By October 29, 2018

Why HR should focus on metalearning with respect to learning and development

With artificial intelligence slowly creeping into our lives, both personal and professional, one is left wondering how the world of tomorrow is going to look like. One of the ongoing trends in the world of artificial intelligence is to incorporate meta-learning into the algorithms such that the data set learns the rules by itself. Without going into too much technical jargon, what can this mean for the training departments within organizations? Is there scope to incorporate such a concept of “meta-learning” into employees? How can it benefit in the longer run?

As machines started getting programmed to deal with more and more complicated tasks, computer experts realized the need to teach them to multitask – a task at which humans naturally excel. Thus the concept of metalearning was incorporated while designing the algorithms of machines with artificial intelligence. The idea being that intelligent machines would not only be able to perform tasks simultaneously, but also learn by themselves.

Interestingly, the original coinage of the word and concept of metalearning was for humans. It was described by Donald B. Maudsley (1979) as “the process by which learners become aware of and increasingly in control of habits of perception, inquiry, learning, and growth that they have internalized”. The simplest example which most of us would be able to relate to, would be the concept of emotional intelligence. To become an effective leader, one needs to be able to understand what emotions are all about, identify those of people around them, his own emotions and constantly introspect, observe and evaluate these even while he goes about his routine professional work.

Now this concept of metalearning needs to start at the very basic, which is at the step when we accept that we want to learn. Simply put, metalearning is incorporating the concept of introspection into the thinking mindset when it comes to the very approach of learning something new. So each time an organization selects a training programme or shortlists the trainer, or employees by themselves decide to take up something new to learn, it needs them to question the source, validate the authenticity of the data and then take up the learnings with a pinch of salt.

Shared my views on the concept of metalearning at a recent meet of a corporate’s behavioral trainers

My argument for proposing metalearning in today’s era comes from the following observations:

  • The internet is filled with data. If you have a hunch in your mind, and are looking for supporting evidence, you should be able to land on relevant sounding data points pretty easily. Now flip your hunch the other way round, and sure enough the data points you retrieve will be just as relevant! So when it comes to knowing what subjects or trainers to pick and what not, how does one make the choice?
  • Just because material is printed or published on particular portals does not validate the authenticity of the author. Ted talk speakers are quoted; excerpts from portals like Forbes and Linkedin are taken like gospels of God. Do we question the logic of the so called “experts”? I have browsed through works relevant to my subject and found so much lacuna in what is being put up. The same holds true for online courses as well. Can popularity be guarantee of veracity?

So how can one then ensure that employees learn to question concepts they are taught, understand the source of any idea and look for the relevant validations? Is there enough time in their daily lives to give mindspace to such details? Precisely why the onus lies on HR teams to get the right type of trainers who teach the participant groups to apply logic themselves.

We, at Simply Body Talk, have taken up several approaches in this direction. For example, when it comes to understanding the subject of nonverbal communication, our objective during both the personal sessions for senior leaders and those of workshop groups is to ensure we imbibe the “intelligence” into the teams, so that they can take back the learnings of the program and learn to implement it themselves. What this essentially means is, rather than teaching participants about the various different body language signals and what each of them means, we tap into the roots of why human behavior focuses so much on nonverbal, and that is the broad logic of why we behave the way we do using body signals. If post a session any of the participants would come across articles on the subject, they would be able to differentiate the better ones from those that are just noise.

Of course, this is just the start. We are already implementing several other steps in this direction because we understand that having a thoughtful employee base is much more fruitful to any organization than one which just implements given orders. And the way to start this movement is by encouraging one and all to learn to question that they are being taught.

To know more about how we encourage metalearning in our modules, you can get in touch with us on 02267208017.

About the Author:

Khyati Bhatt has trained for mastery in Nonverbal Communication with retired FBI special agent Joe Navarro. She founded Simply Body Talk in 2013 to help individuals and corporates fine tune their nonverbal behavior and nonverbal communication. Khyati believes in taking a scientific approach to body language. Her experience as a wealth manager, currency trader, and family entrepreneur has helped sharpen her nonverbal instincts. She is a fervent reader and has explored the work of many psychologists and anthropologists in her field of work.

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