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Learning Differences: Do You Know How Your Learners Learn?

#dyslexia awareness #learning differences #learning journeys #learning support Oct 08, 2021

As Dyslexia Awareness week comes to a close, Zoe Cormack, our Head of People and Culture discusses how we support those with learning differences.

Has anyone ever asked you how you learn? Or what tools, resources and support they can provide you to ensure that your learning experience allows you to excel?

Do you act or just collect data?

Earlier this year we partnered with HIT Scotland to deliver a Learning Journey to 2,000 learners in the hospitality and tourism industry. As part of the application process we asked applicants if they had any learning differences or required any learning support. Often this part of the process for many is seen as purely an information gathering exercise, the information is gathered, possibly for statistics, but rarely does anyone take steps to act on the information that is provided.

So why is this?

Perhaps the information is just a data collection exercise? Perhaps they are too scared to ask questions? Perhaps they think that nothing needs to be done and that the learner will already have ‘coping’ mechanisms in place? Or perhaps they take the approach of ‘I know best’ thinking that they know how to adapt their training materials?

Everyone is unique; ask questions, tailor your approach.

We were aware that a number of learners on our development programme had learning differences. We could have taken a one-size-fits-all approach and make assumptions as to how to best support these learners, I mean we’ve been facilitating training for years so we must know best, right? Wrong!

A different mindset.

We didn't think like that. We didn't act like that. We know that everyone is unique, so we took a very different approach. We didn't assume we knew all the answers!

What we did was to phone each of the learners and spoke to them personally.

We asked them how we could best support them with their learning journey.

We explained the format of the learning sessions and the training materials that we would be using.

We asked them how we could adapt our training materials to allow them to get the best out of their learning?

We provided them with samples of the training materials before their learning journey started to make sure that we had background colours, fonts, images etc right for them.

We established relationships, providing them with one point of contact with a person that understood and listened to them.

And then we adapted our training materials throughout the training programme for each individual learner, to ensure that we were supporting them.

How did our learners react, and did it add value?

Initially, there was a stunned silence on the phone when we made the call. This was  followed with a similar response: "I have never been asked that question before."

Think about that for a second and consider that that was the response of EVERY person that we spoke to! They felt supported, relieved, less anxious simply as a result of having a conversation and an understanding of how the sessions would be facilitated and the training materials used. Most importantly they had complete control over their learning experience as a result.

Acknowledge and empower.

When considering future Learning Journey’s, take a moment to reflect on the following:
• The process of learning is not always the same for everyone.

• Learning is not a one-dimensional process.

• There are a lot of factors that can influence how and what people learn.

• Don’t be scared to ask questions, we are all on a learning journey every day.

• Empower people to influence how they learn.

Our approach shouldn't be the exception, it should be the norm if we are to ensure a collaborative and inclusive learning experience for everyone.

 

 To find out more about our leadership development learning journeys please visit: https://www.weareextraordinary.co.uk/open-courses 

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