As you get older your brain becomes less pliable and the ability for the neurons to make fresh connections that much harder. In his excellent book “Rewire Your Brain”, by John B. Arden, he says that our brains are not hardwired as we have come to believe, but are rather ”soft-wired” by experience.
Arden goes on to say that neuroscientific research now tells us that our brains are actually quite plastic and that our thought processes and learning ability can be modified by experiences throughout our lives. Researchers have discovered that the birth of new neurons (neurogenesis) allows us to create new memories and to rewire our brains.
So to the point of teaching old dogs new tricks (more specifically new marketing tricks). Can this be done and what are the most appropriate and successful methods of teaching and learning for adults in the working world?
When an event has some degree of emotional appeal or involvement it is more likely to be remembered. This is not only due to higher levels of arousal but through the release of dopamine, the pleasure chemical. The more dopamine we release, the more powerful the emotional response and subsequent memory of the event.
One of the key tenets of adult learning is the element of experience. What we hear we forget; what we see we remember; what we do we understand. As children we learned through the lecture method, but research has clearly shown that adults learn more effectively and retain more information though experiential learning activities such as case studies and group projects.
I was recently part of an evaluation panel for a new business degree to be offered by a local university, the Bachelor of Applied Management. The cornerstone of the new degree is a six month internship where students are required to work in a real industry setting in order to gain work experience and practical insights into their chosen field. The inclusion of a significant experiential component in this new degree illustrates just how the world of business education is being transformed. The days of having an academic qualification but no practical experience are over.
In our own new start-up venture, MarketingBrainiacs.com we have embraced the concept of case study-based learning in groups that has a deep experiential component. Our target market is mainly adults that have been engaged in the workforce for a number of years, thus enabling us to blend theory and practice with past business experience.
The results of the effectiveness of our Smart Marketing Bootcamps™ are becoming quite evident as our participants give us feedback on their new-found capability to develop and manage their own marketing strategies. Comments like these give us confidence that our adult learning model works…
“The bootcamp made me feel that ‘unleashing my marketing genius’ is actually quite achievable.”
“I learned as much in these two days of accelerated learning as I did in a year at university.”
“I gained a very clear understanding of an effective process for developing a marketing strategy for our own organisation.”
“I think that we all left the workshop with a fresh mindset and thinking in a different way to how we previously did.”