The attention span of a Gold fish?


The attention span of a Gold fish?

Gold fish are said to have a 2 second memory. The time it takes them to swim around the little basin, and believe they are facing a whole new world. Do you sometime find your class to have a similar attention span?

With a million priorities facing us everyday, long term development and training often falls in the background. For many of us it is not even in our KPIs or HR discussions, so at best it’s really a luxury; at worst – just a waste of time.

Take the example of safety. Nobody disagrees that it is important, yet if you think back at your last flight – did you listen to the safety video? Air New Zealand has taken innovative measures, filming the safety videos in the “Lord of the Rings” universe, featuring several of the main actors. Not only do people onboard watch it, more than 20 million people have seen it on YouTube.

As with all communication, if training taps into the interests and needs of the audience, we are much more likely to catch their attention. Nowhere is it more difficult than with systems or process training, where people are unlikely to be interested in a particular detail or step until the day they need it and don’t know how to use it. But at that point the solution must be imminent.

Personally, if I could choose how to learn a new system I’d prefer not to ‘waste’ any time with lengthy training, rather go straight to the ‘Teasing Curiosity’ method. Teasers are short little films or inspiring talks, often taking me through familiar scenarios getting me excited about what the system can do to make my life easier.

Teasers leave me so excited that I start playing around – letting my curiosity guide me around the system, finding my way through trial and error. For more complicated systems, I may loosely follow a series of scenario questions or exercises from the teacher, which secures that I navigate correctly. If I have a question, I will quickly find the answer, and move on with my tour of the system.

Fundamental for this method, is that I can easily find the answer to questions that I can’t immediately solve. The answer must be readily available in the system, via a help-box, Google, phone line, etc. If my question is readily answered I feel energized that I have overcome my issue, ready to learn more about the system. If my question is not answered I loose interest – my curiosity slowly disappears.

People learn in different ways. Some prefer the comfort of class rooms, or the planned structure of a normal eLearning seminar. They would not enjoy being let loose in a new system with limited guidance, curiosity would be replaced by fear. Instead of curiosity a set of structure scenarios and exercises will help them experience the benefits of the systems.

I struggle with normal Microsoft training for two reasons: 1. I believe I know how to use their systems already, so have no motivation for using training (though I definitely would benefit from it!). 2. Their training and guidelines focus on features, instead of being scenario based. So I find it difficult finding the course relevant to me.