The NATURAL way to learn

NaturalNo child ever learns to walk by sitting through a PowerPoint presentation or by reading a book and yet we sometimes limit our learners by limiting the methods we use in training. My interest in accelerated learning and neuroscience has led me to change the way I train over the years.

From my early years as an IT trainer in the nineties to the present day, as a trainer of trainers, I have tried a variety of ways to make my training both memorable and impactful.

A number of years ago, while researching accelerated learning models, a growing frustration led me to develop my “5 Secrets of Accelerated Learning”:

  • Business focused and learner centred objectives
  • Be a facilitator not a trainer
  • Look at all the various ways in which learners can learn
  • Make the environment safe but visually appealing
  • Learn about the brain to maximise retention

These five broad areas must be addressed if you want to accelerate learning. They are all important but one stands out as being the linchpin and that is the first: business focussed and learner centred objectives. Without meaning and application for the organisations or the learner, the learning is quite frankly useless.

Over the years I have developed my fast and focussed design process, which I shared in April 2015:

1 Determine the organisational outcomes Speak to the stakeholders
2 Determine the learning outcomes Use Bloom’s taxonomy
3 Determine a logical flow and order to the learning Use a mind map
4 Plan what they need to know before they arrive Think of David Meier’s “Preparation” phase
5 Brainstorm ideas for activities Use creativity techniques
6 Complete a session plan Put in the essentials first
7 Plan the post-learning follow up work Think of David Meier’s “Performance” phase
8 Prepare the materials and deliver Prepare, deliver, evaluate and modify.

This is the process used when designing any new training. Some of the stages can change places, but the first two must be in their correct order, with step 8 being the final stage.

To complement these two, I have developed my own accelerated learning model influenced by both Colin Rose’s and David Meier’s Models. Both of these models have some excellent aspects, but in my opinion have not quite encapsulated all five of the secrets.

So in essence, when designing, delivering and evaluating learning I would recommend adhering to the NATURAL model of accelerated learning:


Stands for the “Needs of the business and of the learner”. Identify these and set great objectives to meet them. If the business is behind the learning and the learners are bought into it, there is a strong chance of achieving some change in the business.


IMG_1204IMG_1201Stands for ATtitudes. Prepare the learners before the learning and when they arrive so that they are in the right state for learning. Your attitude is key. Are you the “font at the front” or do you facilitate the learning?

IMG_1212Stands for Unlimited variety of activities to stimulate different learners. Think of different sensory experiences, learner involvement, the experiential nature of what you will do and changes in pitch, pace and tone of the learning to maintain learner engagement and retention at its highest. Take care to consider the brain and the way it works to maximise retention.

IMG_1186Stands for Review. Regular review during the learning helps to cement it. Think also after the learning to introduce reviews at the following intervals: 24 hours, 1 week, 1 month, 3 months, 6 months, 1 year.

Stands for “Ask questions of the learners and of yourself”. For the learners the key IMG_1207ones are: How will you use this? What is working well? What will you do now? For yourself the questions should be: What works well? How did you do it? When did you do it? What are you going to do differently next time? What else do you need to do?

Stands for “Lead by example”. You should be a role model for your learners, so that if you are teaching excellence in a particular IMG_1189arena, you need to be that visual representation of that excellence. It also stands for “Leave with actions”. If they have no Oactions – what difference will the learning make to the organisations or the individual?

Would love to hear your thoughts about my approach to accelerated learning…..



Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s