3 Ways to Engage Learners in Innovative Thinking

Innovation happens when different ideas and different ways of seeing things combine to create a new, larger perspective.  I am happily immersing myself in all things new while on holiday in Europe with my just-graduated-from-high-school daughter, Madison. I am amazed at how many ideas come forth when we get out of our grind and take time to just “be.”

How can we create more opportunities for ideas, insights and “aha’s” to show up in the 4MAT learning experiences we create?

  1. Get a conversation going. Unhurried dialogue about the big and small are often a trigger for some of the best insights. How can you mimic the magic of a sidewalk table for two, cappuccinos and the luxury of real conversation? Allow learners to get into dialogue. Trust the process — ask THE right question and let it do the heavy lifting. Spend time crafting powerful questions that will stimulate the thinking of the group.
  2. Reflect.  Why do our best ideas come in the shower? For the brain alpha waves to get rolling, we need to relax and to stop thinking about the problem we are trying to solve. Individual reflection, journaling, a walk in nature or a switching of gears are all ways to encourage the arrival of a new idea. My three most favorite and impactful learning experiences all involved these elements. If you can’t get outside of four walls, think about pre- and post-learning reflection exercises which stimulate the brain.
  3. Stimulate with the novel. Our brains are attracted to all things new. New languages (or words), images that we haven’t seen before and the unpredictable all make our brains kick into gear and pay attention. Get away from the predictability of Powerpoint® and systematically include the unpredictable in the learning experiences you design.
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About Jeanine ONeill-Blackwell

As the President/CEO of 4MAT 4Business, a consultant group that delivers learning solutions to organizations, Jeanine O'Neill-Blackwell is passionate about education. Jeanine's belief that “the company that learns the fastest, grows the fastest” has guided her career. She is also a partner in a school management company that leads one of the largest networks of Aveda cosmetology schools in the world. Her background includes 15 years in sales and distribution, serving as a Sales Trainer, Corporate Trainer, VP of Human Resources and President of a corporate university. At the top of Jeanine's credentials is her role as life-long student. She has recently co-authored with Bernice McCarthy, 4MAT: 8Steps to Designing and Delivering Effective Training.

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