ASQ - Team and Workplace Excellence Forum

October 1998


Employees First, Customers Second

Adding Life To Learning

Knowledge Management: It's Really About People

Tricks Of The Trade From The Greatest Showman On Earth


Food For Thought
by Peter Block

Working With Alligators
by Michael Robinson


Brief Cases
Business News Briefs

Views for a Change

Book Review


Adding Life To Learning
Designing Effective Education Programs and Presentations

Shakespeare’s “rose by any other name” might be as sweet-smelling, but as the acronym R.O.S.E., it might provide identity: “Rare Odor; Sweet Essence.”

We are living in an age that thrives on acronyms. Whether you work at IBM, AT&T or P&G, there’s a good chance you’ve been a member of a SDWT (Self-Directed Work Team) initiated by the QC (Quality Control) department in order to increase EI (Employee Involvement). “Acronym” is of Greek origin, and perhaps even Attila’s Huns were guys addicted to “Hunting Unidentified Natives Savagely.”

Not only do acronyms save time, but they also make one think, and, more importantly, remember. The initial letter abbreviations spark the obvious question, “What does it mean?” Once learned, the letters motivate an automatic response of recognition. What’s AQP? The Association for Quality and Participation.

Playing G.A.M.E.S.
Michele L. Deck is a motivational speaker who focuses on educating staff by breaking through the sensory overload of daily life. Her company name, an acronym of course, is G.A.M.E.S., which stands for “Gimmicks And Mania Educate Staff.” Deck also co-authored a book named with the same acronym but standing for, “Getting Adults Motivated, Enthusiastic, and Satisfied.”

“We live in a multimedia, television society that is highly visual and increasingly accustomed to quick sound-bite delivery,” states Deck. “On average, television has a commercial interruption every eight minutes.” Deck points out that despite the ever-increasing number of available TV channels, people still grumble that, “There’s nothing on.” According to a recent survey, 60 percent of television viewers watch with a remote control in hand. “Channel surfing” has become a TV way of life.

The results — as people become acclimated to fast, choppy pieces of information they become numb to actual messages. No longer, then, can potential learners merely be “talked to.” They cannot be expected to shift easily from the familiar bits-and-pieces of a visual mode to an auditory one in which they are to “just sit still and listen.” According to Deck, “Lesson content must be broken into chunks or blocks of learning.” Content must be presented with visual variety and as much class participation as possible.

Time to Improve Memory Skills
Deck illustrates visual learning with the following example; using a large clock-face to demonstrate how memory is built. Pointing to a chair pictured at the 12 o’clock position, she states, “That identifies the mid-brain as the seat of memory.” At 2 o’clock she shows a face without a nose. “That,” she explains, “is because all senses are in the mid-brain except the sense of smell.” At 4 o’clock there is an airplane; it represents the mid-brain’s role as “traffic controller.” At 6 o’clock there is a chair bearing a heart. That picture is a reminder that the mid-brain is also the seat of emotional responses. At 8 o’clock, a series of arrows indicates the importance of repetition. Small packages shown at 10 o’clock identified positive emotions as giving the gift of memory.

Having planted these seeds of information, Deck then reviews the clock positions with picture cards, asking participants to call out the location or the meaning for each of the six positions. This mix of visual and audio tools reinforces messages and improves memory.
The clockface is a frame-of-reference that works because it is highly visible,” Deck explained. “It is familiar. Memory relates, and the repetition as a game reinforces the content being presented.”
Deck also emphasizes the importance of teaching by sound bites, by breaking up the content.

Wondering Thoughts
“Speech can present about 150 words per minute, but thoughts can run through the mind at 400 to a thousand words per minute,” she declares. Deck illustrates this point with the comparison of a person walking to one riding a ten-speed bike. “If they’re to stay together, the bicyclist will have to go slowly or turn in circles. When speech isn’t keeping up, thoughts begin to wander. Involvement requires variety.”
To further facilitate learning, Deck recommends the use of visual aids and audience participation. The goal with both of these tools is to achieve repetition of the message.

Repetition, as in advertising, is the marketing of ideas,” Deck states. “Memory requires up to six times of repetition, either directly or subliminally. Watch a 30-second TV commercial and count how many times you see the product or hear the trade name.”

Not Your Typical Presentation
According to Deck, when planning a typical presentation one should consider:

• How to introduce the subject
• How to deliver the content for the best retention
• How to close with a review that “ties the material
into a loop or bow.”

Possible strategies for the delivery might include repetition, visual aids, class participation, or an unusual presentation enhanced by activities, gestures or sounds.

“I like to call this organizational plan the CPR of teaching,” Deck declared, coming up with yet another acronym. The CPR’s of teaching? “Content Participation Review.” “This,” she states, “is the CPR that adds life to learning.” Deck sums up with her belief that, “Successful learning presentations do not take more time. They require more planning.”

October '98 News for a Change | Email Editor
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