ARTICLE BY ROB SMALL
“’We do not talk. We bludgeon one another with facts and theories gleaned from cursory readings of newspapers, magazines and digests.’ That was actually written in 1945 by Henry Miller, and… I mean, I think it’s timely, and I think what it says is that the world has been on the present course it’s on for a long time.”
– Charlie Kaufman, speaking at the BAFTA Screenwriting Lecture in 2011 
Until we are completely automated, there will always be a human element. The older generation of workers from all walks of life will have that key component to their work that can’t be replicated by machine. The early introduction of computers sparked fears that our jobs were at risk. It seems to be slowly coming true.
Now we find ourselves at a strange impasse. Technology and mankind mostly coexist. It’ll be a good while yet before any kind of notable shift takes place. We are in an interesting position, teaching workers the new way of doing things, with a pinch of the old.
Our way of learning this information has changed.
Now there is online training available and simulations provided to help train the worker for different situations. If this is provided to us now, one can only try to imagine what it would be like in the future. New virtual reality software gives us a glimpse of the future, giving new opportunities for training scenarios and providing viewpoints not possible in the PowerPoint presentations of the past.
One of our inate beliefs at Acting Up is "to engage with the human element" But the question crops up; what will the future of connecting with people be like? How will we learn new working methods thirty years from now? Will the old fashioned way of doing things still prevail?
A few weeks ago, I attended my old University’s annual degree showcase. It didn’t feel like much time had passed at all since I was in the exact same position as the students there. One display, which had caught the attention of the public, was a giant sandpit that had a projector shining down on it from above. As people moved the sand around inside the box, the projector would map terrain to fit around the sands newfound shape. In other words; a map that adjusted itself to the changing geography. Our brains can be a malleable surface too. Ever changing technology and new ideas coming from the next wave of innovative thinkers show us that standard presentations just don’t cut it anymore. To be engaged, we yearn for more. Training has become a less rigid landscape.
A few years ago at E3 (the worlds biggest games and technology conference), Microsoft announced their ‘hololens’ technology. Essentially a new take on virtual reality hardware, the possibilities it creates for e learning and new training situations are mind-boggling.
But not everyone learns best this way. As we discover while we are in school, everyone has a different learning style. There are four different learning styles, formally categorised as follows:
- Visual learners like to have new information in front of them and images that guide them along the way. These people can now embrace digital learning on the go thanks to the creation of smartphones and tablets, moving adverts and television.
- Auditory learners prefer to listen to new information and find that repeating what they’ve heard tends to help it really stick in the back of your mind. If we review the boom in Podcasts and audio books in recent times, the success of this new medium is clear.
- Kinesthetic learners achieve by doing, their understanding of something really driven home by doing things with their own two hands. A true amalgamation of the three other core styles; kinesthetic learners could benefit from VR, digital e-learning or immersive workshops.
- Those with a reading and writing learning style discover by going by the book (whether it is the traditional method or via e-reader / digital notes)
When we look at this list of the many different ways people can learn, it’s almost insane to think that many businesses, educators and presenters only ever teach with one learning style in mind. You can’t hammer a round peg into a square hole. One approach isn’t going to work for everyone. The same can be said for new virtual reality and many other new methods being introduced in this day and age. You must accommodate for all.
And now I want to throw the question back to you. In what way do you learn best? If you reflect back to all the times you learned new information, new instructions and skills, how did you go about doing it? Do you favour a hands-on approach? Or are you more contemplative? Learning through repetition until the point is really hammered home. What helps you learn?
We live in uncertain times. It’s hard to say what direction businesses will take in the future. In many movies and books, the future is often depicted as dark and dystopian, with robots undertaking every job available. However I hope that future technology will be developed to be an asset rather than a complete replacement. It should still serve to be an aide for those who seek a different way of learning. A branch extending from a growing tree…
In its roots, the human element.
 – Charlie Kaufman BAFTA screenwriters Speech: https://soundcloud.com/bafta/charlie-kaufman-screenwriting-lecture
 - Minecraft Hololens demo at E3 2015 (Kotaku):