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How To Get Learners To Pay Attention

Harvard Business Review’s recent article “How to Get People to Pay Attention During Corporate Training” maintains that “precious little time or money is spent on preparing and enabling the mind of the learner” resulting in potential loss of investment – in a $160 billion yearly investment.

Bottom line: “if the learner doesn’t have the ‘in-the-moment’ mental capacity to pay attention, these investments aren’t paying off.”

So, HBR recommends starting with teaching all professionals MINDFULNESS. 

From HBR: “Mindfulness training has been shown to improve cognitive functions, including attention, memory, and executive function. All of these traits are critical for learning. Learning to manage attention is at the very core of mindfulness. But not all employees have the time — or the desire — to start a mindfulness program. So it’s up to development professionals to bring mindfulness into their classroom experiences.”

HBR recommends the following:

  • Create a conducive environment for learning: This highly practical step deals with everything from the environment and healthy snacks.
  • Minimize all distractions: This one involves getting learners to commit to turning off all devices and putting away all distracting objects.
  • Start each new learning segment with two minutes of mindfulness: This step is all about clearing mental clutter at the beginning of each new session and in between each learning segment. 
  • Take mindful breaks: This last step is probably the most important. Breaks should not be used to check notifications, Social Media, emails, and other distracting work that create more mind-clutter. Breaks should be encouraged to be mindful, such as a walk outside, journaling, and reflection.

In Edvance360, the “mindful minutes” can be built into the lesson. Try inserting a 2-minute video of ocean waves or calming music at the beginning of each lesson and before tests. Consider linking to the Journal tool or blog tool in Edvance360 to have learners take a moment to journal and reflect. Alternatively, link to the course wiki or discussions to have them share something (related to the content or unrelated). 

Remember: As HBR says, “if the learner doesn’t have the ‘in-the-moment’ mental capacity to pay attention, these investments aren’t paying off.” Mindfulness is the key to making sure it does pay off.