Innovation Nation
Innovation Nation

Episode · 1 year ago

Learning & Innovation: Tapping Into the Ecosystem of Knowledge w/Dr. Michael Noble


The key to our evolution is our innate ability to learn. That’s what drives us forward. It stimulates human innovation. And curiosity is the engine. So, how can we become more active players in that larger ecosystem of knowledge?

On this episode of Innovation Nation, I talk with Dr. Michael Noble, President - Ameri cas at Area9 Lyceum, about how we can improve the way we learn and stimulate curiosity.

We discuss:

  • The relationship between memory and innovation
  • How to improve learning
  • How to encourage curiosity
  • Breaking out of our knowledge bubbles

Tune in on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wh erever you listen to podcasts.

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Innovation is all around us. In fact, everyone innovates, often unbeknowns to themselves. Many mistakenly assumed the innovation is either a big capital project, a figurative bolt of lightning that brings inspiration, or the province of some exceptionally gifted person. This is the myth of innovation. But you can innovate as well. You're listening to innovation nation, the podcast where top executives and industry experts are sharing their insights on harnessing the power of innovation. We're here to help you stay ahead of the curve by driving your own innovation. Here's your host, Jasmine Martyr Rosen Hi. Welcome to innovation nation, our podcast. Your host is Jasmine March Roustin, and our guest today is Dr Michael Noble, who is the president of area nine, their division in the United States, which is a Danish company. Welcome, Michael. Thank you, Jasmine. I'm excited to be with you guys today. Well, you're enough, have had some very interesting conversations on innovation. Do you mind sharing some of your thoughts on what drives innovation and organizations? Definitely, innovation is one of those things that's fascinated me for a long time, I think you know, I'm in the I've been in the learning industry for over twenty years, and the relationship between, you know, what we learn, right, and getting to a level of expertise where we are innovating. Right, we usually think of learning is learning what already exists, but if you go to the top of something as simple as, you know, blooms taxonomy, right, we're getting up into higher level thinking where we're creating and innovating. So the connection between learning and innovation, you know, I think is a provocative one and that you know, suggest that we all have the potential of innovative behavior in our lives. Excellent, and I know your doctoral dissertation has done quite a bit of work on memory. How does that tie to human ability to innovate?...

So let's say that it's loosely connected, but I want to make I want to show where that kind of red thread is what I was looking at. You know, this English major, you know, was studying mnemonics and memory, theater, memory palaces, right. How has that kind of that Greek kind of tradition of how we remember, how we memorize a speech? Right, what does that tell us about the brain and how the brain remembers things. Right. Carrying that thought through, you see a lot of kind of experts in human performance. Take Anders Ericson, who is studying the fact that, hey, innatability. We talked about. innatability is really acquired ability that we've acquired through deliberate practice, and something as simple as memorization can be taught. You can teach someone to have an excellent memory, right, and that is the the whole intent of something like the mnemonic approach that was established by the Greeks. So you take that rather academic idea of studying like the history of our kind of approaches to memory and you bring it into the practical world. Today, if we can help people learn faster, more efficiently, increase their memory, bring things present when they need them, you know we're kind of playing in a space that has been innovative kind of throughout civilization. It's exciting for me. So, in essence, you're saying that innovation is actually innate to us as humans. It's part of our being. We just do it all the time. It's not a huge production to begin with. It is one of those things, I think, that makes us human right. It is the in the fact that innovation and technology can now accelerate our human innovation. That's the next wave of innovation for, you know, for our culture. That's super excitement to me. So learning is key to our evolution and, you know, being human like might have a sense that the moment you start learning, it's like the beginning of the end. You Stop Learning.

Right. How can, and you're one of the leading experts in the field of learning in the United States, how can we do better with learning so more people are learning more actively and, you know, using that to their benefit as a continuous effort? Yeah, I mean, if you look at like Carol Dweck, who did a lot of work in on growth, mindset, right, we know that a lot of it is about our ability, our belief right self, efficacy that I can do this, I can learn right, that powers are curiosity, are drive. It helps us, you know, stretch ourselves. The other concept into my head is one of called, you know, mindful learning. Ellen Langer has a book on mindful learning. There's a concept I love called sideways learning, which is we usually think of learning as something top down. I'm going to you know, an instructor teaches us something or it's bottoms up right and and we think of the bottoms up approach often with like high performance athletes or anyone that really develops, you know, kind of extraordinary skill with all they're so gifted and talented. Will. We've invested a lot in that practice, that deliberate practice. You think of master piano players or chess masters or you know Silicon Valley, you know prodigies. This comes through really focused, deliberate practice. And you know the concept of like sideways learning is this being open to novelty, being like alert and aware of your learning at area, and I we do a lot of work with meticognition that if we can make you conscious of your incompetence or your competence, we can improve your learning ex darings and accelerate your ability to learn at whatever age you are. So earlier you mentioned blooms taxonomy. Can you elaborate a little bit more for our listeners? Yeah, blooms taxonomy from, you know, the S. it's like a basic psychology kind of taxonomy...

...of you know, knowledge from the very the very bought base of the pyramid are things like remembering and understanding and knowledge right. This is foundational and it moves up in terms of kind of higher order levels of thinking. At the top you have judgment, analysis, creation. Right, that's where innovation fits because you know, once we've laid this foundation and develop this for ourselves, we can we can jump up or leap up to that that higher level kind of thinking. And you know, I do think that a lot of what we end up doing in the learning space tends to be down at this at this level of remembering and understanding, and the more that we can do engaging activities that get us into that, you know, critical thinking and those types of things. That gives us, you know, innovative thoughts. Certainly, innovative thought leads us to innovative technologies, breakthroughs and in sciences, all kinds of exciting things. So what I'm hearing you say is a lot of the training and learning happens more at a transactional level, whereas we can lean more out of it if we create linkages to see how this makes a further connection. You know, what are the lengths? Where can we find patterns and commonalities that are fair assessment? Yeah, I mean up until now, if you take something like digital learning, which everybody's excited about and especially interested into its covid the idea of digital learning today is very much one of distribution. Oh, we can scale who has access to information, right, and that's awesome. I'm not denigrading that. But there is a possibility now of saying, let's scale those practices and expertise building. That is going to lead to innovation and higher order thinking, right, and that entails speaking of like bloom for example. He's famous for the taxonomy. He's also famous for discovering that,... know, Oh, an individual tutor working with you, you can get to standard deviations higher in terms of performance from an individual tutor then you can in a standard classroom. So that's hard to scale, right, the individual tutor and if you're privileged, your parents give you cattle master comes to your house and teaches your piano. That is a very traditional way of getting that really effective learning experience because the tutor is going to personalize that experience for you. If we have technology that can personalize that learning experience for you, it's not just hey, I've got access now to learning and information and I now have access to that highly efficient and effective tutoring. Right, that one on one experience. That does the scale very well. If I can use artificial intelligence to enable that kind of recommendation of what to do next right what's going to be most effective for you as a learner, based on how much time you spent, how confident you are your particular journey. We tend to prescribe a fixed journey for everybody. Oh, this is the road to expertise, you do this, you do this, you do this. We know that it is that that's artificial and part of what I'm excited about my work we're doing right now is we're looking at biological adaptive models that allow for a nonlinear learner path that is unique, that knows enough about Jasmine, how you're interacting to give you a unique experience through digital learning experience, for through a hybrid experience where you have a coach or teacher that is scaling, you know, across a large number of students. Interesting. You were mentioning earlier how there's information is all around us, which it is, but I would argue that information and knowledge are not the same thing and actually being able to tell the wheat from the chaff when it comes to information. He's a huge factor in determining outcomes. Yeah, I mean that's the great crisis of our age. Right, water, water everywhere and then not a drop to drink.

I think that curation process is is important. Part of the work that we've done is look at okay, if I've taken, you know, this much content and I need to accelerate your experience through that, that curation experience is as important as what I'm serving up to you, right, because if I give you everything, you're drowning in a sea of information, but if I can curate exactly what you need, well, we've shown then cut the time in half and also allow for remediation. So it's not like we're dealing with well, this is what the average is, and so we're going to lay that out for everyone. It's like, you know, I remember in Calculus class in high school that we would have the group lecture. I would learn nothing through the group lecture and I would go up to the to the teacher afterwards and say, helped me with this, with this principle. She would give me that one on one experience and that's where I would get that's that would be my Aha, and I would be able to do that because she knew me, she knew where my kind of gaps and unique experience were and and I needed that. You know, it was I was not a traditional student. So she met here at your level and she knew what would be relatable to you. She knew how to get through to you individually. But in a group setting that's not quite possible. Right, and that's that's where I think if we can give that personalized experience to a learner right, they get to mastery sooner faster. That mastery then becomes the basis for them taking on, you know, kind of that creative, innovative kind of learning that happens there and teaches them deliver practice teaches them how to learn right. The more we look know about our own blind spots, those biases become less powerful when we have workarounds to be able to, you know, to get around those and it keep progressing. Makes Sense. Are there? You mentioned curiosity.

I'm a huge proponent of curiosity and I think it makes an enormous difference in people's lives outcomes. How do we encourage curiosity? Any thoughts on that? It's such a big topic. I'm thinking, you know, and thinking about kids and how we inspire curiosity in either our children or, you know, in that generation that we're working with, either in an education context. A lot of it is letting people go in that nonlinear or sideways direction, and we spend so much time carowling people to these this is your o Kayre, this is what, this is your objective in your goal and your whatever, and we try to create this linear path there where we could be having a sideways conversation about something unrelated, but there is either a pattern in that that our brain recognizes a pattern and we apply it in a different context. Right, and that curiosity, that fact that I was all that I allowed myself and permitted myself to study. You know, something, tanngential, is going to give me that innovation I'm looking for here, because I've got a new pattern to my head, a new perspective. And you know, computers are great at giving US complex calculations and wrote tasks, right formulas and algorithms. Humans are awesome at pattern matching and meaning making and curiosity. That's what teases our brain to want to do that a little bit more. Right. We've none of us are inspired by Oh, in this course you will do this, this, this and this. That does not make us curious. Yeah, it does not give us an inquiry or a problem to solve or puzzle. And you know, people try to Oh, we're going to gamify this, will add a theme or we'll do that. That's getting around the core issue of how we engage people, how we engage their brain in the real problem. Interesting, I mean ai is all around us and it's not... It's been around actually for quite a while and it powers so many, so much of the technology that we use today. Most people may not even realize that. But does that also constrict some of that curiosity, the accidental discovery? I think there's ways that it could. I mean you read stuff, you know ethicist and I love reading the Futurists, and they're talking about the ethics of AI and and robotics. And does this Dumb Down Society? Right, because, oh, it's making decisions for us. Were we have to think about the kinds of decisions that it's making for us and the kinds of decisions that it enables. Right, there's an enablement that happens with that. And Technology doesn't also have to be used. Ai Can be used in lots of ways. Right. Andrew and talks about Aias I think the metaphors. It's the new electricity, just like it's taking certain decisions, you know, and getting them out of the way for us. There's also, you know, in my field, I want to look at how that artificial intelligence can accelerate those human things, our decision making. Take what the for was in the realm of the elite or the quote unquote genius and making that available, that same kind of accelerated learning track or mastery or lifelong learning, that that can be available to everybody. And and that's what's excited to me about ai and that counterbalances the dumbing down that, you know, the dumbing down of society. You have this kind of elevation and enablement of Intelligence and expert performance. Everything kind of is working towards that dumbing down. Right. May you turn on a television program there is a major disaster or something and there's everybody's looking for oneline explanation, but it's the reality is more complex. So and I think it's an in constant like tag and pool of trying to simplify things to reach audiences versus shedding light on what's really happening. It makes teaching critical fear, thinking and analysis and us being kind of savvy human players... that ecosystem. If you think of anology ecosystem and the role a combined text stack and human stack. Right, we're getting inputs from all places. It does. We do have to think about not being passive recipients. But how do we become active players in that ecosystem? That's a great phrase, the knowledge ecosystem. So I don't think it's used enough when we should have awareness of it. Like what knowledge ecosystem are we surrounding ourselves? Would which one to do we inhabit ourselves, because people create these bubbles, right, they create these bubbles that they live in that are I think they're the opposite of curious. Right, it's I'm not curious, there's something validating for me in a in a particular subsystem, right. And how do we tap into the larger collective knowledge ecosystem? You just mentioned something interesting. It would be very hard to come across a person, though. They would say, I'm not curious. It's like a politician speaking against children. Right, it kind of does not happen, but in reality we all know there are lots of people who, in effect, are not intensely curious and inhabit a bubble. So how do we break through to that, because the more curiosity, I think, the more revolution for society. So that's an interest. That's a very prerogative question, I think. And what what immediately popped to my head was you know, these ingredients of you know what motivates people, what makes people passionate or interested in something, and you know there's if you have that passion right, that enables okay, I'm going to persistent, I'm going to do hard things right, I'm going to break out of my bubble or I'm going to I'm going to, you know, change or do something different. And you know, we're so motivated by understanding, Kate. We think about...

...what's in it for us. People are actually really strongly motivated if they understand what will benefit others as well. So there's that mix, I think, in terms of generating the kind of passion that will say, okay, I'm not only curious as a person. I don't want anyone to think I'm close minded, but we have to get beyond just that. I'm open kind of generic statement to I'm actually going to explore and discover new things. That's how I'm going to spend my time when I'm either at work, if you're fortunate enough to have that, or outside of work or, and I think that's where there's this kind of movement in our cult or to look at how are we benefiting others right and ourselves, and there's this I think that's an exciting way of maybe converting the curiosity to action. Very thought provoking conversation, Michael. Any additional thoughts on helping people drive innovation within their organizations and lives? You know, I think if you think of your organization, as you know, we want to put processes and practices in place so that we can have efficiency and scale that promotes stability but fixes us in time. A better metaphors to think, okay, I've got this dynamic thing that's always changing and always moving, and to be a learning organization isn't hey, I have to have an ld department that does training or whatever. We know that most of that investment is wasted and lost. So as you have to you have to look at how is learning proximate to the point of need in the organization, and that, I think, is the answer, at least I'm exploring right now. Excellent. Well, thank you for joining us today. This was Dr Michael Noble and your host, Jasmine Martel lasting. Thank you for thank you, Jasmine. You've been listening to innovation nation. For more subscribe to the podcast in your favorite podcast player or connect with us on Linkedin. Thanks for...


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