Speaker Interview with Keith Himmer

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The ITEC 2018 Conference theme is “Readiness 2025: Innovating Education and Training for the Next decade and Beyond” – what does this mean to you?

We have decades of research that shows how adults learn best; however, we still hold on to centuries-old pedagogical educational models and utilize them for training adults. Andragogy—how adults learn, is vastly different than pedagogy; so we need to adopt andragogical models for training today’s work force. Malcolm Knowles’ research highlighted that adults do not appreciate being taught like children, and that they actually resist any training that adheres to pedagogical teaching methods. So why do we continue to use them? Even with today’s technology, we’ve only used it as a platform to administer, or supplement, pedagogically-rooted training. We need to move beyond this paradigm, and harness the intrinsic characteristics of individual technologies
for what they can bring to the adult learner. The result will be a more cognitively effective training, and therefore, a better-trained workforce.


2018 marks the 10th anniversary of the introduction of the Smart Phone. This remarkable device not only provides a technical means of communication, but its impact is far broader as it continues to shape the ways in which we interact. How do you think such devices are impact the way we train and educate?

I don’t think we’ve fully harnessed Smartphone technology for training yet. Smartphones have become an integral part of contemporary life and there is so much we could do with the platform; but we have to get over our traditional notions of where learning resides—especially in the government/ military sectors. It can reside on a service-member’s Smartphone, for example; and in the future it will have to, if we ever hope to reach our training audience. We need to meet our
intended training audience where they cognitively reside.


Readiness is a function of how people and machines are prepared, and kept ready, for missions and tasks – how best do you think this can be achieved?

Training has always been considered a “chore” – an unstimulating evil that we all suffer through in order to satisfy an external requirement that has been levied upon us. For example, military members do not go into their annual General Military Training with any level of enthusiasm. They are there physically, but not mentally; therefore, there is little-to-no cognitive effort being expended. And as a result, no learning is actually taking place. So why do we continue to train this way? Why do we continue to subject today’s workforce to slow and painful cognitive “deaths by PowerPoint?” It is incumbent upon leaders to not just put the “check in the box” and say that everyone is trained because they sat in an auditorium for a lecture. They need to get uncomfortable and go outside of traditional training paradigms—which time and time again have been proven to be ineffective-- to give their workforce cognitively energizing training programs, where they will actually learn.

Where do you expect to see the biggest developments and trends in the next 10 years?

Game-based training is the future—if we can get the right people to design the training. We need to stop conflating “modelling and simulation” with “serious games and game-based training.” They are different disciplines; and more importantly, they operate in different ways. Currently there are a lot of people creating and producing training games that have no background in game design, and often not in adult training and education either. By marrying game design with sound instructional design, game-based training will finally prove it’s full potential.

What can delegates expect to take away from your session? 

Games and simulations are two entirely different things; and the two operate in different ways in the training environment. Simulators are a tool to practice skills and knowledge learned elsewhere. Games actually teach new skills and knowledge. And, games naturally align to the way in which adults learn. As a result, the audience can begin to acknowledge the benefits of game-based training for the adult workforce.

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