One thing that I keep coming back to is the power of modelling. When I think of professional sports people and teams, they always have coaches that help to model good practice and act at a mirror to bounce off new techniques and ideas. When I think of all the times when I’m trying to learn something new, say how a new computer program works or some equipment, nine times out of ten gravitate towards Youtube or other video based platforms so that I can watch what is being done and listen to the instruction or information. And when I reflect on professional learning, whether board training or leadership, most of the materials are written text. Don’t get me wrong, the educational literature has tons of incredibly insightful information, but what use is it if it is never read? And to take it a step further there is the issue of having to decode language. What the author thinks they are saying should match how I interpret the text, but we all know that there can be a chasm between these two. How many times have you read a book and then watched a movie of the book and thought to yourself that the picture you had built was totally different to what was in the film. Ok, no big deal with a movie, but when it comes to learning a new skill – surely you want to make sure that “what I thought you said” matches with “what I think I heard.” And that’s where the power of modelling comes in. If you can watch the same movie, or the same scene from a meeting, then you are both seeing and hearing exactly the same information and therefore any conclusions or assumptions are being built from the same common platform.
Over the past twenty years, as a generalisation of course, the world has changed immensely through the widespread access to technology. Access to information through the internet has advantages but we are also overloaded with information. Take a step back and look at how social media platforms have become the main resource for so many people, and with it comes a certain gamification of data. Some platforms are driven by “likes” while others have a constant scrolling of new posts where the process of scrolling has the same neural triggers as pulling on the slot machine arm. Twitter and Tiktok exemplify the craving for really concise content while other platforms use swipe left/right as ways to filter and allows AI engines to decide for you the content that you might like. The bottom line is that as a whole we are becoming more impatient as learners – we are not so keen to sit and read a book over the course of a week, but would prefer to get the highlights.
Given the power of modelling and the ways in which technology and media use is accelerating, we have been using sophisticated animation software to create scenes for modelling purposes. So for example when I was a rookie teacher, I knew of a female colleague that had an amazing reputation for being able to speak to the students, particularly those difficult teenagers. Talking about the strategies she used to calm or convince them is one thing, but I would have given my right arm to watch, listen and learn. The same is true for difficult meetings with parents or running a board meeting. Now, with the power of technology we can create and model these scenarios so that you can listen, watch and reflect on the different strategies being employed. Exciting stuff!