Written: by JP Midgley, CEO of Avalon
I do almost everything digitally—I get my news on my phone, I use email for 90% of my communication, I keep up with friends and family on social media. This digital world has contributed to extremely short attention spans and extreme multi-tasking. I can’t tell you how often I’m watching my favorite TV show and scrolling through LinkedIn at the same time. I am a music nut and I can barely make it all the way through a whole song before I am itching to start another song. I’m not saying this digital age is bad—in fact, I love it! However, when I need to slow down, pay attention, and let something soak in, I pretend like its 1980 and go analog.
I’m sure you’ve heard people say that they are visual learners, or audio learners, or whatever learners—the point is: People learn in all different ways and we need to take multiple angles when we want to impact the largest percentage of the target audience. We have a wikipage at Avalon with hundreds, if not thousands, of standard operating procedures, training materials, videos, and guides—and I don’t have the slightest idea how to access it.
This is far from a knock on the team that has spent years building and maintaining the site; in fact, when I see it, I’m very impressed. Many of our team members access our digital training and resources page every single day, but not all of us. So what do we do, just force everyone to learn digitally? That would be short sighted. We provide training in multiple mediums—online, in person, and with a good old hardcopy training manual.
Google it. Go ahead. Type in something like “people learn better from hardcopy” and read a few of the articles and research done on the topic; there is plenty of support for hardcopy when it comes to providing the best learning for your teams. Here are a couple great articles I read quickly (yes I just skimmed them like I always do on a computer):
- Screen vs. paper: what is the difference for reading and learning?
- Why reading and writing on paper can be better for your brain
Many articles reference studies that even show that 92% of the subjects preferred hardcopy to digital when reading. That’s not even close really.
How about a glorious binder, maybe even with well thought out tabs to help me quickly navigate. Words on paper, charts, and graphs—all the things that help me learn at my own pace. I can skim sections or slow down and re-read sections when they seem like I need them to sink in. I can even throw a star next to a section or highlight important passages—all the things that are more difficult and time consuming to do digitally. When done well, these materials can be picked up and can provide value in seconds; I can walk with it down the hall to discuss sections with my co-workers or drop off on someone’s desk.
Don’t get me wrong, online modules and the digital world is certainly a great way to provide access to knowledge and training, but there is real power in going back in time and providing resources and training to people in a way that allows them to see it, hold it, and let it soak in.
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