Exploring New Ways of Learning at Work

At the 2018 Imagine Your Workplace Conference we tried out some new techniques we want to share with you — and we invite you to suggest your own brave ideas for reinventing learning in the workplace.

Be bold. Be brave. Be bodacious.

And that is what we did! At the Imagine Your Workplace Conference, held on June 7, 2018, at the Toronto Botanical Garden in Toronto, Ontario, we had a blast experimenting with some of the new ways of learning we’ve covered in prior issues of Your Workplace. We also expanded on some tried-and-true methods that we love.

Now it’s your turn. Want to make an impact at the next training session you have to plan? Or maybe you just want to shake things up a little? Consider trying some of these less conventional learning techniques.

Learning through physical activity

Networking isn’t always easy, so at our conference we always try to build in opportunities for people to connect. Brain Share is a structured yet casual session that fosters connection. In small teams, participants take an outdoor stroll through the Toronto Botanical Garden and problem-solve interactive challenges together.

This year’s challenges were especially creative and fun. One of our partners, BBD, created an entire escape room, and we made a bean-bag toss to match quotes to conference speakers.

Why do we do this?

There is substantial evidence that physical activity improves brain function. A 2016 article in The Guardian, “How Physical Exercise Makes Your Brain Work Better,” details how exercise can boost your memory and improve your concentration. For example, German researchers showed that walking during learning helped new foreign-language vocabulary to stick.

Incorporating information into a physical activity not only makes it stickier — it’s also a great opportunity for the kind of fun that promotes team building.

Learning through play

Not that long ago we covered LEGO® Serious Play® in an article, and thus were curious to try it out at our event. It’s exactly what it sounds like. A facilitator (we used the professionals at BrickLabs based in Toronto) brings LEGO into a meeting or workshop and, through play, you brainstorm, communicate, plan or strategize.

We got a little over-ambitious and let our enthusiasm get the better of us by trying to combine it with a networking lunch. Although we may not do this valuable activity over a meal next time, it is worth noting that it really does help promote meaningful conversation. Putting thoughts and feelings into a tangible object helps people express them more easily. It’s a great way for employees to get to know each other and for people who do know one another to learn more new things and conversation topics they didn’t expect to talk about.

Learning through storytelling

Stories are an intrinsic part of being human. Before the written word, storytelling was how information was learned and passed down from generation to generation. Not only do stories help us process and remember information, but they also imbue knowledge with meaning. When you were a kid, for instance, did you remember the thousand times someone told you not to do something or the legend of the kid that did that ill-advised task?

Toward the end of the day we played Mark Franklin’s board game Who You Are Matters!, which uses storytelling techniques to promote better career conversations. The game helps participants discover and articulate who they are and what’s important to them within their organization, thus enabling greater clarity about strengths, preferences, assets, goals and career paths. Storytelling tools like this can spark significant conversations, support teambuilding, and help employees and managers prepare for more productive career conversations.

Without a doubt, storytelling is a skill worth acquiring as a leader.

While there are many new ways of learning, we’ve just experimented with a few. As we build out the program for all of our upcoming events, we invite you to share any bold, innovative ideas you might have. Challenge us: we’re always looking for exciting, new ways to learn.

Please send your ideas to editorial@yourworkplace.ca.

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