Picture from Curriculum for Agricultural Science Education (CASE).

The visionaries in this graphic are proof that incredible learning can happen remotely!  Each of these men were natural born teachers, and had magic all their own.

This four-part series will explore each TV show host-teacher, and how their methods can be applied to workplace learning.

Steve Irwin influenced attitudes with exposure and passion.

Steve Irwin was a Famous Australian wildlife enthusiast and educator who became a household name after he and his wife Terri filmed the first episode of the The Crocodile Hunter while on their honeymoon in 1992.  Steve’s passion for animals fueled the show, which ran on the Animal Planet from 1996-2007. His charisma and curiosity captured worldwide attention as he met with animals in the wild, shared facts and promoted wildlife conservation.

How Steve Irwin’s methods can be used in workplace learning:

Steve taught wildlife facts and demonstrated his animal handling techniques, but his real mission was to share his lifelong love for animals and foster wildlife conservation. Similarly, workplace learning is categorized into Knowledge, Skills and Attitudes. (These correspond to Bloom’s domains of learning).  Steve’s animal facts are knowledge, animal handling is a skill, and wildlife appreciation is an attitude.  Cultivating specific attitudes can be make or break for job success, and an invisible force (for good or ill) within an organization. We do not know how many animal facts Steve’s audience could recall, or whether they absorbed how to safely handle animals, but Steve Irwin definitely raised money and awareness around Wildlife conservancy.

Social psychologist Robert Zajonc is responsible for the Mere Exposure Effect which postulates the more exposure and familiarity a person has with something, the more affinity they will gain for it. This idea is often used in marketing to develop a desire for a product or cultivate brand loyalty. Similarly, Nudge Theory in Behavioral Economics has been used to shape desired behaviors.

Complete shifts in attitudes and desired behaviors rarely happen after a single workshop. Supports in the form of workplace reminders and reinforcements should be included as part of the solution. Instructional design influenced by Steve Irwin might actually make a more effective program on cultivating an attitude of workplace safety!  The program might have videos or workshops, but would also include many “exposures” and “nudges” on the job, over time to further encourage the desired affinities and habits.

Finally, this learning solution will be more successful if it is delivered with the passion Steve had for his subject matter. Steve Irwin drew people in with his excitement and risk-taking (which at times, was actually unsettling).  And while the potentially dangerous stunts with animals held his audience’s attention, I am certainly not recommending you taunt alligators to gain learner engagement!

Key Takeaways

To design like the Crocodile Hunter:

  1. Break up learning objectives into “KSAs” – Knowledge, Skills and Attitudes. Each are learned differently.
  2. Take a long-term view when developing attitudes. Incorporate “exposures” and “nudges” to support learning.
  3. Leave room for an element of surprise or the unknown- this makes learning memorable.

To facilitate like Steve Irwin:

  1. Bring your enthusiasm and passion for the topic – it’s infectious.
  2. Be spontaneous and take risks! Try something in front of your participants when you aren’t certain it will work.
  3. Use the word Crikey! Well, maybe not Crikey, but maybe your own catchphrase? Be excited by and responsive to the learning event!

 Learn More

If you haven’t already, read the rest of this four-part series that features Mr. Rogers, Bob Ross and LeVar Burton.

Contact Wecksell Learning Studio, where learning theories are mindfully applied to workplace learning for measurable results.

Comment to let us know: What attitudes you been cultivating in the workplace, and how?

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