What is Accelerated Learning?
Accelerated learning (A.L.) is the most advanced teaching and learning method in use today. It's a total system for speeding and enhancing both the design process and the learning processes. Based on the latest brain research, it has proven again and again to increase learning effectiveness while saving time and money in the process.
Many of today's leading organizations and educational institutions are benefiting from the power of accelerated learning.
What makes accelerated learning so effective is that it's based on the way we all naturally learn.
A.L. unlocks much of our potential for learning that has been left largely untapped by most conventional learning methods. It does this by actively involving the whole person, using physical activity, creativity, music, images, color, and other methods designed to get people deeply involved in their own learning.
According to accelerated learning, here's what people need for an optimal learning environment:
A Positive Learning Environment. People learn best in a positive physical, emotional, and social environment, one that is both relaxed and stimulating. A sense of wholeness, safety, interest, and enjoyment is essential for optimizing human learning.
Total Learner Involvement. People learn best when they are totally and actively involved and take full responsibility for their own learning. Learning is not a spectator sport but a participatory one. Knowledge is not something a learner passively absorbs, but something a learner actively creates. Thus A.L. tends to be more activity-based rather than materials-based or presentations-based.
Collaboration Among Learners. People generally learn best in an environment of collaboration. All good learning tends to be social. Whereas traditional learning emphasizes competition between isolated individuals, A.L. emphasizes collaboration between learners in a learning community.
Variety That Appeals To All Learning Styles. People learn best when they have a rich variety of learning options that allows them to use all their senses and exercise their preferred learning style. Rather than thinking of a learning program as a one-dish meal, A.L. thinks of it as a results-driven, learner-centered smorgasbord.
Contextual Learning. People learn best in context. Facts and skills learned in isolation are hard to absorb and quick to evaporate. The best learning comes from doing the work itself in a continual process of "real-world" immersion, feedback, reflection, evaluation, and reimmersion.
Accelerated learning has really one aim, though: to get results. Accelerated learning is paying off handsomely for many organizations. Here are just a few examples.
The Guiding Principles of Accelerated Learning
1. Learning Involves the Whole Mind and Body. Learning is not all merely "head" learning (conscious, rational, "left-brained," and verbal) but involves the whole body/mind with all its emotions, senses, and receptors.
2. Learning is Creation, Not Consumption. Knowledge is not something a learner absorbs, but something a learner creates. Learning happens when a learner integrates new knowledge and skill into his or her existing structure of self. Learning is literally a matter of creating new meanings, new neural networks, and new patterns of electro/chemical interactions within one's total brain/body system.
3. Collaboration Aids Learning. All good learning has a social base. We often learn more by interacting with peers than we learn by any other means. Competition between learners slows learning. Cooperation among learners speeds it. A genuine learning community is always better for learning than a collection of isolated individuals.
4. Learning Takes Place on Many Levels Simultaneously. Learning is not a matter of absorbing one little thing at a time in linear fashion, but absorbing many things at once. Good learning engages people on many levels simultaneously (conscious and paraconscious, mental and physical) and uses all the receptors and senses and paths it can into a person's total brain/body system. The brain, after all, is not a sequential, but a parallel processor and thrives when it is challenged to do many things at once.
5. Learning Comes From Doing the Work Itself (With Feedback). People learn best in context. Things learned in isolation are hard to remember and quick to evaporate. We learn how to swim by swimming, how to manage by managing, how to sing by singing, how to sell by selling, and how to care for customers by caring for customers. The real and the concrete are far better teachers than the hypothetical and the abstract - provided there is time for total immersion, feedback, reflection, and reimmersion.
6. Positive Emotions Greatly Improve Learning. Feelings determine both the quality and quantity of one's learning. Negative feelings inhibit learning. Positive feelings accelerate it. Learning that is stressful, painful, and dreary can't hold a candle to learning that is joyful, relaxed, and engaging.
7. The Image Brain Absorbs Information Instantly and Automatically. The human nervous system is more of an image processor than a word processor. Concrete images are much easier to grasp and retain than are verbal abstractions. Translating verbal abstractions into concrete images of all kinds will make those verbal abstractions faster to learn and easier to remember.
Accelerated Learning Takes Off -Bell Atlantic found a way to make employees productive in half the time of traditional training methods. In the bargain, they created a learning atmosphere that was fun, efficient, and beneficial to everyone involved.