LearningWare interiews Bob Pike

Lou Russell: “Intelligent” Game Shows

An interview with Lou Russell, the President of Russell Martin and Associates
Author of The Accelerated Learning Fieldbook: Making the Instructional Process Fast, Flexible, and Fun and Training Triage.
LearningWare: What is Accelerated Learning?

Russell: Experts use different definitions, but the one I use in my book is this: "Accelerated Learning is quickly creating learning that is of benefit to the business, with long-term retention, by honoring the different learning preferences of each individual."

LearningWare: How is Accelerated Learning different from traditional corporate training?

Russell: Traditional corporate training is - from the student's perspective - a passive, unemotional process that is predominantly linear. It is highly structured, focusing on 'knowing about' something by memorizing facts. Accelerated Learning is active learning that engages the student at an emotional level. In an Accelerated Learning process, a student learns how to do something instead of just learning about something, so students find the learning to be fun and almost effortless.

LearningWare: What do you mean by 'honoring the different learning preferences of each individual'?

Russell: What is fundamental about Accelerated Learning is that it honors the diverse needs of each learner. Each learner has an intake preference - visual, auditory, or kinesthetic - for learning new information, so effective training has to cross all these preferences and connect with everyone. Students need to see it, feel it, and hear it in order to get it. Adjusting training programs to appeal to all 7 intelligences is the best way to appeal to all 3 intake preferences.

LearningWare: What are the 7 intelligences?

Russell: The 7 intelligences are from the research of Howard Gardner at Harvard in the mid-80's, from which we learned that intelligence is capable of being nurtured and grown; it is not entirely genetic or fixed at birth. These are Gardner's original 7 intelligences: Interpersonal, Logical/Mathematical, Spatial/Visual, Musical, Linguistic/Verbal, Intrapersonal and Bodily/Kinesthetic I describe each of these in my book, and we will cover the Multiple Intelligences in detail at Training 2002, but the basic idea is this: Intelligence is not limited to the verbal/linguistic and logical/mathematical aptitudes measured by IQ tests. Intelligence is much more complex and diverse than that. As a result, it is important in an Accelerated Learning program to map to all 7 intelligences, and, since the 7 intelligences "cover" all 3 intake preferences, all learners' needs are honored in the process.

LearningWare: How, for example, would a TV-style game show for the classroom coincide with the 7 intelligences?

Russell: That's easy...
  • For Interpersonal Intelligence, we play in teams. It is less threatening.
  • For Linguistic/Verbal, we have the words and phrases of the questions and answers. They are spoken, too.
  • For Spatial/Visual, we have the images on the screen, along with media.
  • For Logical/Mathematical, we have the structure of a game, with rules and a strategy for winning.
  • For Musical Intelligence, we have sound and musical sequences.
  • For Intrapersonal, we have people thinking on their own, even when it is not their turn. They do this unconsciously.
  • For Bodily/Kinesthetic, we have game buzzers and movement. All of this leads to emotional involvement, which leads to remembering.

LearningWare: You mentioned competition. Does classroom competition interfere with learning?

Russell: Not if you do it correctly. Competition is built into the corporate environment, and it is in some people's very nature. So, trying to have a class without it would not be relevant, and without relevance, learning content would not be retrieved as effectively, if at all. Context is stored in the brain with content, and competition creates a richer context that is more similar to the world they are in, so it is more relevant. I think the real issue here is safety. When a learner is threatened, the reptilian brain is engaged, and nothing can be stored in memory. Training bounces off a closed gate, so to speak. It's important, then, to keep the competition safe, silly, and fun, for example, by playing in teams.

LearningWare: So, you use games in your work?

Russell: Absolutely! We try to use games in every single thing we do, whether we are doing training, facilitation, strategic planning, you name it! Competition makes the training process an engaging process, and content that is engaging is highly remembered.

LearningWare: But given our current economic and political environment, should we be more serious and play fewer games?

Russell: No way! The more emphasis there is on being practical and on getting a better ROI for each training dollar, the more important it is to focus on learning strategies that work. And games work. Now more than ever, it's time to get serious about playing games!