Even though learning is a common experience shared by everyone, adults especially professionals learn differently. This article describes five key differences and its implications on training designs. To address these implications and to determine an optimal approach to maximize learning effectiveness, PMO Advisory created Intelicamp, a blended learning approach that includes a combination of real-time instructor led training, independent learning, eLearning, and multiple modes of practice tests that are delivered in a modular and agile way. Collectively, these innovative approaches maximize the learning experience and achieve the target objectives.
How Professionals Learn
Professional adults learn differently. After examining multiple approaches, theories, and frameworks, we draw on developments and approaches from Stephen D. Brookfield, Malcolm Knowles, and other researchers to come up with the five key differences and their implications:
- Professionals are purposeful. Most professionals have a clear goal and objectives before they set out on the journey to learn. Therefore, training must be targeted to achieve the primary objectives. At PMO Advisory, our “bootcamps” are very focused on achieving the primary objective – pass the certification exam.
- Professionals bring their experience and knowledge to the learning environment. Thus, professionals require time and space to reflect and assimilate their existing experiences and knowledge with new knowledge. Relevance and active application are two of the most important considerations to maximize learning.
- Professionals are rightfully proud and ambitious and respond better to clear feedback. From a training perspective, this means that the training environment must be encouraging and constructive. Just as important, the course design should incorporate tools to provide clear metrics of improvement, so the professionals know they are getting closer to their goals.
- Professionals are busy, and very often, their greatest investment in training is not the training cost but the opportunity cost of their time. To minimize the time required to learn new materials, the training design must be surgically focused on the primary objectives but also take into account the various learning styles. Some professionals prefer learning by doing (kinesthics), observing (visual), listening (auditory), or multi-modal (combination of above).
- Professionals have limited attention spans, and they are largely due to two major factors: 1) Professionals are more likely to be busy, and they can be distracted by work, personal situations, and other environmental factors. 2) Adults, in general, have a more difficult time to stay focused for a prolonged period of time. There are some training implications including making the content interesting and relevant, punctuate lectures with exercises and activities, apply different learning modalities to maximize attention, and engage participants to create a more interactive environment.
Optimizing Learning Through Intelicamp
With a deep understanding of the challenges (and opportunities) confronting professionals, PMO Advisory has created the Intelicamp approach in 2013 and has since redefined it. The success of the method is in the results – 100% success rate on passing the certification exam on the 1st try for those who follow our methodology.
Intelicamp is a blended learning approach that combines the best of instructor-led, real-time learning with asynchronous learning. The instructor-led, real-time training component is typically three sessions of four hours each or about 12 hours. Asynchronous learning includes a combination of videos, books, articles, and practice exams (depending on which certification). PMO Advisory usually develops its Exam Simulator, but sometimes we also work with other leading experts to pool our resources.
Here is how our Intelicamp optimizes professional learning and addresses the earlier five ways in which professionals learn differently:
- All Intelicamps have one primary objective – passing the exam on the first try. Depending on the standard’s approach, for example, PMP is based on the PMBOK® Guide, which is a process-based standard while the Program Management and Portfolio Management Standards are now principle based, PMO Advisory devised different ways to help you prepare for the respective certification exams.
- A professional’s current experience is invaluable, especially for the principle-based exams such as PgMP and PfMP. But even for CAPM, PMP, PMI-RMP and PMI-ACP, PMO Advisory, in the real-time sessions, uses a combination of experience sharing, storytelling, and case studies to highlight the important concepts, principles, and techniques required to pass the exam.
- To make sure professionals understand the progress of their study, PMO Advisory’s methodology for achieving a 100% pass rate on the first try is simple – pass our exam simulator in the Exam mode two times at 85% within seven days and take the actual exam within another seven days. Our exam simulators offer two modes: Flexible and Exam mode. The test results provide clear and simple feedback to the learner on their progress.
- As professionals are extremely busy, our approach saves learners considerable time by mentoring and guiding, like Sherpas, through the maze of activities to reach the final destination quickly. Along with this journey, we provide insights on what works, what may work, and what should be avoided. The time and effort saved can be considerable – by one estimation, shaving off as much as 60% of the preparation time.
- Finally, because professionals are busy with limited attention spans, we designed the real-time Intelicamps to be only four hours long and with a space of a week in between for the learners to reflect, relax, practice, and assimilate the knowledge. As the specific certification bootcamp roadmap shows, learners are encouraged to use the time in between the sessions to fully absorb the learning and pursue even additional ones on their own. Our extended support program, including up to one year, means that professionals who suddenly get busy at work can return to the comparable courses for free within the support period. As a leader in training, PMO Advisory is also experimenting with other tools that will further enhance the learning experience and achieve the primary objectives.
PMO Advisory designed the Intelicamp, especially for busy professionals. By limiting the real-time portion of the course to just twelve hours, four hours per week for three hours, even the busiest of professionals can find time to take the course. The real-time courses are excellent mechanisms for professionals to ask questions, engage the expert instructors and network with others. Then, in their own time and space, learners can leverage the extensive elearning, books, and other learning materials (depending on the exact bootcamp) to further and deepen their learning. Most importantly, all of our bootcamps come with extensive practice questions that enable the learners to have clear feedback on their progress. By utilizing this combination of best practices for professional and adult learning, PMO Advisory has achieved and maintained the near impossible – 100% pass rate on the first try – by following our simple rule of “passing at 85% in the exam mode twice in 7 days and the exam in 7 days”.
Click the PDF icon to view or download our Intelicamp Infographic
About Dr. Te Wu
Our CEO, Dr. Te Wu, has created an optimized approach to accelerate learning by leveraging multiple aspects of his professional and academic background. He previously worked at Nabisco (now Mondelez) Global Learning & Development in the mid 1990s, including setting up and conducting technical training across ten bakeries in the United States, China, Indonesia, and Canada. As early as 1995, he worked closely with some of the early pioneers in computer-based training (CBT). Later, he joined Accenture in the Change Management competency spearheading training design for major ERP initiatives at Fortune 500 companies. In 2003, he started teaching at universities, including the most recent course design and delivery for the MBA program at CEIBS in Shanghai (currently ranked as the top 5 business school in the world by Financial Times). Training and learning aside, he has led major projects and programs, including leading a major ERP implementation that cost over USD 300 million. As a volunteer, he is a core committee member on multiple PMI Global Standard Committees, and he is also a US delegate on ISO TC258 for Project, Program, and Portfolio Management. He founded PMO Advisory in 2012, with the goal of helping professionals to maximize their project management skills and certifications through training.