How emotions influence education

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Do you know how your learners feel about their learning experiences?

The more we learn about emotions, the more we realize they influence everything we think and do.

1.Emotions drive decisions for learners and customers alike.

Emotions are driving our decisions, and usually more than we believe they are. According to Harvard Professor, Gerald Zaltman, 95 percent of cognitive decisions are based in the subconscious.

With emotions leading the charge, what does that mean for decisions learners make about their own education? They must decide what learning path is meaningful for them, even before they learn anything from that course. They must emotionally connect to the content to prioritize learning on a personal level. They must constantly believe the content they are learning – and the way they’re learning it – is going to reward them emotionally.

I would challenge the teachers and content creators among us to consider emotion in their course descriptions, course content and follow-up communications for learners.

Customers also make decisions based on emotions. Buying a luxury item might cause a feeling of exclusivity, or feeling “part of the club.” The employee trained to deliver that feeling and reinforce it would be ramping up the good feelings for the customer, and most likely leading to more sales for the brand.

2.New technology will help us react to learner’s emotions in the moment.

Several patents filed recently by auto makers and technology companies are describing technology to identify human emotions.

Technology already available today, like faceprinting and voice recognition, would be used in combination with this new technology to identify if the speaker is feeling anxious, excited or even if he is just a little under the weather. If a user is not feeling well, it would be possible for some devices to make recommendations for medicine, rest, or just trying to complete a task later.

Consider what this could mean for learners. If technology could recognize when the learner is frustrated, content could be adapted to present additional information, slow down the pace of instruction, or more. Learners would feel more accomplished by seeing results based on their emotional state.

The opportunities here are exciting. While the tech isn’t quite there yet, the ideas behind it still present interesting questions. How can employee development teams innovate around learner emotions today? Reviewing survey questions and feedback might be a place to start.

3.With that same technology, we could understand customers better.

By understanding customer emotions in real-world scenarios, we could adapt our training to help customers avoid frustrations, be more successful in their tasks, and feel better about our brands!

Understanding customer emotions at this level would help us truly “see” the key moments of the customer journey. We could then identify the right content and training for the employees and technology that serves the customer in that moment.

This technology and the opportunities around it are not as far away as we think. What can you do today to approach learning with more emotion for your employees and your customers?

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