Project management header
products page

The pace of learning part 1

Technology change

As technology changes, the need for more information and the processing of more information is always on the increase.
No company can exist now without the use of computer technology in some format.
Either as computer networks or at the heart of machinery.

Computers have made many jobs easier, more reliable and faster and for the most part reducing costs on the way.
This extra pace of activity is a reflection of wanting things faster, to higher quality standards and cheaper.

Although computers are all pervasive in organisations they can’t run companies by themselves.
The need for people and establishing good behaviour practices will always be there.
There is increased motivation for people to demand information faster and to process it faster.

Overall, as technology increases the rate of learning tries to keep pace. This in itself can cause problems.

No sooner has one task process been established than another, improved process takes its place.
This may happen before an operator has reached maximum efficiency in the original process.
This need to continually assimilate new and larger amounts of data and be able to keep abreast of change is one of the key areas to master. Those that can do this best will have an advantage.

Positive reinforcement

Technology change has been most evident with the introduction of computer gaming.
Whether it is on a desktop computer, laptop or a dedicated games console the rapid increase in usage is down to the fact that the users enjoy them. Their learning experience is maintained and accelerated by being constantly reinforced during the game.

This positive reinforcement comes in many guises, for example, a continuous scoring assessment directly measuring performance, specific pieces of action, novel sound effects and peer recognition of achievements to name just a few.
In these instances, positive reinforcement may be given 30, 40 or more times per minute.
Under these conditions it’s no wonder young people enjoy them so much and find it hard to stop playing.

On the face of it just sitting in front of a screen and pressing buttons may seem tedious in terms of a job description but works here owing to the high rate of positive reinforcement.
If all jobs could be broken down into smaller processes which could be reinforced much more frequently then the enjoyment level would rise and so would performance.

Rate of change

The rate of change of learning and behaviour is most apparent in young people.
Their attitudes are crafted by the reinforcements they see around them all the time.

The rate of increase in technology has fuelled the ‘want it faster’ attitude.
This is hardly surprising as young people are nearly always at the forefront of technological change.
Hence, their easy acceptance of the technology around them is reinforced rapidly from all areas, none more so than in computer games where distraction is often impossible.

This exposure to an ever increasing pace of technology develops behaviours the older generation is just not use to.
However, even older persons are immersed in technology change and begin to wish for things faster and better.

It has become much more common place for young people to change jobs on a regular basis which was unheard of by the older generation.
It is known that money is not a prime motivation for working.
If you said you would pay people for sitting on a stool all day, literally doing nothing, no one would last very long.
If you provide the right amount of positive reinforcement people will stay longer in one location, without it they will certainly look elsewhere faster or lower their performance levels.

Young people get a lot of positive reinforcement from computer games and it would be ideal to get the same levels of positive reinforcement in the workplace.

Try for very high levels of positive reinforcement.
When you play a computer game you always know exactly where you are, everything is measured against your own performances and that of your peers. In this way, you can quickly see your own progress and receive positive reinforcement.

Therefore, find opportunities to measure performance and record it, for example, graphically.
Use computers to provide feedback where appropriate.

Make your results visible so that there will be plenty of opportunity for social reinforcement.
Managers should always look for opportunities for social reinforcement of good performance to give a lead to those performing less well.

If you provide rewards make sure they are tailored to the performance of the individual.