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How SALT Can Help You Learn Online

Learning and education are critical to a functional society

Learning and education are critical parts of any society. Passing down information is a fundamental part of the human condition. It is a critical part of how we evolved from our more primitive origins and progressed from the dark ages through to the digital age. However, learning hasn’t always been an easy exercise for us. As information evolved and became more complicated and specific, the methods we employ to turn that information into knowledge has also become more complex and individualized.

This has sparked generations of great minds to deconstruct the learning process and give us better insights into the intricate system of the human mind. Theorists and educators, like Neil Flemming, gave us insight into how people learn through visuals, aural, reading, and kinesthetics (VARK). Academics and researchers, like Howard Gardner, brought us ideas like multiple intelligences and how to engage and reach a variety of minds by encompassing an array of learning preferences. Over the past few decades, we have started to see formal education systems, such as schools and institutes of higher learning, adopt more progressive understandings of the learning process and shift the methods of education to address the uniqueness of how we think and learn.

Fast forward to today, the formal education system that has been making gains in helping people learn more effectively by meeting their unique learning needs is now shifting to a new medium – online learning. Online learning or e-learning, is not only becoming the new normal for many types of education it is becoming big business. According to, Projections show the e-learning market worldwide is forecast to surpass 243 billion U.S. dollars by 2022.

This move toward online learning has a lot of benefits; fewer limitations of location, a greater variety of course and topic selection, and more convenience and flexibility in time and duration, just to name a few. However, these benefits can only really be seen as advantages if the online learning method works with how you learn.

What makes learning online challenging?

One of the challenges associated with the move towards online learning is that we seem to be starting over in our efforts to meet the unique needs of the learner. In-person or classroom-based learning has allowed progressive educators to meet the unique learning needs of their students by providing meaningful interactions and using multiple methods of instruction. Many online learning options haven’t quite figured out how to create the same amount of meaningful interactions or how to incorporate multiple methods of learning. Evidence shows that online learning is not yet able to meet the effectiveness of in-class learning.

Part of the challenge with some online learning, especially self-directed learning, is that it is often heavily dependent on reading and writing. Current online learning is similar to what formal learning was like decades ago, before we started to incorporate strategies like Flemming’s VARK and Gardner’s Multiple Intelligence theories. Online learning interactions cut out most of the personal interactions and can often limit the meaningful group-based discussions and personal connections that are essential to many people’s learning experience.

What is needed are new ideas and new strategies to help educators to create a better understanding of the complex nature of the modern online learner, which will in turn allow those learner take control of their learning journey.

There is where Roman 3 comes in

Over the past number of years, Roman 3 Operations has been working on new ideas and strategies to address the challenges of online learning. We have developed an experimental learning theory that brings together a collection of best practices from learning, intelligence, and personality theories and a strong understanding of how these practices work together during the learning process. This theory has been a passion project of mine, W. Coby Milne, since I finished my Master’s degree in Adult Education. I call this theory the Collective Operation of Learning Domains (COLD). The four domains of COLD are: Acquire, Process, Equate, Execute (APEX). We call our experimental theory the COLD theory of APEX.

The development of this experimental theory comes from years of academic research and the experimentation of applied strategies. While we still have work to do in the academic validation and in the peer review processes, we feel that we truly have something of value in the practical strategies, based on our current research and experimentation. In light of the changes to the world as a result of COVID-19, we felt it necessary to make the themes and strategies available to people who are being forced to engage in online learning like never before. The desire to improve the online learning experience for both the educator and the learner is what led us to the creation of the Strategies for Accessible Learning Tool (SALT).

SALT can support more engagement with online learning

A fundamental concept in Adult Education is critical reflection that can lead to a type of transformation in your learning (Mezirow, 1993). This leads us to the benefits of self-awareness in learning. Conventional wisdom and historical theories support the idea of self-assessment tests, like those used in Flemming’s VARK and Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences theories, providing a valuable critical reflection of how we think about our learning. When learners reflect on how they learn and develop a better understanding their uniqueness in cognitive preferences, they can better apply the strategies that will maximize their education. Studies have found a positive relationship between applying strategies that reach a student’s learning preference and increased engagement in the learning process, both in class and online.

This is the goal of SALT; to provide a simple and engaging assessment that identifies the learning preferences at different stages of the learning process. It then seeks to provide practical suggestions and strategies that can empower the learner to be more effective in their online learning, even if the courses they are engaged in are not designed to use multiple methods of instruction to meet unique learning needs and preferences.

The current version of SALT is designed to be a free tool to support learners with their online learning journeys. However, this only the beginning for SALT and our experimental COLD theory of APEX. The courses offered by Roman 3 Operations, both in-class and online, are designed with the best practices of the COLD theory of APEX approach and supports learners by incorporating the strategies and preferences identified through the use of SALT. Our goal is to provide the best learning experience we can through our learning projects. But what we really want is to help change the learning landscape and support best practice learning programs for everyone. The free SALT assessment will be available to everyone, forever. Furthermore, we will continue to improve the tool and the strategies it uses in order to support learning institutions and online learning companies around the world. In addition, we aim to increase the accessibility of online learning for everyone. As we have already said, learning and education are critical parts to any society and we want to do our part.

The Takeaway

An essential part of maximizing education is by designing learning experiences that meet the needs of the learner. Learning styles and preferences are an important part of meeting those needs. Roman 3 has created a tool, called SALT, to identify individual preferences and recommend strategies, based on our experimental COLD theory of APEX. SALT incorporates best practice approaches to learning that will allow individuals to the most out of their online learning experiences.

If you would like to try out SALT yourself, please use this link.

Roman 3 is an advising and solutions firm that specializes in inspiring progressive action, creating a culture of innovation, and assisting organizations in implementing transformative change. We help you build capacity, learn to collaborate, become progressive, and grow to your full potential. For more information on our services and support, reach out to us at

Quantum Thinkers Have Real Superpowers – Are You One of Them?

Quantum Thinking: What is it?

There is some confusion about what, exactly, quantum thinking means.  Some think it’s connecting your mind, body and spirit; some think it’s a tactic to better understand and embrace physics, and still others think it can be a magical way to live a happy and perfect life.

Now, I don’t know about any of that. I won’t tell you how to connect your mind, body and spirit, or help you understand physics or promise you a perfect life. I want to talk about quantum thinking from a cognitive, adult learning perspective. Quantum thinking is about a depth and speed of processing that could be a vital and game-changing skill when it comes to leadership, innovation, management and education. It involves using multi-dimensional thinking and thematic analysis to discern and synthesize complex information from seemingly random memory, in real time. In an overly simplified way, quantum thinking is about developing a seemingly limitless mental capacity. Who wouldn’t want that?

I first came across quantum thinking, or to be more to the point, “high capacity” quantum thinking, when I was a grad student doing research on cognition and transformative learning. I was reading a book by celebrated adult educator Jane Vella. She only touched on this concept in the book, but it peaked my interest and I dug further into it.  I discovered that different kinds of thinking can be expressed as an upside down hierarchy in terms of capacity and depth. In this model, linear thinking falls on the bottom, creative thinking (spreading your thinking outward) and critical thinking (reflecting and analyzing information) sit in the middle and high capacity quantum thinking has all of it and more.

So, again: What is it?

High capacity quantum thinking is the ability to simultaneously and systematically connect six different skills:

Creativity – explore alternate options and pathways, even unconventional ones.

Intuition— trusting the information, higher-order concepts, and ideas that come to your mind.

Unrelated storage – being able to learn and store information without immediate relevance and then recall and connect it once it becomes relevant.

Information integration – the ability to integrate information from all sources into actionable and practical concepts

Synthesis – creating foundational and practical knowledge from the information and concepts created and stored.

Accelerated Processing – being able to make connections, process and learn information, and master new tasks at an intensely quick rate.

How can I use this information?

The real question is, how can high capacity quantum thinking help you?  For the purposes of this article we’ll talk about how to look for signs of quantum thinking in your potential job applicants.

High capacity quantum thinkers are a gift to some industries and a curse to others. If you’re looking for employees to just tow the company line, be given tasks to repeat the same way everyday until they retire, maintain status quo, and think within the box, then you need to stay clear of high capacity quantum thinkers. They will drive you crazy, be unhappy, and most likely will not use their hyper accelerated thinking skills to make your life easier.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for more efficiency in your process, looking for new and meaningful connections, need answers to questions you haven’t even thought of yet, and want all of this yesterday—then you, my friend, need to be in the market for a high capacity quantum thinker.

So where do you find them?

That’s a tough one. Most high capacity quantum thinkers don’t even realize this is what they are. They tend to believe that having a mind that goes a mile a minute and sees all the angles is what everyone experiences. Interestingly enough, many high capacity quantum thinkers may have been misdiagnosed as having ADHD as kids. This might be because ADHD is marked with having a need to have your mind stimulated, and looking beyond the task you are currently engaged in to find that stimulation.  The undisciplined high capacity quantum thinker may appear to be scattered, unfocused or having poor follow through. This is because having information and inspiration constantly coming at you can be overwhelming and extremely distracting. Like most super powers, they’re a burden until you learn to harness and control them.

So, let’s reframe the question.

Where do you find DISCIPLINED High Capacity Quantum Thinkers?

It’s likely they’re already applying for positions in your company. High capacity quantum thinkers know what kind of work and projects interest them and they’re eager to seek them out. You will find them among the resumes and cover letters that speak about their potential, their achievements attained in a short period of time, will likely have had three or four jobs in a ten year span, which they’ve left to pursue more exciting prospects. They won’t have the twenty years of experience you’re looking for, they will be the ones who sound confident and engaged, but whom you thought were probably “too green” or inexperienced to consider as a serious candidate.

Overlooking high capacity quantum thinkers is understandable. Lots of people claim to be great and able to meet all of your needs. Hiring people is risky, so you play it safe and go with the most experienced candidates.  It makes logical linear sense. But if you’re going to choose people who have done the job before, you’ll likely get employees who will do things the way they’ve always been done. However, if you want to increase the capacity of your business, you need to invest in increasing the “High Capacity” of your employees. The best advice I can offer to help you spot them is to look for people who have been able to complete excellent work in surprisingly short time frames, people who routinely over-deliver in terms of quality and deadlines, and people who can find connections, unique perspectives, and transferable elements in seemingly random or limiting situations. If you can harness the power of a quantum thinker you can have your very own super hero at your disposal, and again…who wouldn’t want that!


Roman 3 is an advising and solutions firm that specializes in inspiring progressive action, creating a culture of innovation, and assisting organizations in implementing transformative change. We help you build capacity, collaborate, be progressive, and grow to your full potential. For more information on our services and support check us out at 

Investing in Psychological Capital- Maximizing Yourself and Your Talent Pool

– Written by W. Coby Milne – Director of Roman 3 Operations

I have an incredible investment opportunity for you. I’m asking you to consider investing in Psychological Capital, also known as PSYCAP.  PSYCAP is a form of capital that involves the personal resources people bring to their jobs.

Now, before you dismiss this as a type of investment scam, stop reading and close this article, hear me out.

An investment in your own Psychological Capital, and in the Psychological Capital of those who work under you, can create amazing personal, professional and financial return.

Hopefully, I kept your interest. Let’s see where this journey takes us.

A little about me

In my work history I used to teach Workforce Navigation and Psychological Capital development to unemployed and under-employed people in Nova Scotia’s rural Annapolis Valley. I now provide corporate training to industry, governments, and nonprofits. My students former were going through different levels of career transition and are all trying to be more competitive job candidates and stronger employees. My former students are probably the most diverse that you can imagine in terms of education, skill set, cultural background, disabilities, age, and career goals. So when I say this is a universal investment opportunity, I mean what I’m saying.

The focus on Psychological Capital in my work came from a shift in the culture from where I used to work. Our focus used to be to make people really good at finding jobs, but as we started to support more services for business, we realized that we were only making good job seekers, not good employees. This led to my team re-evaluating our approach and methods. We ended up throwing out everything we took as standard practice and completely starting over. This led to copious amounts of academic research and a wide range of business needs assessments. All of this investigation led us to a unanimous conclusion. We found that in order to increase the capacity and employability of employees, we needed to increase their value add (capital) in the job market.

This is the basis for the concept of Human Capital: the economic value of an employee’s skill set. So the new question was the simplest, yet most difficult: How? How can we increase people’s capacity and employability, in a meaningful and efficient way?

Investing in people

This is what led us to the concepts of Psychological Capital. Psychological Capital is simply understood as the positive union between the cognitive skills of Hope, Efficacy, Resilience and Optimism (easily remembered as HERO). The idea is if you can build and strengthen these skills in yourself or your business, you can significantly increase your competitive advantage in your marketplace (business or job), embody the concept of “Work Smarter, Not Harder” and considerably increase achievement capacity.

This new found information and direction was a real game changer for both our students’ efforts and our own careers. Our employment rate for students jumped from around 65% to a little over 80%, but most significantly, our employment retention (the ability to keep a job for at least the length of the probation period) jumped from 68% to 93%! This success was consistently reinforced with multiple iterations of our training program, delivered to almost 150 students over a two year period.

With a focus on Psychological Capital, the graduates of our program were more quickly promoted than in past programs, they reported much higher job satisfaction, and were able to recover from jobs that didn’t work out and find another job much faster.

How do you build these skills?

This is a much more complex question. In building our program, curriculum and research models, we were fortunate to have a diverse team. We had people with extensive HR backgrounds, expertise in business services and needs assessments and, my value add, cognitive skill development. The specific details are too much to include in this article, but feel free to contact me with any questions you have.

What I can share at this time are our guiding principles. These were the foundations for every step along the way.

Hope Theory – (Hope)

Create a culture that supports two basic, yet essential ideas.

  1. Pathways – There is more than one way to achieve a goal and success looks different to different people.
  2. Agency – You have the capacity to effect change. Your actions and efforts matter; in fact they are often all that does
Experiential Learning (combined with Flooding) – (Efficacy)

While I’ve covered this elsewhere (Three Essential Elements for Effective Training), it’s worth revisiting the three key approaches to adult learning:

  1. Rote learning– focuses on learning specific content, understanding steps and processes, for example, how to format a resume.
  2. Reflective Learning–working with information and ideas to get students really thinking about themselves, their pasts and their biases. This approach provides perspective and hopefully will encourage growth. A sample of reflective learning would be considering how negative thinking and biases hurt mental resilience.
  3. Experiential Learning–where students are immersed in the learning and experiencing the value of the tips, knowledge and understanding they’ve gained. One example of experiential learning would be mastering the steps for high level problem solving by making a survival plan after a theoretical plane crash.

Our program utilized the best learning approaches to meet the students’ needs in achieving our training outcomes. We wouldn’t use experiential learning just because it was fun, we would only use it if it had real value in helping learners learn. We combined experiential learning with a process used in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, called flooding. Flooding involves getting people to move out of their comfort zones by placing them in situations where they need to push themselves beyond their usual limits. An example might be building conflict resolution skills using specific scenarios and increasing the complexity of the scenes to go beyond the normal, typical situations they would commonly encounter. If they can handle the most challenging scenarios, then the everyday ones will seem easy by comparison. The principle is similar to practicing lifting weights that are heavier than you need to lift, so when you are lifting your targeted weight, it seems much easier.

Let Yourself Fail – (Resilience)

We did a lot of research around Growth Mindset and rewarding the making of an authentic effort over the achievement of results. Growth Mindset is a concept best described by researcher Carol Dweck, who said, “people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment.” The theory goes that failure is a mindset, not an inevitable outcome. In a Growth Mindset, failing is not seen as the mistakes or the wrong choices we make.  A failure is framed as letting the mistake or the wrong choice define us.

Realistic Expectations – (Optimism)

We may have been told things in life like, “if you can dream it, you can do it” or “shoot for the moon and even if you miss, you will end up among the stars.” These motivational quotes sound nice, but can do more harm than good. We need to accept the reality of our situations and be realistic with our optimism. Our role as trainers and educators is to help our students recognize their strengths, assets and professional value, but also realistically see their baggage, limitations and weaknesses. Our students need to know and accept all of these aspects of themselves as the cards they’ve been dealt.  With this knowledge, they can start to play their best hand.

Improve your efforts moving forward

Throwing out our previous work and questioning the foundation and guiding principles of our industry was a huge risk and, to be honest, pretty scary. But even we couldn’t predict the positive impact it had on our students. Also, we’ve consulted with other organizations and businesses on their professional development efforts, and encouraged them to consider incorporating a PSYCAP focus. They’ve reported great successes and momentum building, plus a renewed structure for intentional training.

Teaching to build PSYCAP is all about maximizing the potential of the learners.  You don’t have to hire for talent if you can build it in house. Instead of being a hunter and gathering new talent, farm the talent you currently have and grow it to feed the success of your business and your efforts.


Roman 3 is an advising and solutions firm that specializes in inspiring progressive action, creating a culture of innovation, and assisting organizations in implementing transformative change. We help you build capacity, collaborate, be progressive, and grow to your full potential. For more information on our services and support check us out at 

Three Essential Elements for Effective Training

Have you thought lately about your teaching methods?

How many times have we sat in professional development workshops or post secondary lectures and thought to ourselves, “Well, this is a waste of my time!”? Likely more than you care to count. On the other hand, if you’re a trainer/instructor/educator, how many times have you wondered after a class or workshop, “Did any of that sink in?”

There are all kinds of factors that influence how meaningful and engaging training is for learners. These include the charisma of the instructor, content knowledge, motivation of the learner and method of curriculum delivery. For the purposes of this article, I’m going to focus on the latter. While I can’t influence your charisma (at least not in a single article), and it’s up to you to do your homework to increase your content knowledge, I can offer some insight into engaging learners through the right method of teaching.

A little about me

You might ask why I feel like I am the right person to talk about effective curriculum methods. It’s a fair question. I have spent years working with the most diverse populations imaginable: PhD’s to high school dropouts, people who’ve never left their community to recent immigrants, former high-level managers to recent graduates, and students facing significant barriers like mental illness, poverty and learning difficulties. All in the same classroom! (Welcome to the wonders of community education.) To prepare for this challenge, I completed a Master’s degree in Adult Education, focusing on teaching “unteachable topics to hard to teach populations”. Yeah, I love a challenge!

Understanding how learners learn

If you’re like most of the trainers I know, you go to class with a PowerPoint presentation, explain the information on the slides, occasionally get everyone to brainstorm in groups, then share the results of the group work. Does some or all of that sound about right? Well, depending on what you’re trying to achieve, this could be effective, but odds are it really isn’t. Let’s see if we can fix that.

The first thing you need to ask yourself is whether you really understand different kinds of learning. In training, there are three common approaches learners use in acquiring new information:

Rote or Informational Learning: Memorizing or creating an understanding of information.

Reflective Learning: Using critical reflection to challenge past thinking or behaviour

Experiential Learning: Experiencing the learning first hand.

Let’s look at these a little more closely.

Rote or Informational Learning: While not the most engaging method, rote or informational learning is the best choice for content-heavy material such as safety training, policies or procedures workshops, explaining results of studies, etc. The learner needs content of this type to be laid out logically and explained to them, in the hope of adding to their understanding of the topic being covered. If adding to understanding is the reason for the training, then this is a very practical method.

This is best done using examples to provide a context for adding new information, using metaphors or similes to give people something to link to in their current understanding to which they can add this new piece of knowledge. In the classroom, this often looks like PowerPoint lectures, reading from text or articles, and a training method using steps or procedures.

Reflective Learning: This is all about looking inward and challenging your thoughts, feeling, and biases: the point is to spark transformation. The learner is given the perspective needed to not only see that they can change, but that they want to change. The key is to tie the new perspective to the learner’s personal experience. The goal is not necessarily to add knowledge, but rather to change thinking.

This approach is appropriate for topics like harassment or sensitivity training, health and wellness, marketing approaches, reaching customers, etc. Reflective learning is best achieved by really pushing people to think objectively about topics. This can be done using examples and stories from life to give people the perspective of another person, or by using exaggerated descriptions of everyday norms to put them in a new light. You are trying to give the learner the gift of perspective. In the classroom, this might involve group discussions, instructors promoting an idea or perspective, analyzing material for deeper meaning or context, or collaborative development of ideas.

Experiential Learning: Experiential Learning is best used when you are trying to build competency, skill, or familiarity with a particular method or system. The focus here is to be hands deep in the learning while the skills are being developed in real time. Experiential learning is appropriate for task mastery, skill development, building familiarity with a new process, and problem solving scenarios.  This is best done in partnership with rote and reflective learning. This learning often starts with the delivery of information about a process or procedure, after which learners are given an increasingly difficult task or activity to incorporate or practice the information. This creates an experience where learners can integrate new learning into existing knowledge.  In the classroom, this may involve training scenarios for a new method or process, group problem solving activities that incorporate the actual tools or materials that the learner will be working with, and instructors pushing learners to try and make mistakes.

Think about what you want the learner to learn before choosing a method

Understanding these three methods can allow for far more engagement and meaningful training experiences. The trick is to ask yourself what you are trying to accomplish with this training. Are you looking to add knowledge, challenge past thinking, or develop skills? Once you’re clear on your teaching goals, you can decide on the best approach to take with your students. Teaching to your strengths is comfortable, and teaching for the needs of the learner is commendable. But without understanding the best approaches to use for the material you want to deliver, no one is likely to get the most from your training–especially you.


Roman 3 is an advising and solutions firm that specializes in inspiring progressive action, creating a culture of innovation, and assisting organizations in implementing transformative change. We help you build capacity, collaborate, be progressive, and grow to your full potential. For more information on our services and support check us out at