Training > Fundamentals of Learning and Training

Fundamentals of Learning and Training

From the Abstract to the Concrete

People start with facts at a low (there is a machine; this is a button on the machine) which with enough correct facts evolves to knowledge (this panel controls the horizontal motion) which then (with enough knowledge) translates into understanding and application (I can produce a widget).

The entire purpose of learning and training is application.


The student must be willing to learn. This may not be really obvious, but if the student isn't willing, he won't learn; this has lead to the saying that "you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink."


The student needs to learn in order to apply the knowledge. Learning that assets + liabilities = net worth is useless unless it can be applied to something such as balancing accounts.

Relative Importance

The student must be taught to evaluate the relative importances of various tasks. With no relative importances, the student will give everything the same value; learning every shortcut key in Excel has the same importance as learning how to create a column sum.

Incremental Learning

Learning has to be step-by-step, in increments or gradients. The old adage of "crawl before you walk" is an example of this. A student learns best with the proper gradient; you teach "what is a file" before "opening and closing files."


The jargon or language of an area must be taught. Each industry has specific terms and vocabulary which must be known in order to produce a good product. Each department may then have a set of terms appropriate for its products.

Theory and Practice

You need both the theory and the practice of a field. You study the theory, including the jargon, then practice it with drills. When these are mastered, then you can actually do the task, not just blindly do it from a recipe-style cheat sheet.

Actual Products

Ideally, the student has the actual product available. If he is learning about a computer system, he has a (test) system available. If learning how to operate a drill press, there should be an actual drill press there.

If you can't have the actual product, you need substitutes. The most common could be:

  • Photographs
  • Diagrams
  • Models