Meaningfulness

I may have invented the word, but I’m not that literate to know whether I did or didn’t. Doesn’t matter really…does it?

In any case, I have been researching brain physiology as of late because as far as I can tell there ain’t no (literacy 101) common understanding of the word ‘learning’ within and outside of the training and development community, sometimes referred to as the ‘learning community’ which blows my mind a little bit.

Aside: So who isn’t part of that community? Plants…altough I think they learn too.

I digress. I have as of late been researching what I believe to be the only fair definition of learning which is the physiology of learning. There is in fact specific physiological processes that go down in the brain when we are learning, and these processes can actually be observed if you have the right equipment. They can not however be observed otherwise and without testing using the right equipment, your not testing the right thing. So what I’ve been trying to wrap my craziness around is finding the right way to tell the ‘learning community’ there is no such thing as a ‘learning experience’ vs a ‘non-learning experience’. There are only experiences. There is no such thing as a non-learner because those physiological processes that I’m referring to are going on all the time even when you aren’t there! And so on…

Going back to experiences, the part that we can observe are the behaviors during and after the experience and try to associate ‘meaning’ to those behaviors….rest assured we’ll never be able to measure the ‘learning’. What we do is we try to find meaning in those patterns and infer learning. When we design those experiences we can not control the ‘learning’, we can control the design and there are things that we can comtrol that will help the brain make its synaptic connections. One of the most powerful things we can do is to stop compartmentalizing the experience into its components. In other words the experience as a whole will be ‘meaningful’ to someone not because there’s an avatar, not because we used audio and video but because we delivered ‘meaning’.

Thats right….thats the secret folks…make it meaningful and they will learn. To make something meaningful is a question I explored as a philosophy student many years ago. In my book ‘Learning on Demand, I talk about measuring the ‘value’ of content. I see now this is a big part of the equation as value is sometimes synonymous with meaningful, but not always. Something may make me cry but if I measured its value it could come back as inconsequential. If I measure its ‘meaningfulness’ I may get an entirely different story.

In any case its 2am, I’m rambling, I may come back to this….

 

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