Somewhere along my social media refreshing this week, I came across the phrase ’embedded learning’, and it caught my eye. I won’t lie, I immediately linked it to Leonardo DiCaprio and inception (a dream within a dream), but it’s not quite the same…and Leo probably isn’t there.
What’s Embedded Learning?
Embedded learning is an instructional strategy that occurs often in early childhood education, and it involves teaching and learning experiences that happen during the course of everyday activities, and is geared toward enhancing the learning experience.
Examples of embedded learning could be following directions (a more complex concept that becomes less complex when the students learn that it’s part of the process for completing a task), or learning to greet people. These are tasks that many of us likely take for granted, but we probably learned how to do both of them through embedded learning experiences (e.g. parents saying hi to neighbours/family/friends, or knowing that reading the directions is usually step 1 in putting something together).
Within the professional context, you the tell-show-do model of training could be a more complex version of embedded learning, as learners are essentially observing the training completing a task until the learner can then complete the task. The same goes with the concept of job shadowing.
As an adult, I go back to Starbucks when I think about modelling. Modelling involves displaying the behaviour you wish to see from others. Be the change you want to see in the world. This is an especially critical concept when it comes to training and development, because it’s an easy way to inadvertently train people! If you work in a busy cafe and are constantly cleaning/stocking/preparing for the next rush when there are periods of downtime, the people you’re working with will likely model this behaviour (even if it’s just to seem as though they aren’t being lazy).
Within the higher education context, I often seek out faculty members who are doing fantastic things with their course sites, and ask them to participate in our departmental expos or peer-to-peer sessions. When faculty members share what one another are doing, others are more likely to do similar things!