Posts Tagged ‘continuous learning’

Examples of continuous, collaborative and collective Learning

November 12, 2009

1) Weight Watchers: Peer learning & support to a sustainable change of eating behaviour.
Probably one of most difficult learning endeavours is to change one’s eating behaviour
When Jean Nidetch in 1961 at the age of 38 went on a diet sponsored bz the New York City Department of Health she lost 20 pounds within 10 weeks, but also started to lose her motivation to continue. Only after she realized that what she needed was to talk to someone she had the inspiration to bring the diet program to her friends’ livnig rooms in Queens. They started to loose weith together. These meeting eventually turned into Weight Watchers one of the most widely recognized and effective weight-loss programs.
Reference: Feruzzi, Keith: Who’s got your back

2) Diversity of thinking: Game Show Who Wants to be a Millionaire
In this TV show the contestants are asked multiple choice questions with four answer options. The contestants have three jokers to work with: a) two choices of answers removed b) call a friend c) poll the audience. After analyzing the TV shows polling the audience led to a 91% chance to get the right answer versus calling a friend with 65% chance to get the right answer.
Reference: Surowiecki, James: The Wisdom of Crowds

3) Collective and collaborative informal learning: Interesting Example from Nucor

Summary: One of Nucor’s unit faced quality issues with the parts they produced. Supervisors would
bring this faulty part to the workers responsible and tell them how to improve. No sustainable change was observed, morale was down. The new leader of the unit Ken Iverson instead would collect all the faulty parts and in display those at the center of the foundry. About six weeks later the quality improved as employees had gathered around the parts and discussed among them how to improve the quality. It was a self directed collective and collaborative learning.

Further Reading:

The Fastest Ways To Learn Any New Language


Key Learning from Toastmasters History

September 1, 2009

firstofficialtoastmastersclubThe Best way to share with you my key learning as Toastmasters is by looking at the history of Toastmasters

And I hope the history of Toastmasters will enlighten you to follow your vision – it all started small.

How did all start?

It began with one man who initiated Toastmasters and a few members and now Toastmasters has more than 500 000 members worldwide.

This is Dr. Ralph Smedley who had the idea of Toastmasters. Dr. Smedley was born in 1878 and graduated from Illionois Wesleyan University in Bloomington in 1903.

He became the Educational Director of the YMCA in Bloomington and realized soon that his young men had a need for speech training. And he also learned that with a speaking class, literary or debating society he would not attract them.

He settled on the idea of a social club meeting weekly devoted to practice in short speeches, debates and some work in chairmanship.

The first meeting was held on March, 24 1905. It started of with the dinner which was prepared by the participants and followed by speeches limited to 5 to 6 minutes. The subject was chosen by the speaker. Criticism was given by the older men and a critical discussion among the members, who also expressed their opinion. A rotation of duties for each meeting was established for members taking turns at presiding and speaking.

Very shortly the members noticed a prompt improvement in the speech and as well as in the leadership skills which spelled over into the other clubs at the YMCA

Key Learning’s:
1) Effective Learning is learning by doing and improving through continuous practice and evaluation in a social fun environment.

Why is the official birth date of Toastmasters is October 22, 1924 at the Santa Ana YMCA in California ?


Between Santa Ana and Bloomington Ralph Smedley moved several times to take on duties at other YMCAs. Each time he started a similar club, but as soon as he left, the club died down.

In Santa Ana he was approached by outside people who wanted to start a similar club. This led Ralph Smedley to write a manual on how to organize these kind of social learning events.

Toastmasters started to grow quickly as it was a simple idea put to work in a simple manner.

Key Learning’s:
2.) Easy to use (first principle) – a simple idea, put to work in a simple manner but if you want something to sustain you need to document it for others. Ralph Smedley also realized this when looking back in his biography.















Dr. Ralph in the 1920s

How did the Toastmasters System evolve?

It was only with the Toastmasters club number 15 in Santa Ana that a new feature the so called Table Topics which are impromptu speeches by members were introduced.

A few years later the first competent communicator curriculumn than called speechcraft was introduced.

Key Learning’s:
3.) Once the fundamental principles are there every else will follow. An idea never starts perfect !!!

The future of Toastmasters ?










This is the world headquarters of Toastmasters connecting now over 500 000 members world wide and growing.

When Dr. Smedley was asked why he never turned his idea into a profitable business, he replied: “I would rather be rich in friendship than in money”.

On June 11 we Toastmasters in DOW joined together in a virtual meeting. Most of Toastmasters in DOW realized that we are spending more and more of our time in virtual teams and meetings and therefore see the need to practice virtual communication and leadership and we can all do this by applying the principles laid by the founder of Toastmaster Dr. Ralph Smedly.

The Final Key Learning’s:
4.) Network your way to your dreams and visions and never stop learning and adapting to the changing environment.

Learning is effective when it is learning by doing and improving through continuous practice and evaluation in a social fun environment even if it virtual.

Furhter Reading:

The Fastest Ways To Learn Any New Language

The Benefits of Lifelong Learning and Discovery

April 24, 2009

The Benefits of Lifelong Learning and Discovery
By Julia Barnard

Don’t fear failure so much that you refuse to try new things. The saddest summary of a life contains three descriptions: could have, might have, and should have. Louis E. Boone

Liefelong Learning and Discovery

Liefelong Learning and Discovery

Do you enjoy learning? Is it a pleasure to discover new things, or do you associate the word ‘learning’ with being sat behind a desk at school being fed information you have no control over? Happily, as adults we can choose what we want to learn and the skills we want to develop. Learning should be a lifelong venture that should feature in all stages of your life. Even retirement should be an opportunity to try new things rather than letting it all go because you are no longer doing paid work. Recognising that learning is not just about books can make the process enjoyable for many.

Learning gives you opportunities to discover new skills and acquire knowledge. However, it offers more than that. It is an opportunity to renew your energies, get excited, and curious. As you learn and get absorbed in a new project, you are giving yourself the chance to experience flow which is a sure-fire way to happiness. Learning can help prevent boredom as you have allowed more opportunities to come into your life. Importantly, you will learn things about yourself. As you develop your skills, it may take you to new places and perhaps push you to face your fears. You will learn to not be afraid of change and how to face a challenge.

Love of learning has been identified by Seligman as one of the 24 character strengths. It is a strength that we can all nurture, however for some it is a signature strength and as such is a pleasure to use. Using this strength is also an opportunity to work on and develop other character strengths. For instance learning a new skill requires persistence. It is a chance to be creative and boost a sense of optimism. When you always have new things to try in your life, things you still want to know about, you continue to have something to look forward to.

Learning is also good for your brain. Research indicates that for people who had opportunities to work on their reasoning and memory skills their cognitive decline had slowed down. This reduces the risk of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

It is worth pointing out that it is not just about the act of learning. What you learn can help you live a better life. For instance, knowing how to be happy, healthy and live well. Knowing why exercise is important rather than accepting it as a broad statement made by health experts. Such knowledge gives you more control over your life and helps you make informed decisions.

Tips to propel you on your learning quest

  • Learning can take whatever shape or form works for you. Whether you attend a class, read a book or website or get hands-on is up to you.
  • Don’t be afraid to try new things. If you don’t like it, don’t do it again. Simple.
  • Your learning should always be interesting and a challenge you can manage. You may need to take your learning to the next level to get the most out of it. Try to reflect regularly on how you are progressing.
  • When you are trying something for the first time, it may not work out exactly as you planned. This is okay. You are learning after all. So learn from what went wrong, and go again.
  • Learning can be a great opportunity to exercise your persistence and belief that you will succeed. Imagine how it would feel to become an expert in your area? Persistence and patience will help get you there.
  • Decide what level you want to take your learning to. Is it to expand on your existing knowledge so you become an expert, or is it an opportunity to branch out somewhere completely different?
  • Take a trip to the library. Explore the shelves, especially those you would not ordinarily visit. See what interesting pieces of information you can pick up. You never know, something might pique your interest.
  • Read blogs written by people who are dedicated to your topic of interest. They will offer a unique insight into one person’s perspective on the subject.
  • Keep learning and remain open-minded. Remember the first thing you read may not be correct or the only way to do things. Remain open to other viewpoints.
  • Set yourself a goal of learning something new every day or week.
  • Try to enjoy the here and now of learning, rather than just focusing on the end goal.
  • Learn more about what brings happiness into your life.
  • Grab a puzzle book the next time you are at the newsagents. They give your brain a great workout.
  • Keep it varied. That way you are always interested and your brain is occupied.
  • Don’t be afraid of change or the opportunity to do something differently to how you would normally.

Copyright Julia Barnard 2009

Julia Barnard is a professional counsellor living in Adelaide, Australia. She provides an online counselling service through her website, which offers counselling at a time and place that suits you. Julia also writes articles and tips for the website aimed at enhancing wellbeing and promoting good mental health.

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Recommended Readings:
Medina, John: Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School

The Fastest Ways To Learn Any New Language

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