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Given the nature of modern technological advancements for learning, it is almost remarkable that trainers and educators are still using dated tools in a way that is no longer effectual when compared to more modern methods. While some methods are “tried and true,” the landscape has shifted significantly and a lot has changed about our understanding of education.

Intelligence is no longer viewed as a fixed, genetic nature, but can flex according to environment and external influence. For example, treating children as though they are smart can increase their IQ score approximately 5 points. The opposite is also true: teachers who were told that a child was not a “good student” ignored that student more frequently, and the child’s overall IQ went down a few points.

The rise of findings in neuroplasticity (the changes in the brain over the course of one’s life) now point to solutions that were previously thought impossible, such as stroke recovery or the diminishing impact of dyslexia. However, popular opinion gets stuck in dated thinking; how many millennials dismiss learning a new language because they believe it to be pointless after the age of 10?

Jean Marrapodi, the Chief Learning Architect for Applestar Productions, joins us to talk about increasing learning potential with simple (and often free) tools to help engage learners, improve retention of information, and reinforce training. Learning is cemented when the student becomes the teacher, and using tools to enhance their teaching presentation can expedite the learning process. It can also help build context around the training, so learners are immediately reminded of the “why” behind the training and how the target knowledge ties into their lives and jobs.

Here are some of the resources mentioned in the video:


If you are interested in the science behind neuroplasticity and would like to learn more, please check out the following book titles:

The Brain That Changes Itself

Intelligence and How to Get It

Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning

Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior

For more useful tips and information on leadership development, training, and more, visit


Jean Marrapodi:             In my world of instructional design when I’m in higher ed, I will get a subject matter expert who knows engineering or who knows whatever. They have a textbook and they have a goal for what they want to accomplish in the class, but their assignments would almost always be, “Read chapter seven and answer the questions.” We can do so much more with that. I gave them tools that they could use like SmartDraw and Lucidchart that create diagrams, not for the teacher to do the work but for the learner to use that for the project that they wanted to bring across. One of the things that’s so awesome and so simple to do is to have your learners create a puzzle about the concept that you’re working on, whether it’s a crossword puzzle or a word search. You send the learner to, and they create the puzzle. And then they have to swap the puzzle with another learner.

What happens in that is they think about the content very differently, and they go much deeper because they’re not regurgitating a fact that they memorized, they’re actually putting that there and they’re putting the definition out for someone else to come up with the answer. They can put the content out there and the person sees the answers and they can review that and say, “The clue that you put really didn’t make any sense.” And they’re arguing about definitions now, instead of just spitting stuff back to you. We want to get the learning to go deeper, and we want to use tools and leverage tools to help the learner think at a much higher level. Getting the learner engaged is really important. Having them write a paper kind of gets them engaged, but it’s kind of collecting facts and bopping them together. We want to do more. We want them to curate information, and we want them to present it well.