Dave Kelly has let me in on a secret. “I’ll tell you one of the things I love about my job – finding a shiny new object, often in AR or VR, and being able to justify buying it by calling it ‘research’. I have a lot of research things at my house!”
As executive vice-president of the The Learning Guild, Dave has the perfect excuse to feed his curiosity – and his shopping habit. “When it comes to learning trends, I am very engaged in the conversations around AR and VR, and the opportunities they present for L&D. These are powerful tools. They’ll enable us to solve problems we haven’t been able to solve before.”
Such as? “Training for jobs that are literally life and death, like firefighting. The opportunity to practice those skills in a safe environment is extremely powerful, and VR can create those experiences in ways that just looking at a static screen can’t.”
In search of L&D’s magic bullet
Despite this, Dave won’t be nominating VR as his top learning trend for L&D. “People in our field are always looking at new and emerging technology as if it’s the magic bullet or, to use my geeky Lord of The Rings reference, ‘the one tool that’s going to rule them all’. And that’s not what VR is. It’s just another tool in the belt; extremely powerful but with a narrow use case.”
Unlike evidence-based learning – a cause for which Dave is keen to wave the flag. “I don’t think we do it enough,” he says. “Too many decisions in our industry are made on the basis that ‘it feels right’ or ‘it seems logical’. But is it evidence-based? Is there research to back up what you’re doing? People act on how it feels rather than what the research is telling them, and that leads to bad practice.”
“Too many decisions in our industry are made on the basis that ‘it feels right’. But is it evidence-based?”
Although he confesses that evidence-based learning can be a challenge to champion. “Not everybody has the interest or the stamina to wade through a neuroscientific research paper. It’s a hard read for a lot of people, me included. The information should be distilled into something that’s easier to digest and, more importantly, easier to put into practice,” he says.
Dave, we couldn’t agree more! At Stellar Labs, we go to great lengths to unpick the background behind the neuroscientific findings that form the basis of our programmes. We ask who’s done the research, what was on their agenda at the time, and whether the proper research methodology and statistical analysis was used to arrive at the conclusion. We get right under the hood of evidence-based learning. That way, we can be confident our programmes set participants on the path to sustainable change and improvement.
What’s on Dave’s learning bucket list?
Speaking of improvement, what’s on Dave’s learning bucket list? “I’d like to master another language. To become really fluent, I’d immerse myself in it and learn by doing,” he says. It’s a method we fully embrace in our Labs. We’ve found that immersive learning, along with regular repetition and the chance to practice new skills in the workplace or other real-life environments, is the fastest way to effective learning transfer.
So which language is Dave keen to learn? “Spanish would be the most useful for me. It’s probably the second most common language around where I live in New York, so I’d be able to interact with native speakers and get plenty of practice.”
That resonates with me. I lived in Spain for a few years and hearing it spoken every day certainly helped my language skills. Hopefully, it won’t be too long before I can say “Hola” to Dave again for another chat about livin’ la vida learning!
Tools To Start Thinking Differently
If you want to change the way things are done, but just don’t know where to start – we have you covered. Our curated collection of resources including podcasts, a whitepaper and more will help you start to understand how to affect real change in your organisation through the science of learning. Download the collection now.