Can your brain run out of space, like a hard drive? In this era of technology and information overload, how do we find the headspace for continuous learning and development? Natasha Egré, Head of Client and Product Development, Marbral Advisory, explains all.
We are living in the era of information overload. Globalisation and the growth of the fast-changing knowledge economy mean that we need to upgrade our skills and learn new technologies, methodologies and expand our abilities at an unprecedented rate.
Our world is changing around us in such a pace that if we do not continue to grow and develop; we will soon be left behind. One of the most valuable skills now is the ability to learn and adapt. But how do we do that when we are already experiencing brain overload? Do our brains even have the capacity to cope with all this new learning?
Luckily, the brain is very efficient. The brain learns that it’s not vital to store everything we experience, read and learn. In essence, it develops its own filing system to save space – we archive, we edit memories down, we generalise, we keep one example of a learning and discard the superfluous, and we use external memory eg: making physical lists.
How many decisions do you make a day?
Have you ever considered how many decisions we make each day? Research sources estimate that we can make up to 35,000 decisions a day. It’s no wonder we’re often unsure whether we have time or ‘headspace’ for anything else. However, the truth is the average adult human brain has the ability to store the equivalent of 2.5 million gigabytes of digital memory (Clinical Neurology Specialists). Theoretically, your storage capacity for long-term memories is endless. So why do you forget things? It could be because your working or short-term memory easily fills to capacity and overloads.
Researchers can count the items people can retain in short-term memory. And it's not a lot – generally three or four. It is only by giving items meaning, and collating them into groups, that we can retain more of them. Essentially, this is the process of learning - turning short-term memories into long-term ones.
We’ve all heard the phrase ‘you can’t teach an old dog new tricks’ but the reality is that your brain has the ability to learn and grow as you age — a process called brain plasticity — but for it to do so, you have to train it on a regular basis.
We live in an era where lifelong learning is essential. We need it to remain competitive and relevant and to spark news ideas and ways of thinking. Learning sharpens the mind, our skills, and enhances our career opportunities. Continuous learning also forms a necessary part in acquiring critical thinking skills and discovering new ways of relating to people from different cultures.
Competence also leads to confidence. Learning new things gives us a feeling of accomplishment, which in turn boosts our confidence in our own capabilities. However, we have to understand our own specific learning style to really get the most out of learning. You may be a visual (spatial) learner, meaning you process primarily in pictures rather than words, or a logical (mathematical) learner, meaning you use reasoning and sequencing to absorb information. Simultaneously, you may be a social (interpersonal learner) or a solitary (interpersonal) learner. Understanding this is key to identifying the best format from which to access your learning.
E-learning has seen a massive influx in popularity in recent years, partly due to the pandemic but also due to the flexibility it affords learners. E-learning enables organisations and learners alike to tailor their training to fit with their specific circumstances. E-learning typically requires 40-60% less employee time than learning the same material in a traditional classroom setting (Brandon-Hall Study). Furthermore, it’s proven to be highly effective. The Research Institute of America found that e-learning increases retention rates by between 15% and 50% compared to face-to-face training. And it’s also good for the bottom line - 42% of companies say that e-learning has led to increased revenue (The Ambient Insight 2012-2017 Worldwide Learning Market – Executive Report).
At Marbral Advisory, we understand that people learn and absorb information in different ways and at different speeds. We believe that when e-learning is coupled with instructor-led training, the combination can bring additional dimensions and really enhance the learning process. We’re constantly looking for new ways to engage both our internal team and our client’s teams in continuous learning, as we know it’s essential to both personal and business growth. We also know that we’re all human and we’ll have days where we’re open to learning and days when we’ll put our keys in the fridge! Understanding both the psychology of human performance and also when someone’s brain just needs a rest, is absolutely key.
Marbral Advisory is a leading Change Management firm. The local company offers change and advisory services and resourcing, plus e-learning and training courses to help clients plan, lead, drive and embed change in their organisations. View their suite of e-learning courses online: www.marbraladvisory.com/elearning or get in touch to discuss tailor-made e-learning for your business: firstname.lastname@example.org