Why Corporate Learning Solutions Ignore Brain Science and Create Corporate Adoption Gaps

Cognitive and Behavior Systems of Learning

Key Stakeholders: Chief Learning Officers, Chief Human Resource Officers, Learning and Development Directors and Managers, Corporate Trainers, Content and Learning Product Managers

Key Takeaways:

  • Learning & Development (L&D) vendors offer a number of amazing technologies but minimal, if any, scientifically-validated best practices to guide clients on what to use when. This is an oversight and one that can be remedied by leveraging learning science—the marriage of psychology and brain science.
  • Even the vendors beginning to embrace brain science stop at the prefrontal cortex, hippocampus, and medial temporal lobe structures that have evolved for hard skills learning. This is unacceptable as vendors effectively ignore people (aka soft) skills and the emotional aspects of learning that are mediated by different brain regions with distinct processing characteristics.
  • To close the adoption gap in learning technologies, L&D vendors must start to embrace all systems of learning in the brain, and customers must demand better guidance and scientifically-validated best practices.
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The Adoption Gap in Learning & Development: How Learning Science Can Bridge the Divide


Key Stakeholders: Chief Learning Officers, Chief Human Resource Officers, Learning and Development Directors and Managers, Corporate Trainers, Content and Learning Product Managers

Key Takeaways: L&D vendors offer a vast array of innovative functionality and technology for their clients. Unfortunately, clients are overwhelmed by the breadth of offerings and desire guidance on what technology to use when, all in the interest of increasing adoption and the effectiveness of learning. An extensive body of learning science research exists that should be leveraged to provide clients with the much-needed guidance. This approach will reduce the existing adoption gap and improve the performance.

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Will Starbucks Make A $40 Million Training Mistake? The Psychology and Brain Science of Effective Racial Bias Prevention Training

(Editor’s Note: Todd Maddox, Ph.D. has over 200 published articles, 10,000 citings, and $10 million in external research funding in his 25+ years in cognitive psychology. Maddox is available for interviews on this topic at info@amalgaminsights.com)

By now, I am sure you have heard about the incident at a Starbucks in Philadelphia, where two black men were arrested for waiting for a third man inside the store without purchasing any items. Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson issued an immediate apology calling the arrests “reprehensible.” He’s gone further, meeting with the two men in person and apologizing, as well as saying that all U.S. Starbucks will be closed on May 29 for racial-bias education for its employees.

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The Brain Science of Effective Corporate Soft Skills Training

Cognitive and Behavior Systems of Learning

Companies Mentioned: Deloitte, Salesforce, SAP, Cornerstone, Saba, Skillsoft, Fivel, PageUp, PeopleFluent, Talentsoft, Oracle, SilkRoad, IBM, Lumesse, Litmos, D2L, LearnCore, and Lessonly

Soft skills are “people skills”, and they are extremely important in the commercial sector. They involve showing and feeling empathy, embracing diversity, and understanding that we all have biases that we need to be aware of and keep in check. They involve effective interpersonal interactions and real-time communication skills and are relevant at all corporate levels. Whether office staff who interface with clients, office managers who interface with employees and their superiors, or the C-suite who provide the leadership and vision for the company, effective soft skills matter. An individual with strong soft skills can be an effective collaborator, leader, and “good” citizen. They not only know “what” behaviors are appropriate and inappropriate, but they know “how” to generate those behaviors and do so in a highly effective manner.

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Differential Effects of Sleep Deprivation on Hard and Soft Skills Training


Key takeaway: Todd Maddox, Ph.D. uses his background in the psychological and brain science of learning to show how sleep deprivation affects employees’ working memory and executive attention. Both work and training environments should take sleep into consideration in developing high-performance and high-retention environments. Otherwise, sleep deprivation can ruin even the best-designed training environments.

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5 Predictions That Will Transform Corporate Training in 2018

Person participating in virtual reality simulation

At Amalgam Insights, we have been focused on the key 2018 trends that will change our ability to manage technology at scale. Tom Petrocelli provided his key Developer Operations and enterprise collaboration predictions for 2018 in mid-December. To continue that trend, Todd Maddox provides 5 key predictions that will shape enterprise learning in 2018 as markets reach new heights, corporate training embraces new scientific principles, and retention replaces compliance as a key training driver.

  1. VR/AR Enterprise Application Budget to Surpass $1 Billion in 2018
  2. eLearning (Computer-Based Training) Market to Approach $180 billion in 2018
  3. Commercial Training Sector to Embrace Neuroscience of Optimized Learning
  4. Continued Exponential Growth of Artificial Intelligence (AI) as a Driving Force Behind the User Interface (UI)
  5. Training for Retention: The Rule, Not the Exception in 2018
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Dual Learning Systems in the Brain: Implications for Corporate Training

Effective training is critical in all business sectors. In 2017, over $360 billion was spent on training worldwide, with over $160 billion spent in the U.S. alone. Given the ever-changing nature of the corporate landscape, as new technologies are introduced (e.g., AI) or upgraded (e.g., constant software upgrades), and as new challenges arise (e.g., sexual harassment in the workplace) corporate training must evolve to meet the growing need.
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W. Todd Maddox Speaks On Virtual Reality and Sexual Harassment Training in Forbes

Recently, Amalgam Analyst W. Todd Maddox was interviewed on Forbes for his innovative take on the potential use of virtual reality in improving training for sexual harassment

In speaking with CBS News analyst Larry Magid, Maddox points out the experiential and emotional gap in current soft skills and sexual harassment training modules and why unconscious bias is not being tested by traditional training methods.

To learn more and hear Todd’s interview, please click here to visit Forbes.com

How Does myTrailhead Excel and How Can Science Make myTrailhead Even Better

Astro, Einstein, and other Salesforce Trailhead characters
Salesforce’s Trailhead branding is both on-point and adorable.

Key Takeaways:

  • myTrailhead allows customized training content and incorporates useful motivational and performance testing tools.
  • myTrialhead could be enhanced by incorporating scientifically-validated best practices in training, which suggest that hard skills are best trained by a cognitive skill learning system in the brain and soft skills are best trained by a behavioral skill learning system in the brain
  • In its current implementation, myTrailhead is more nearly optimized for hard skill training, but is sub-optimal for soft skills training

Technology is progressing at an accelerating rate. Jobs are constantly being updated or redefined by, and with the help of technology. Employees are constantly being asked to learn new skills whether in the same job or in a new position. Constant training is the rule, not the exception, and training platforms must be built with this in mind.
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