Future of learning blog

Will Ger Driesen invite you to dinner?

Ger Driesen & Stella Collins

Learning Innovation Leader Ger Driesen from aNewSpring shared his wisdom on technology and learning at a Learning Technologies event hosted in London. In an interview with Stellar Labs, he shared some of his insights on why we need to listen, the value of uniting formal and work-based learning, the importance of maintaining a holistic view in both technology and learning and who would make the guest list at his dinner party.

Why We Need to Listen

Throughout his career, Ger has experienced many moments that made him pause and reflect on some of his practices and methods. One such moment came during a communication workshop. Before a coffee break, he let the class know he would take videos of them after the break. One of the students told him, “I’m sorry, I don’t do video.” Ger, sure that he could convince the student to participate, encouraged him to be open to the video session, citing it as an effective tool for learning.

At the end of the break, the participant approached Ger. Insisting more emphatically that “I don’t do video.”

When Ger asked him to explain why he was shocked by the reply. “I have been a prisoner of war and I was captured somewhere for 10 days with a video pointed at me on one side and a Kalashnikov at the other. So, I’m not sure how I react if you put me on video. So, please be aware of that.”

Ger was humbled by the experience which exemplified the importance of listening instead of assuming you know the reason behind people’s statements. “I was arrogant and not listening to the guy.”

Formal or work-based learning

During the Learning Technologies event, Ger overheard students remarking “It’s great – they tell us all kinds of stuff we didn’t learn at university.”

This theme of formal vs work-based learning came up frequently during the event. For example, Bob Mosher, CEO and Chief Learning Evangelist at APPLY Synergies, who attended the event, remarked he was often accused of being against classroom training because so many of his speeches focus on how much you learn when in the flow of work. Bob said, “No, I absolutely love classroom training. It’s fantastic. It’s got a real place. But it’s just a part of the jigsaw. It’s not the whole thing. You can’t do everything with classroom training, and neither can you do everything in the flow of work.”

The Thinkers Who Earn a Dinner Party Invite

When asked whose brain he would like to pick at a dinner party, Ger chose his guests carefully. Ray Kurzweil, American inventor and futurist who Ger dubs an optimist, makes the list alongside Jaron Lanier, the pessimist to Kurzweil’s optimist. The tension between one’s optimism for the future and the other’s pessimism, according to Ger, should make for interesting party banter. Another honored guest would be Robert O. Brinkerhoff, Senior Adviser and Head of Impact and Evaluation at Promote International and co-Director of the Brinkerhoff Evaluation Institute. Ger is a fan of his impact map, which he considers a great tool. Brinkerhoff is an interesting reference in the field of learning and learning impact. Ger, aware of the value of diversity, balanced his dinner table by inviting The Brain Ladies who are an international consultancy of four women with a passion for the brain and learning, including our Stellar Labs’ co-founder Stella Collins. Finally, Mirjam Neelan also earns an invite for her work studying evidence-informed learning and development, about which she recently published a book titled Evidence-Informed Learning Design: Creating Training to Improve Performance.

The Value of the Big Picture

With regards to the theme of evidence-informed learning, Ger say the following. “If we really want to be a good profession, we need to be aware of insights based on evidence and on research. It’s all about learning to create and to organize the best possible learning solutions.”

He cites the problem of sometimes losing the big picture when a new discovery is made. Including the tendency of disregarding other information that could provide a more holistic picture. “So, I think the main challenge is to always try to keep an overview of the different pieces of the puzzle. Ttry to connect them in specific situations, specific contexts and specific challenges that you have. The evidence-informed part should definitely be part of it. Connecting the dots and knowing how to connect the dots in a smart way. I think that’s a very useful idea to move forward.”



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