We all have those moments that your learning does not seem to connect to the audience, we tend to blame the learners, however it is the learning designer that is to blame. There is a vast amount of academic research available on how we learn … or how we build patterns in our brain … but how can you put all that research into practical use? Let us investigate the triune brain, and how this model helps you to connect to your audience.
The triune brain is a model originally formulated in the 1960s by Paul D. MacLean.
The model takes a simplistic approach on how the brain is layered into three evolutionary layers.
- The first layer or brain 1 is the reptilian brain, a brain part also found in reptiles. Like with reptiles this part of the brain controls the body’s vital functions and is responsible for our survival instincts. Today our Survival Brain takes care of the Fear of Loss.
- The second layer or brain 2 is the limbic system, it supports a variety of functions including emotion, behavior, motivation, … functions not found in reptiles but in mammals. It enables the ability of dogs to bond with humans. This Emotional Brain handles our Hearts Desire.
- The third layer or brain 3 is the the neocortex, the part of the brain involved in higher-order brain functions, typically found in primates. This Thinking Brain is responsible for Facts and Figures.
How does this model translate into building a learning experience that connects to your audience? Make sure that your learning experience respects the 3 layers of the brain.
- Survival Brain, Tackle the Fear of Loss: A threatened learner will shut out the higher brain causing him to act on primitive instinct. Create an open learning environment that does not trigger the survival instinct, make sure the learner has nothing to loose. Do not force learning upon the students as this will create a fight or flight reaction, rendering the learning to zero.
- Emotional Brain, Fullfill the Hearts Desire: Make the students care, what is in it for them? Your learning should start by answering the question why? When you communicate the purpose or cause first, you communicate in a way that drives decision-making and behavior. It literally taps the part of the brain that inspires behavior. Positive emotions will establish patterns faster than repetion.
- Thinking Brain, Provide the Facts and Figures: Once the student feels safe, and convinced on why he is attending the learning, you can start by answering the how and the what.
So connecting to your audience is starting with Why. followed by how and what.