Lectures Don’t Work: Why Accelerated Learning Is the Answer


When you went to school, I’m willing to bet that lectures were a common form of teaching. Then, when it came to test time, you reviewed your notes—maybe transferring them to flash cards to help you memorize the content—realizing after the test, you hadn’t retained much. Learning is not just about tests and memorization. It’s about making connections with new information so that it goes into long-term memory. Think about it this way—would you want to rely on a surgeon or pilot based only on how well he or she performed on written exams? A pilot needs to have real-world flying time. Your surgeon needs to have logged hundreds of hours practicing his or her skills. This is real learning. It’s about real-life application and great results. That’s why when I help organizations design learning programs, I use a method called Accelerated Learning.

Some might think Accelerated Learning is the act of acquiring a lot of information in a short time period. But that’s not it at all. Accelerated Learning is a methodology that focuses on more effectively using the brain—appealing to both the left and right sides and appealing to the emotions—in order to unlock an individual’s full learning potential. It’s a holistic learning method where people can acquire and retain information and skills—for the long-term—because they are in an enjoyable, relaxed and emotionally safe learning environment. Participants work individually, in pairs, and groups. They interact, discuss and collaborate. They apply new information immediately through activities—getting immediate feedback about what they’ve learned and finding out in real-time what they don’t know and how they’re growing.

And it works.

I once created a new training program for the ticket agents at a major global airline. When I was designing the learning space—building a relaxed, safe environment that would be conducive to learning—I got pushback.

Executives questioned, “Calm? Relaxed? This doesn’t reflect the real-world environment for our ticket agents.”

True. An airport is busy, full of harried travelers facing a never-ending list of issues—and the ticket agent often bears the brunt of their frustrations. But I knew that our learning environment had to be enjoyable. It had to be relaxed based on the latest brain research, which proves that people learn best in a relaxed, alert environment and learning is actually inhibited in a stressful environment. I convinced them to try a different training approach.

And guess what? After the ticket agents completed their training and went into the field, the airline saw a $1.6 million savings in the next three months. Talk about a return on investment.

Another time I developed an Accelerated Learning course for a corporation in the Middle East to help its employees learn English for technical training. One employee had a severe stutter. His prior learning experiences had been so traumatic that he was truly scared of the classroom. But Accelerated Learning focuses on creating a stress-free, positive environment that inspires people to learn, an environment where people feel emotionally safe to participate and take risks. This made all the difference for this one employee. He didn’t feel pressured to learn English faster than his peers. The classroom environment was supportive, boosting his self-confidence to speak. By the end of the six-week program he could speak without a stutter.  It was life changing for this student, and is what can happen when you create an emotionally safe learner-centered environment.

But it’s even more than that. Accelerated Learning acknowledges all of our senses. We incorporate music, art, metaphors and stories. We focus on active learning that leverages the multiple intelligences. And we think holistically about individuals—successfully transforming them from passive learners into active, curious and excited learners; problem solvers; and creative thinkers.

I’ve been an educator for over half of my life and I love finding new ways to help people learn. We’ve come a long way, but we still have a long way to go. When it comes to learning—whether you’re a teacher, parent, corporate trainer, HR leader or all of the above—if you’re committed to helping each person tap into their unlimited learning potential, Accelerated Learning is the way to go. By creating meaningful learning experiences using Accelerated Learning, you’ll engage the learner, build self-confidence, get profound results and take your organization to the next level. This method can be applied to any content, any industry, anywhere in the world.

For more information on Accelerated Learning, contact Karen at karen@learning-elements.com.