Every trainer should know this #1 learning roadblock and how to overcome it to drive user adoption

Every trainer should know this #1 learning roadblock and how to overcome it to drive user adoption

Have you ever heard of the info dump or death by PowerPoint? Let me explain.

Imagine you have a stack of information that you need to teach to a group of learners, all of which have unique backgrounds, competencies, and perspectives. What would you do?

One of the biggest mistakes trainers make is dumping the information of the learners (often through slides), hoping it'll sink in, and saying that their work is done.

Don't do this. This is the Info Dump, and it doesn't work, particularly when it comes to learning new tools. Let me tell you why.

Understanding The Biggest Roadblock to Learning Something New

Simply put, the biggest roadblock to learning something new is negative emotions, feelings like confusion, frustration, boredom, and anxiety.

Can you relate? Have you ever been in a training session where you've felt completely lost and insecure? It's very difficult to learn something new while in that sort of emotional state.

So, where do these negative emotions come from?
Researchers understand that as the learner's self-image as a capable person is challenged by a topic the learner isn't skilled in, unpleasant feelings called edge emotions start creeping up. These negative feelings are trying to protect the learner's self-image. (Halverson&Graham 2019, Mälkki 2019.)

The info dump is one of the best ways to cultivate negative emotions. If you try to dump your big pile of dry information on the learners, many with get bored, frustrated, and anxious. And many will walk away with little-to-no clues about how to use the software.

There's good news though. While trainers can't affect things like prior knowledge or attitudes to technology, we can affect their emotional and cognitive energy with the way we present the information, and soften those emotional roadblocks.

How Trainers can Eliminate Learning Roadblocks

So the question is how do you take dry, intimidating information, and make it interesting.

Here's how we at M-Files approach training from multiple angles:

1). Learning by doing.

This is the most important tip I can offer you.

For anything that you want to learn, albeit play a new instrument, rock climbing, or cooking, somehow learning has to come out of the mind as theory and into the body as action. Learning by doing comes naturally to all of us regardless of age. That's why our training offers equal parts theory and hands-on exercises. Even our eLearning materials feature interactive software demos that give people a chance to practice what they learned, which helps them retain the information.

And remember how I mentioned those edge emotions earlier? While doing interactive exercises, the learner feels like a capable person, without getting overwhelmed by the gap between their current skill level and the expected learning outcome. This empowers the learner and that's precisely the emotion you want to build in these trainings.

2).  Emotions

It's all about what you can do to build positive emotions about what you're teaching.

At M-Files, we think about this a lot with our eLearning materials, not just our face-to-face trainings. To sound science-y for a moment, human brains process audiovisual cues extremely fast, and as social creatures, we unconsciously relate to other people and people-shaped images. Our courses have a friendly, casual narrator and small visuals that support learning and chip away those negative feelings and make the learner feel more comfortable. (If you want to learn more about how you can build emotionally-engaging visuals, check out this post here).

3). Recaps and repetition

As the ancient Romans said, repetitio est mater studiorum; repetition is the mother of learning. Recapping and repeating are great ways to reinforce learning, so that the learner is better able to take away the most important lessons. For instance, in our eLearning materials, we use quick and easy recap quizzes to help people retain the information.

You might be thinking, how does it work? The answer is, as the learner applies what they learned to practice, the information gets processed in their brain and leaves a stronger impact, which makes it easier to remember the information later.

User Adoption starts with positive learning experiences.

If a trainer can succeed in cultivating positive emotions about a tool or new product, then user adoption is much easier.

Now you know some of our top tips for how to make that stack of dry information sneak into learners' minds [You can see these tips put into practice in our new User course at the M-Files Academy].

If you liked this, then you'll love my article about engaging visuals and scalable learning materials