Classroom-Based Training: a New Approach for the 21st Century

The government is introducing a scheme that will convert regular school classrooms into operant conditioning chambers. According to Dept. of Education spokesman, Dr. Aibreáin Ó Amadain, “we are convinced that this is the most effective way to educate young minds.”

Dr. Ó Amadain continued,

We have found that the “Golden Age of Education” coincided with the use of corporal punishment in schools. In laymans language, you have to “beat” the learning into the kids. Since that highly effective educational tool – the  stick – was outlawed, we have noticed there’s been a decline in educational standards, ill-discipline in the classroom, obesity, poor hygiene, and a general growing slovenliness in schoolchildren. This is especially apparent in those so-called Digital Natives, with their Playstations and iPods.

So the Dept of Education had to find a way to return to the values and standards of the past without breaking the law.

Thanks to some probably legal and only slightly unethical research undertaken by the Facultych11f1 for Acquiring Knowledge and Education (FAKE), they discovered that they could use a Behaviorist approach to educate children while simultaneously instilling traditional values. Behaviorism is a “treatment” approach to education, based on the principles of operant conditioning, that replaces undesirable behaviors with more desirable ones through positive or negative reinforcement.

This approach is sometimes called Behavioral Understanding Learning Logic or BULL. The Department’s approach centers around completely immersing learners in this environment, what is called TOTAL BULL.

According to a statement released today:

We’ve already begun converting the classrooms of Ireland into Skinner boxes. As you know, traditional Skinner boxes are used to modify the behavior of animals such as rats. In accordance with BF Skinner’s directions, the classrooms will be sound-and light-proofed. Each rat student will have their own set of levers to operate, and a water and food pellet dispenser so that they will have sufficient sustenance – if they earn them.

We feel that this approach will enable pupils to learn everything they need – pull levers, turn switches, eat pellets of nourishment, and so on – to fulfill their roles as cogs in the globalized industrial complex, ruled by a class of rich, self-indulgent overlords, or Alphas.

Honors students will be ‘inspired’ by random and frequent busts of eardrum-shredding white noise and eyeball-bleeding variable strobe lighting to stimulate the prefrontal cortex. Most importantly, the floor will be electrified to dispense admonishment and correction to errant students.

There is an added benefit to the electrified floors – the schools reckon if they activate the floors at lunchtime and leave them ‘live’ for half an hour or so , they can guarantee pupils will get plenty of exercise, certainly more than the lazy sods are getting at the moment, as they’ll have to repeatedly jump off the floor, if they’re not to suffer the trauma of being subjected to a steady 5,000 volts of electrically-stimulated agony. In the pilot program, teachers controlling the Operant Conditioning Classrooms affectionately nicknamed this feature the River of Pain.

imageAn Operant Conditioning Classroom.
Note the high density of students, lack of teacher, and feeding pipe attached to each pupil.

With the current focus on e-learning, it may seem a retrograde step to focus so heavily on classroom-based education. However, there’s an online dimension too: all of the Operant Conditioning Classrooms are connected to the internet (and to the national electrical grid), which means that rather than having wasteful and expensive teachers in each classroom, the government can save money by having one teacher “command” multiple classrooms simultaneously over the web, inflicting pain stimulating education much more efficiently than  previously.

Wrapping up his statement, Dr. Aibreáin Ó Amadain said that today, the First of April will be remembered as a special day. This new initiative was a major innovation in 21st Century pedagogy, and he looked forward to other education authorities teaching TOTAL BULL in the future.

He concluded: “Now, no-one will be able to call us fools.”

April 01 2014 | e-learning | 1 Comment »

East, to the Land of the Rising Sun

Konnichiwa, E-Learning Curvers,

Tomorrow, I’m travelling to Japan. I’m going to the Tokyo Institute of Technology to deliver a certified training course on IT capability management in early March, so the likelihood that I’ll have time to update the E-Learning Curve Blog is pretty low; microblogging is probably on the agenda though. Image courtesy

It’s my first time to visit Japan, and I’m very much looking forward to my visit. I’ll be staying quite near the Imperial Palace, so I hope I’ve time to visit that particular monument, and I (might) just be able to experience the Cherry Blossom Season – fingers crossed. 

With my ‘professional education’ hat on, I’ve trained people onsite in many parts of the world, and even more via digitally-intermediated training interventions, both synchronously, and asynchronously. So, at this point in my career as a professional educator I’m confident that I understand the social protocols and cultural nuances required to facilitate training & education for learners in the UK, Europe, North America, Australia New Zealand, and South East Asia (remind me sometime to blog about how to manage classes in different parts of the world – i could tell some stories…). I’m looking forward to leading training sessions in situ with learners from such a different culture to those I’ve worked with before.

As I prepare for this trip, one of the texts I’m reading is The Rice-Paper Ceiling: Breaking through Japanese Corporate Culture by Rochelle Kopp. She has some interesting insights into the skills required to present to a Japanese audience:

Westerners’ communications are much more explicit and verbal than Japanese. She references  a Japanese saying: "say one, understand 10," to emphasise the Japanese style of relying on shared experiences and information and nonverbal clues to convey meaning. That is enhanced because of Japan’s tradition of lifetime employment, where many of a company’s employees work together for years.

As the course I’ will deliver is strongly influenced by Social Constructivist theory (group exercises and activities, peer-based learning, sharing of experiences, and building knowledge, behaviour and skill artefacts in the classroom context etc), In this sense, I intend to use the training modality as a social experiment: my thesis is that while the manifestations of culture may be different between Japan and the West, the underlying motivations and experiences are universal, rather than culturally-mediated, so the approach I use to training should reflect these universal human needs. 

Kopp asserts that the nonverbal communication approach also applies to giving instruction. For example, a Japanese technical adviser would demonstrate how to operate a piece of technology rather than describing the steps required to use it. According to Kopp, this can be perceived negatively by Westerners as it may imply incompetence (particularly for high-value technical or knowledge workers who pride themselves in either already having high levels of proficiency, or who ‘learn by doing’ (mistakes included).

She also gives several tips for training Japanese learners:

  • Ask enough questions to be sure they understand fully
  • In giving presentations, use plenty of graphs and other visual aids
  • Pace your narrative at a slower rate, pause longer than in Western contexts before answering questions.

Discovery awaits…


Kopp, R. (2000). The Rice-Paper Ceiling: Breaking through Japanese Corporate Culture. Stone Bridge Press, Berkley, CA

February 28 2014 | learning theory | Comments Off on East, to the Land of the Rising Sun

A recurring theme: Recession in E-learning

It seems that I touched on something last week when I posted on the current ‘Forever’  recession. Here are links to some of the more interesting things that others in the education industry have been saying on the subject:

Brent Verhaaren on the Allen Learning Blog outlines some very helpful tips for training departments to anticipate and (hopefully) negate the the impact reduced revenue on them, including:

  • Do the Numbers
  • Talk to the Right People
  • Tighten Your Belt
  • Be Consistent
  • Look to Past Recessions (for solutions for current challenges)

And most importantly there No Time Like the Present to evaluate the potential affect of a external economic influences on your organisation.

I’ll be posting on Something Completely Different on Friday; tune in to find out…

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February 26 2014 | e-learning | Comments Off on A recurring theme: Recession in E-learning

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