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February 7, 2017

#MTtalk: How Do You Like to Learn?

Yolande Conradie

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I could drive a car by the age of 13. Of course my mother didn't know, until the day that she wanted to teach me to drive. When I got behind the steering wheel of her car, I started the engine and drove off, with her making all kinds of odd noises in the passenger seat. I had learned by watching closely what she did and trying it out with an old Jeep on a friend's farm. Obviously it worked!

Learning to cook and bake was more of a team effort. I learned by helping my mother and grandmother in the kitchen, and by reading recipes and trying them out. More recently, I've learned a few new baking tricks by watching YouTube videos.

When studying, I always learn best by drawing Mind Maps® and putting them up all over the house. I learn by associating each theme with a specific part of the house. Just recently, I learned to create partitions on an external hard drive by searching on Google, reading the steps, and then doing them. I'm happy to report that I got it right.

Experience is a tough teacher but one whose lessons you don't easily forget. I learned to work with money by sometimes not having enough.  And I learned how to work with people by getting honest, and often uncomfortable, feedback from a mentor. It made me more self-aware and helped me to be careful with my words and even more careful with my actions.

Sometimes I learn directly, other times indirectly. I learn by talking to people. I learn more by listening to people. I learned by watching, doing and experiencing. I often learn a whole lot by thinking and reflecting on things. So, how do you like to learn?

How Do You Like to Learn?

In last week Friday's #MTtalk Twitter chat, our topic was, "How Do You Like to Learn?" Here are the questions we asked and some of the responses from our participants.


Question 1: Why do you undertake learning, e.g. work requirement, personal development, interest or other?

Many participants said that they learn for all of the above reasons. We liked what these participants added to the mix:

@BiscuitByte Once you stop learning, you start dying.

@ZalkaB It's intrinsic motivation and it's about self-growth; how I can develop personally & professionally.


Question 2: What approach do you take when you need to master a new topic or skill?

@PG_pmp I'll first try it on my OWN; then I'll discuss with others when I need to clarify doubts.

@SayItForwardNow I read as much as I can about the topic, and learn from experts in the field. Ask a lot of questions!


Question 3: How have the internet and social media changed the way that you learn?

Responses from all participants emphasized that the internet and social media have completely changed the way they learn. Many of them made mention of how much they learned from the #MTtalk chats.

@FloraBarton Twitter is a world of learning at your fingertips - a quick way to learn new things and to collaborate with others!

@SnowinRI We all began our learning careers with a heavy sigh and we dealt with what was fed to us. Now we feed ourselves and eat as we please.


Question 4: How big a role do online forums and interaction with other participants play in your learning?

@Singh_Vandana A big role. We get to know so many viewpoints and respect diverse perspectives. We're learning the informal way and we're bonding beyond boundaries.

@amypen64 A ton. It connects us with minds all over the world. Some of the best information I have gotten are from people in this chat.

@alberMoire People share more now - this allows us to learn from others' experience. (Books, blogs, podcasts, etc.)


Question 5: How have mentors or coaches influenced your workplace learning?

Lessons we learned from mentors and coaches guide us even though we're no longer with those people.

@MikeBarzacchini Often, simply thinking about one of my mentors and his/her lessons & examples puts me in a more mindful place.

@Jikster2009 My mentors give me new avenues to explore and challenged me to leave my safety zone. I find being a mentor helps me grow too.


Question 6: How much do you value face-to-face learning, and learning by watching others?

@ZoeLord1 Sometimes if you watch others and replicate the action without discussion, you could miss the point / intention.

@DAWitkus I get some of my best ideas watching someone else.


Question 7: Do you prefer self-directed and on-demand learning or formal training at work? Why?

Apart from a few participants who like a blend of on-demand learning and formal training, all the participants were in favor of on-demand learning.

@ShereesePubHlth I prefer on-demand learning but you have to be disciplined in your subject-matter to do this routinely.

@harrisonia I prefer on-demand learning resources. They allow me to get what I need when I need it!


Question 8: How do you decide which on-demand resources to use? What criteria do you use to evaluate?

@BNBbooks Recommendations, courses offered by well respected individuals & institutions, people well known in their industry.

@Sistadahealer For work I use best practices materials. For myself, anything challenging and for self-development areas I need to do better in.


Question 9: What are the benefits of adopting more than one learning style / platform?

@AngelaHemans  The flexibility to learn whenever and wherever, and expand your mind in the process.

<@Midgie_MT I believe benefits include more all-rounded understanding of a topic when approached via different means/platforms.


Question 10: How does your organization support a learning culture? Is there anything they can improve?

@MduduziTNtuli We do support everyone to get empowered while we create time for all of us to be in one room exchange ideas.

@MicheleDD_MT Peter Drucker said, "The most important skill in the 21st century is learning how to learn." We need to embrace new ways to learn.


And, as always, I leave the best for last, so end with words of wisdom from @TalentExch_Biz: "Learning is wrinkle cream for your brain." So if you want to keep your brain and mind young, keep learning!


Next Time on #MTtalk

Learning often goes hand in hand with getting feedback. But how often do you feel that it's criticism rather than feedback? Please cast your vote in our Twitter poll over here.

In our next #MTtalk, on Friday, February 17, we'll be asking the question, "Is It Criticism or Feedback?" We'll discuss the difference between the two and how not to confuse them. We'll also share some tips that will help you to deal with criticism. Please join us at 1pm EST / 6pm GMT.

Simply type #MTtalk in the Twitter search function. Then, click on “All Tweets” and you’ll be able to follow the live chat feed. To join the conversation, simply include #MTtalk in your tweet and it will show up in the chat feed.


In the meantime, here are some resources about learning styles and platforms:

Learning Styles

Reading Strategies

Learning Styles Video

VAK Learning Styles

Gagne's Nine Levels of Learning

Take Your Team's Learning to the Top Level

Instructor-Led Training

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