An advance of learning

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Written by Barry Johnson on 4 December 2019

Reading time: 2 minutes 30 seconds

What we know from historical evolution is that early humans learned through the satisfaction of hunger, what they could eat, where to find it, and the avoidance of danger.

Then they constructed tools and weapons to satisfy their needs. Then they developed farming.

As you can see, our fundamental learning system was based on action with a subsidy of working memory.

We developed writing. The next revolution came from the ancient philosophers, and Socrates is perhaps the most well-known among them.

He recognised telling was poor learning facilitation, so he stopped presenting, and directly engaged the learners’ brains by causing them to think.

Writing had led to The Good Book with a foundation of religious actions and rules, and that information told people what they were required to remember.

Thought and logic diminished. People could quote The Good Book. Unfortunately, it became the basis of education.

The teacher or instructor is the principal learning facilitator, not just a presenter using words and pictures

Technology arose, which was just a sophisticated presentation but led to distance learning.

I became engaged in distance learning by taking an OU degree in psychology, but an essential element was the basis of our evolution, learning through action and the Socratic approach of using the brain.

Mind you, as with all academic approaches, it was possible to get by on memory, but we need applicable practical learning.

Learning facilitation refers to the pace of learning and the facilitation approach optimised for each learner. According to the US National Education Technology Plan 2017, learning objectives, facilitation approaches, content and sequencing may all vary based on learner needs.

This provides a shared vision and action plan that responds to a needed national priority in education and industrial learning.

This plan emphasises the importance of personalised learning in future education, training and the associated new challenges to assessment.

In recognising this trend, the special issue of Applied Psychological Measurement brings together contributors’ expertise toward advances in psychometrics that facilitate learning.

Learning is what the learner does. The teacher or instructor is the principal learning facilitator, not just a presenter using words and pictures.

Although technology is finally being integrated into the facilitation of learning, its use for teaching and learning remains a challenge.

Even though many schools and training facilities have ready access to technology and trained teachers and trainers, the use of psychometric technology in the classroom is low.



Low levels of technology use in learning are often due to the pedagogical beliefs of teachers and trainers. Learning is different from memorising, but both are interlinked. Because somebody knows does not mean they can do.

There is a recognition that schools, colleges, universities and industrial training facilities need to advance from their current state due to impending changes in the fourth industrial revolution.

It needs time, learning and funding. Have politicians and company boards recognised this?

With that said, the potential of psychological technology to enhance learning must be emphasised. The blockage is facilitation time and cost. Let us not fail through ignorance of best learning practice.


About the author

Barry Johnson BA, CMCIPD, MCMI, is a non-executive director at Learning Partners Ltd.


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