Rules of Accelerated Learning, #5: Signal Strength

light bulb signal strength accelerated learning language hunting

A-ha! (image CC Aldo Cavini Benedetti)

This is part of an ongoing series on the fundamental rules or “patterns” of accelerated learning. Each rule is very contextual; these are not silver bullets or cure-alls.

Rule #5: SIGNAL STRENGTH

When you are trying to transfer a competency to another learner, or gain it yourself…

It’s easy to overlook how much amibiguity, guessing, hesitations, confusion, and trickery slows down or derails the learning process.

  • Many learners belong to cultures which, in spite of evidence to the contrary, assume that the more challenging the learning environment, the better the learning.
  • The human brain is designed to appoint part of its capacity to unconsciously filter or de-emphasize environmental “noise” experienced by all 5 senses, but these parts of the brain are then unavailable for learning.
  • The stronger and clearer a signal, the less brain work required to receive it, the more brainpower left to interpret and absorb it (this phenomenon is known as “signal to noise”.)
  • Iconic, vivid, physicalized communication is stronger than generalized, flat, representative (written, drawn, etc.) communication.
  • Culture and language strongly influence what a learner pays attention to and cares about.
  • Learners exhibit fairly clear body language when they feel confused or disengaged.
Therefore, boost SIGNAL STRENGTH in all learning environments.
  • Prioritize the highest degree of iconic, vivid, physicalized communication whenever possible.
  • Reduce or remove visual (distracting colors, patterns, movement), auditory (electronic hums, extraneous conversations, white noise), kinesthetic (uncomfortable furniture, cold, heat) and other “noise”.
  • Adjust your DESIGNED ENVIRONMENT to not just accomodate, but take advantage of cultural values and ways of thinking.
  • Adjust the learning environment, from moment to moment, in accord with the engagement of the learners by reading their body language and facial expressions.
There are contraints in every environment. For example, in a high-school classroom, the available furniture may be uncomfortable; the lighting glaring; the heating system loudly humming; students may be shy and exhibit a “flat affect” in general. Simply pay attention to SIGNAL STRENGTH and make the best of every situation, as allowed by the constraints. Even one tiny change can make a difference (KAIZEN).

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