Relevance Can Make Learning Stick

Stickiness as identified by Malcolm Gladwell has become an inherent part of our 21st century vocabulary. The Heath brothers in Made to Stick explore why some ideas stick and others do not. With ideas, products, issues, and more swirling around us constantly, what does stick and
even grow?

In learning, there is one facet that certainly can enhance the “stickiness factor:” relevance. Whether you are providing required training on new company policies or teaching math to eighth graders, part of the learning/teaching ying/yang is seeking relevance.

Searching for relevance is an individual journey for each learner because of personal experiences, memories, interests. One key role of the instructor, whether f2f or online, is offering multiple ways for the participant learner to attach relevance. Maybe relevance is achieved through interactions with peers: small groups, tweeting to hashtag, online community chat. Students need to analyze content from all angles — like turning over a rock, rinsing it in the stream, holding it up to the light, comparing to other stones, leaving no stone unturned.

In planning your next webinar, online course, f2f workshop or classroom lesson, set the stage for relevance. Think of ways the content is or could be relevant to your audience. Share these examples. Set aside time for participants to explore ways in which the learning will apply to their work or lives.

Content relevance can create meaning.  Ideas that are relevant especially on multiple levels have greater chances of sticking and making a difference. Is your professional development or training program relevant? Is it sticky?