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Can Learning Occur If Attendees Are "Just Listening"

The clear answer is YES. Learning doesn't have to do what what we can see attendees do (activity), but what goes on in people's heads/brains. So clearly, if people are attending, listening, and THINKING about what they are hearing, they will learn.

Here's the thing, though. Presentations and lectures are inefficient, or ineffective when it comes to learning certain types of things -- skills for example. Most people will need more than listening to a presentation on, let's say assembling a carburator, to be able to return to the outside world, and do the task perfectly first time around.

They'll need to see the process (observational learning). They'll need to have some means of practice. They'll need to receive feedback on how they've done.

Those components are almost always lacking in a lecture based format, or a presentation.

That's not to say people can't learn other kinds of skills via listening to lecture. They can, but lecture is most appropriate to supply information on which to base action, or when it comes to cognitive skills. For example, it IS possible for people to learn critical thinking skills, or time management skills by listening, at least up to a point. However, even those mental skills benefit by the opportunity to practice.

People Can Learn From Anything

So in short, people can learn from almost anything, but some formats are better, more efficient for certain kinds of topics and capabilities than others.

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