Five Basic Learning Principles every L&D professional needs to know

As learning and development professionals, it is our role is to ensure that everyone within our organisation knows and understands the information they require to function effectively and are able to apply it.

With so much content available to us on a daily basis, you can easily get buried under a mountain of it before we even find what we are looking for. It is very unlikely that we are able to increase the amount of hours in a day; so instead, we’ve compiled a list of five simple learning principles that remind us how to create great learning content:

Infographic displaying the five basic learning principles all L&D professionals need to know. All information contained is in the text below.

This infographic is available for download here.

1. Boredom kills.

Neurologist Judy Willis explains that all information that comes into the brain is filtered through the amygdala. It is the area of the brain responsible for deciding what memories are stored and where.

When a learner becomes bored, the amygdala becomes hyperactive and it sends all of the information it receives to the lower 80 per cent of the brain. According to Judy, this is the “animal brain, the reactive, involuntary brain”. Boredom means that important learning content isn’t remembered.

2. Repetition rocks – use it or lose it.

Most people will have experienced the sore hand and bad hand-writing that accompanies the first day back to school after a long summer break. The same issue follows learners into adulthood. Just like the muscles in our hands, neural pathways are weakened over time. This means that if learners are not using knowledge or skills gained through training, they will begin to forget it.

3. We all have an information limit.

Educational Psychologist John Sweller first coined the term “Cognitive Overload” in 1998. The idea is that we have a finite amount of working memory at our disposal to process and understand information. When a learner is presented with information, it is important that it is delivered in bite-sized chunks which he or she can reasonably process.

4. We all need a reason.

If a learner can’t make the connection between learning content and application in their everyday life, they won’t have a reason and therefore the motivation to understand the topic presented to them. As the person guiding learning and development, it is your role to communicate expectations and the motive behind learning a particular piece of knowledge or skill.

5. Primacy – If at first you don’t succeed.

The first time learners receive teaching, it creates a strong impression upon them. It’s important to present information in a logical and clear manner at the start of any training module. The foundation of learning that you set in place becomes the map students use to navigate all further information.

We know that our list is by no means extensive; there are many different factors to be taken into account when authoring great learning content. We would love to hear what principles you think are most important when creating learning content that engages learners and have worked for your organisation. Please feel free to leave a comment below with if you can think of anymore principles every L&D professional needs to know. We would love to hear your learning and particularly e-learning successes.
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