 35-year-old manager who is a hypersensitive learner. With this extreme personality, she easily senses any and all variations in the office, such as a subordinate not feeling well. While this works for her as a manager, it works against her during training. Changes in the classroom—such as a coworker asking a question—affect her ability to pay attention to an instructor, no matter how engaging. Unfortunately, much of the training her company provides just doesn‟t fill the bill. Large classes and a bland and repetitive lecture format leave her cold. Samantha can learn quickly, but needs to be in a calm environment with no distractions. Her best training experience was when she took an on-line course and completed all of the modules at her desk with a headset. Not only did she complete the lessons quickly, but she also had a high level of retention.

The Approach:
Learners who are hypersensitive need training that they can adjust to their own visual and auditory comfort level. Like the hyperdistractible type described later, these learners react well to color and styles that are soothing and calming; think „Zen-like‟ training for the best result. Hypersensitive learners may not require short modules and can work through longer training segments once they are engaged in the material. Classroom training can sometimes be too distracting for these learners to maintain focus. Consider self-paced training that they can complete in their own private workspace with a headset.

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Hyperdistractible
“low-impact” training

learners that can

need be

approached in bite-size pieces.

Name: Age: Profession: Likes:

Troy 28 Manager in Training Working at his portable training own pace in a familiar environment,

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Dislikes:

Disruptions, trying to stay focused

The Persona:
Troy is a 28-year-old manager in training—and a typical hyperdistractible learner. Whenever he attends formal classroom training sessions, even the slightest disruption draws his attention away from the instructor. While he is a bright individual, his mind is constantly racing forward to the instructor‟s next topic and he is obsessed with flipping ahead in the training guide. When a new student walks into the room he may lose his focus for the next 15 minutes! Troy prefers to work at his own pace and in a familiar location, such as in his work area or cubicle. When working through sessions on his own, Troy finds it‟s a breeze to keep his „eye on the ball‟ and complete his work. Since long training segments totally lose him, his e-learning modules must be short and sweet as well as portable. He has no problems with learning or retention when material is presented appropriately.

The Approach:
Hyperdistractible learners work best in a „Zen-like‟ training environment, just like hypersensitive learners. Color and style should be soothing and calming. Keep audio to a minimum, or choose narration that‟s steady and calm. Whenever possible, give the learner choices with the actual voice that‟s used in narrated e-learning. Employ focused and right-sized modules that they can easily complete in a series of short sessions. The less overwhelming the total training seems, the more likely the hyperdistractible learner will engage in and complete their work. The key is to create learning that‟s to the point and will hold their attention. Classroom training can sometimes be too distracting for these learners to maintain their focus. Consider self-paced segments they can complete in their own private workspace with a headset. If the learner is hyperdistractible and auditory, allow them to repeat material aloud as a memory aid. Provide notes in oral form so that they can listen to material after they leave the classroom, too.

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Hyperactive
physical in training.

learners are often

kinesthetic with a need to have activity incorporated

Name: Age: Profession: Likes:

Rosemary 35 Call Center Agent Activities & interactions, working in groups, diagrams & charts, acting out scenarios Sitting still for hours, long lessons

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Dislikes:

The Persona:
Rosemary is 35-year-old call center agent, and she‟s a hyperactive learner. In her opinion, “training hell” is when she‟s forced to sit in a chair for hours upon hours, taking notes and watching PowerPoint presentations. Any e-learning lesson that takes more than 15 minutes to complete is guaranteed to lose Rosemary‟s attention, interest and ability to retain the information. If there‟s an activity to complete or some interaction on the e-learning screen, you can bet Rosemary will get involved—and learn the material. To effectively learn, she wants to work in groups, diagram on flipcharts and act out solutions to scenarios. If there‟s not a break in her training, she will “zone out” and take her own mental break.

The Approach:
Much like the hyperimpulsive learner, hyperactive types need a learning medium that engages them physically. Many hyperactive learners are actually kinesthetic learners—they need movement and physical activity to learn best. If there is a way to create a hands-on learning activity, use it throughout the training. Include training segments that involve group learning activities and role play when appropriate. This fosters the physical and kinesthetic aspect of training. Since they often need to stretch or stand up to maintain interest, these learners may benefit from modules that allow them to take frequent breaks. Training modules that are perceived to be lengthy may actually result in inappropriate hyperactivity and distractibility.

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EXTREME LEARNER: CARE & HANDLING GUIDE AHEADTOMEBOTTMLINERES
OURCES

To learn more visit these Learning Style and Persona Websites:
 

Considering the other angles
Personas can help you build a sound foundation when you need to create the very best training for your difficult employees or coworkers and match their natural blueprint for learning. Other factors to include in your personas include your learner‟s prior knowledge of the subject, age, and preference for specific media formats. Attempt to get a „pulse‟ on your learner‟s style when you need to zero in on the most effective training approach.

www.astd.org www.learning-stylesonline.com

www.metamath.com/lsweb /dvclearn.htm

www.stylesoflearning.com www.stc.org www.tenfacesofinnovation. com

Tips The Michaels and Associates website (www.docntrain.com) offers free ideas for creating effective training beyond personas. Here are some of our tips:      

 

Identify learner needs, so you can produce customized training that boosts performance levels. Identify any organizational issues that might impact training, so you can strategize how to overcome the obstacles. Identify learner behaviors that need to be changed, so you can effectively address them in training. Determine the direct performance path, so you don‟t waste time and money “over-training” unnecessary tasks. Determine the appropriate resources for your training project. Establish best practices and standards for all future training projects.

www.visualspatial.com www.collegeathome.com/b log/2008/06/10/100helpful-web-tools-forevery-kind-of-learner

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EXTREME LEARNER: CARE & HANDLING GUIDE

We hope this document helps identify the “difficult child” in your employee, coworker or client before launching your own training analysis. Not sure where to start? Drop us a line and we'll be glad to get you started. Michaels & Associates — learning without the mess.

marketing@docntrain.com

www.docntrain.com

toll-free: 877-614-8440

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