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VET Fast 5 - Chemène Sinson on Learning as an Instinct

February 15, 2019

Chemène is a learning and performance consultant with 30+ years’ experience working in diverse educational settings and industries around the world.  She established her Australian consultancy—Blackwater Projects—in 2000.  She is fascinated by 'how people tick' and helps organisations design and facilitate learning opportunities that build confidence and drive performance. You can read more about Blackwater Projects here.

1. What’s the most overrated topic in education right now?

21st-century learning. The term feels like a sales pitch to me. Learning is an instinct that humans have always had - this instinct has kept our species alive and helped us move from caves to computers. In my opinion, the term 21st century-learning doesn't relate to learning itself.  It relates to what we now understand about how we learn, and to the tools and technologies that get better and better at helping educators nudge the instinct to learn. Learning is ageless and timeless - it's not just a 21st-century 'thing', but how lucky are we to have 21st-century insights and tools to promote ever more effective learning!

2. Does technology motivate creativity?

The motivation to create comes first, and technology offers tools to help us express that creativity.

3. What app can’t you live without?

For solo learning, YouTube - you can't beat having everything you ever wanted to know, at your fingertips. For collaboration, WhatsApp - it's easy, accessible by everyone, and not hard to teach how to use.  For my own use, Google Maps - can't beat an app that tells me where to go (in the nicest, possible way!).

4. What events from your own experience as a learner have informed your approach to your work in education?

My first day as a student of vocational education and training in Australia continues to influence my practice. It was January 2000, and I had enrolled in the Certificate IV in Assessment and Workplace Training.  On that first day, the trainer used VET jargon that might as well have been Martian, for all I understood. My trainer was a good teacher, and I eventually mastered the language of VET. My confusion and frustration that first day reminded me to always approach instructional design and facilitation from the learners' perspective.

5. Which actor would play you in the movie about your life?

I polled my family for an answer to this one. Two votes for Anne Hathaway based on the character she played in Devil Wears Prada (principled, imperfect, and determined), and one for Tom Hanks. You choose.