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How Does IL Work?

IL is a learning system that works by (1) creating a supportive physical and psychological environment and (2) completeing the IL Learning Cycle.

Creating the Environment [2]

IL seeks to create a natural, relaxed, and enjoyable learn­ing environment by eliminating all of the typical mental and physical barriers to learning. IL surrounds the learner with images relating to the subject matter, facilitating
immersion. Posters with definitions, key concepts, dia­grams, etc., cover the wall of the training room. Articles on the subject are always available on a side table. This technique takes advantage of the facts that people always take mini-mental field trips as attention wanders AND that repetition of any information often enough will finally sink in! Seating is in a U-shaped semi-circle, usually WITHOUT any tables to further remove barriers to learn­ing. Casual dress is encouraged and frequent breaks are taken to increase the feeling of comfort in the learning environment.

Kline believes that the mental outlook of the group is the most critical element for encouraging a receptive and creative learning environment. This is accomplished by the positive, reinforcing style of the instructor and the use of exercises designed for positive fun and creativity. Two exercises aimed directly at encouraging positive support within a group are Good-and-New and Think-and-Listen. Good-and-New is a technique that turns habitually nega­tive attitudes into positive ones. A meeting starts with every person getting a turn to say something good or new that happened to them in the last 24 hours. If someone can't come up with something, then several group members will share what they like about that person. This creates a very positive atmosphere. Think-and-Listen begins by posing a topic or question and then requires paired up students to have one person answer the question while the other concentrates on listening intently. After a specified time, they switch roles. This technique capitalizes on the fact that most people never get listened to adequately and that concepts are internalized well when verbalized.

The IL Learning Cycle

The IL learning process is composed of three basic steps: input, synthesis and output. These basic components are included in every step of the IL Learning Cycle. Input is simply information that the learner comes in contact with during the learning process. Synthesis occurs as the learner's brain processes the information—comparing it with previous experience, fitting it into a mental map of how the universe works, comprehending and understand­ing the new input. Output is the learner's response—this could be emotion, physical activity, verbal response or performance on a test. A major weakness of traditional teaching is the emphasis on input, leaving synthesis to the initiative of the learner, and focusing output on formal testing. IL is designed to help the learner with synthesis and output—this is how the learning process is greatly accelerated! IL accomplishes this through the IL Learning Cycle:

1. Decoding—Global Introduction
2. Active Concerts—Story/Dialogue
3. Passive Concerts—Guided Visualization
4. Activations—Learning Activities
5. Culminating Activities
6. Assessment

The first three steps were discussed in the review of Lozanov*s work. Decoding and Concerts are primary input phases. Activation emphasizes synthesis. Culminating Activities and Assessment focus on the output phase. Note that the input-synthesis-output process is actually occur­ring continuously, interwoven into each of the steps of the IL Learning Cycle. The following discussion will illustrate the techniques for each of the steps.

A primary technique for decoding is the Body Sculpture. This involves taking subject matter that can be conveyed in a diagram with discrete elements (e.g., a flowchart) and developing visual symbols for each element. Class partici­pants then associate each symbol with the subject matter element, symbols are given to students and they replicate the diagram physically in the middle of the classroom. This technique is especially effective when used as an "Ad­vanced Organizer"—to illustrate an overview diagram of the entire subject matter to be covered by the training event, e.g., MRPII system diagram.

Mind-mapping is a primary visual technique that encour­ages creativity and formation of personal mental models of the subject matter. The central idea of a problem, lecture, paper is written into a circle that becomes the "hub" of the mind-map. Then major spokes off the hub become sub­headings, with twigs coming off the main spokes for addi­tional ideas.

Mind-mapping is an effective technique for organizing information (decoding), problem-solving or note-taking.

Active and Passive Concerts

The Active Concert is a story or dialogue which presents the concepts or terminology of the subject matter in a learner-friendly manner. The instructor reads from a prepared script using the voice almost like an instrument to accom­pany the music being played. The intent is to engage the learner with emotion, excitement, and/or humor. The Passive Concert introduces new material using guided imagery set to music while the learners relax, usually with their eyes closed and/or the room lighting dimmed. The story utilizes all five senses in rich visualizations of the new material.

To be Continued


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