What’s the Secret Ingredient to Learning? …Context

In today’s fast-paced world, learners often prefer to look up information as they need it, instead of spending time to truly understand a topic. However, this approach often leaves learners relying on inaccurate information or trying to understand information without the proper context. However, context is the key to absorbing new information. It creates a framework that allows learners to absorb new concepts and use information in a way that adds value.

For learners to effectively use new information, they must have a foundational knowledge of the topic (i.e., context). After all, what use is information without context? When learners start with a solid understanding of a subject area, they can use reliable information sources to expand their knowledge and build expertise. This allows them to put new information into perspective and add value to their organization.

Did you know that the human brain can consciously process 120 bits of information per second? But what if I told you that the unconscious brain processes millions of bits of information per second. All of the sudden 120 bits per second doesn’t sound as impressive…that’s why we need context!

Accuracy Drives Context

Learners have access to more information today than ever before. However, much of this information is inaccurate! To be effective, learners must have access to the right information, both in formal learning and informal information resources. However, learners cannot determine the accuracy and validity of information without context, and to gain context they must first have knowledge of the subject area.

Context Requires Knowledge

Building a solid foundation of knowledge through formal learning helps learners put new information into context.

Take industry knowledge for example. By first gaining a foundational understanding of an industry through interactive and engaging training learners can then…

…employ support tools to stay up-to-date on industry information and build knowledge that they can then…

…apply to more complex industry information, such as analyzing the impact of current trends on the industry.

Knowledge Builds Value

A key to building value is subject matter expertise. It takes time to become an expert, but in order to do that, learners need individualized learning and accessible support tools. Creating learning solutions that can be tailored to the individual allows the learner to expand their knowledge by focusing on what matters most to them. Designing learning that is decision-driven, accessible and relevant ensures learners understand information, so they can build subject matter expertise, and apply it as needed to add value.

The Common Denominator is Context

Context is the secret ingredient to learning. The key to successful learning is to properly blend training with performance support tools to ensure learners have the building blocks they need to put information into context, develop expertise and demonstrate value.

What are your thoughts?

Please share your thoughts on the importance of context.  I’d love to hear from you!

About the Author

Jill Gualtieri is a partner at Performance Solutions International (PSI) and has spent 25 years providing training and consulting services for the financial services, technology and health care industries. LinkedIn

Performance Solutions International (PSI)

PSI is the leading provider of industry-focused performance improvement services that empower your professionals with the knowledge, skills and tools they need to succeed in today’s highly competitive environment.