Fast Lane Learning is what is happening now in enlightened training settings. Fast Lane Learning is a structured experience that goes beyond a workshop or classroom and which puts bold and edgy techniques in play. The elements of this paradigm come from traditional best practices mixed with ideas from the world of entertainment, youth culture, theatre and life in a wired-and weird-world.
The pivotal idea: The learner is responsible for navigating and managing their own learning experience. The organization provides, the learner engages. How does this work?
Nine characteristics of Fast Lane Learning:
1. Experience versus event.
Fast Lane Learning involves a mixture of orchestrated experiences-alone, with a partner, a peer group, an expert or with a manager and team in a classroom, online study, team meetings, one-on-one at a workstation, and more. These experiences are spread out over time, perhaps weeks or months beyond the start point, eventually becoming embedded as a part of daily work where skills become part of the learner’s repertoire.
2. Urgency for a necessary and useful deliverable.
From the outset, every learner knows he/she is expected-and under pressure-to produce a basic and simple work product. This outcome helps the learner, his/her team and the organization come closer to achieving real business goals. It is a necessary tool, a bridge to achievement, and essential element of success.
3. Putting learners on edge.
The basic idea is to set the performance deficit between what the learner needs to know and what the learner thinks he/she knows. The awareness of that gap gives most people the motivation to be receptive to new ideas. At the very least, it focuses attention on the learning matter at hand.
Creating mild performance discomfort in the learner-“setting the deficit”-is the way to do that. For example, putting people into an improvised role-play situation at the very beginning of a workshop can be fun and illustrative, especially when the learner struggles with a skill. Making that a “show” in front of a class can really open up some eyes. The point is that without that discomfort, there isn’t a reason to learn.
4. Optimize face time for application activities.
Fast Lane Learning uses the “Flipped Classroom”. Learners study concepts on their own or with others, complete simple assignments, come prepared to a classroom or team meeting and practice by solving problems, creating new approaches, and evaluating cases using their acquired knowledge. The corporate trainer is now a master of ceremonies who presents problems, crowd-sources solutions, refines and clarifies acquired knowledge, structures practice and provides feedback. This is liberating the trainer from lecture mode and making him/her a true teacher. Now there is time for application exercises: simulations, role-plays, case discussion, gaming, projects, and experiential and creative exercises.
5. Fast and focused, less is more.
Today’s learner wants to scan and learn, store for reference and return to bookmarked placeholders. Learners want blog-length, sound bite, check-in, three-minute, YouTube explanations and examples. That means that any online learning has to be layered, so learners can hop up and down an information structure from highlights to details and examples and back up again in any way they like. It also has to be provocative and engaging so that learners don’t flit away from topics. In-person sessions have to be centered on presenting the only tops of the iceberg, “three clear points”, and fast practice limited to twenty-to-thirty minute segments and clear follow-on, simple assignments to develop concepts and then on to the next topic.
6. Proficiency through coaching and on the job practice.
This is what truly distinguishes the Fast Lane Learning. The job setting is the actual learning environment where application practice and proficiency building really takes place. Through follow-on assignments, frequent structured practice and feedback sessions with coaches, peers, managers, experts, or trainers embedded in the work environment, the learner builds confidence as well as competence. The key here is to make on-the-job simple and easy, with a cadre of prepared, well-tooled, and coordinated supporters-not just the manager-, slipping right into the cadence of how work gets done.
7. Improv and “What Ifs.”
Fast Lane Learning uses improvisation for practicing skills with fun. Improvisation is a spontaneous, on-the-fly, off-the-cuff experience, allowing frequent “what-if” scenarios and fast feedback. There’s no striving for perfection, just a lot of practice and discussion of approaches. The learner who practices several times can show they get the basic idea of the skill. Proficiency comes later with practice on the job.
Participants shape the Fast Lane Learning experience. They bring their own examples and problems to solve, decide what’s next and when enough is enough. They can identify what skills need more work and how they will build proficiency. These kinds of choices customize how the learning works for each participant.
Participants who go through a learning experience together already have a tribal identity. Fast Lane Learning leverages that, naming the group, creating forums for after-learning experiences and maintaining relationships. Alumni can become peer coaches for newer learners and each other, they can help reshape content, and they can become instructors or facilitators.
Fast Lane Learning is a networked, cadre-based, organizational approach that goes beyond individual skill development. Everyone learns how to learn together. If you’re thinking, “That kind of stuff can’t happen here”, think again. Fast Lane Learning is in place in organizations that have decided to make training more effective, relevant, engaging, and, yes, useful to the learner.