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A New Semester, A Fresh Start Point for Learning!

January 18, 2017

This week marks the start of the spring semester here at Villanova!  Every new semester brings a new opportunity for learning and a fresh starting point.  Thinking about fresh starting points reminds me of one of my favorite Google Re:Work videos by Karen May, VP of People Development at Google.  In her talk, she outlines the four tenets about learning that shape the design and delivery of all learning resources at Google.  A new semester seems like a good time to review these fundamentals about learning and think about how they drive what we do for the rest of the semester.

 

Learning is a Process.

First, Karen tells us that learning is a process and not an event.  Keep this in mind as you head off to your first class.  You cannot simply show up for class, take notes, and leave with the knowledge; learning does not work like that! Sure, the event, the classroom experience, aids in the learning process, but the real learning is happening across the semester, or more likely across your experiences that relate to the subject.  As faculty, it is important to keep this in mind, too.  Our job is not to fill up the minds of our students in one night each week.  As Karen says, “Our job is to think end to end about where motivation gets created, how we create the opportunities for practice, and what the feedback loop is so that we really can get behavior change.”  True learning is when we affect behavior change and thought change in our students.  

“Our job is to think end to end about where motivation gets created, how we create the opportunities for practice, and what the feedback loop is so that we really can get behavior change.”  

--Karen May, VP of People Development at Google

Learning happens in Real Life.

Along those same lines, we have to keep in mind that learning is most likely to happen in real life, and not in our classrooms.  Students take what we share and apply it on the job, in real life.  One of the greatest rewards I have felt as a teacher is hearing a student reflect on their learning and tell me they brought it back to their team.  If the material resonates enough to be shared, learning is taking place.  The great thing about the new semester is it provides one of those “fresh start points” Karen mentions where people might be a bit more open to learning. 

 

Learning is Personal! Learning is Social!

These two go together in my mind!  It is important to remember that we are each responsible for our own learning -- the personal piece -- but we should also be engaging our peers and coworkers in our learning -- the social piece. 

 

Take a few minutes to listen to Karen’s talk!  It is inspiring to hear Google’s approach and commitment to learning and development.  I hope a few of these principles help you at this “fresh start point” this semester!  Happy learning everyone!

 

 

_________________

Bethany J. Adams, MA is an Assistant Director in the Graduate HRD program at Villanova University. Learn more about her here!

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