In this next blog series we’ll share research based tips on how to get the most out of virtual learning programs. Discover ways to determine the likely effectiveness and uptake of online and blending learning.  Understand what your brain needs to engage in learning, memorize and then apply it.  Critical, is the installation of new brain PARTS. Quite literally. Let’s start with the P –  Prime:

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The importance of PRIMING.

Studies show that when we are curious and looking forward to learning, our brain is more open to taking in and remembering new information and we are more likely to enjoy the learning experience. Curiosity activates the pleasure centre of our brain, the nucleus accumbens. *  Furthermore, when heightened emotional states like enjoyment, curiosity and personal insight accompanies learning, our brain is more likely to put that new information into our long-term storage centre, the hippocampus, so we can use it.

7 ways to prime our brain for learning:

  1. Relevant and meaningful:  Ensure learning content is clearly applicable and useful to peoples’ current roles and needs.
  2. Intrinsic motivation: Curriculum should prompt and require the learner to tap into and clarify their personal reasons for taking the course, and what they care about most.
  3. Clear expectations: Ideally, learning outcomes, content focus and benefits of learning is clearly articulated upfront.
  4. Socialization opportunities: Use of partnering, peer learning, group sharing and individual input through the learning course, appeals to our socially wired brain and helps us more deeply process, embed and be accountable to learning deliverables.
  5. Reward boosting: When seeking to enrol employees into course uptake, senior leadership endorsement, certification options, progress and achievement incentives all help motivate our status craving brains to undertake new learning.
  6. Friendly and human:   Personalized welcome emails, communication and reminders, all help foster oxytocin and dopamine levels essential to encouraging learning participation.
  7. Stimulate reflection:  Questions shared ahead of formal learning commencement should ideally challenge peoples’ thinking, beliefs and encourage thinking around personal needs and goals, to stoke anticipation for the learning to come.

Priming the brain in these ways will help increase learner participation and ultimate learning success!

* Gruber, J. Et al, ‘States of Curiosity Modulate Hippocampus-Dependent Learning Via the Dopaminergic Circuit’, Neuron, Vol. 84, Issue 2, P486-496, Oct 2014.