Well Designed Learning – Part 1

Image Courtesy - dexigner.com

Image Courtesy – dexigner.com

As promised in my previous post – Cheerless Hands at Work – here’s some bits of thoughts to ‘designing a learning intervention’.

One of the most prevailing practices as part of Learning Needs Analysis is asking the employees about the kind of learning workshop they wish to attend. This exercise is mostly done annually, administered till senior middle management and could be for behavioral or skill development purposes.

Typically a list of most celebrated workshops is circulated and employees are requested to select the most appealing options; a standard list contains:

1 Work-life Balance
2 Time Management
3 Interpersonal Communication
4 Performance Management
5 Change Management
6 Decision Making
7 Language Skills
8 Others

The list could be longer and the workshop-names may vary.

Of course, this exercise seems like a fair one because the employees are getting a chance to select what they wish to learn.
But this exercise is like buying a book without reading the preface or the table of contents!

I.e., this exercise is flawed because there’s no indication that:

1 – why a workshop has been selected
2 – what challenges the employee is facing
3 – which aspects will be part of the workshop-content

To summarize, there’s no clue that why a workshop should be done and how; and the result is a potpourri of whatever!

If an exercise such as this should be conducted at all then it should be supported by more features such as:

1 the employees can express the challenges they are facing – best done face to face and an appropriate batch-wise workshop should be designed.

2 an effectiveness evaluation to be executed – could be a pre/post evaluation for learning and behavioral changes or a project based assessment for the batch-mates.

3 to further notch it up, you may regularly conduct case-study based assignments for the workshop(s) they attend – this is just to keep the momentum flowing.

When the employees go through such a condensed and focused workshop; the learning is lasting and the environment fun!

Look forward to Part 2 of Well Designed Learning!

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Fun and Learning

Image Courtesy - funeducationalapps.com

Image Courtesy – funeducationalapps.com

When you close your eyes and think of the word ‘FUN’. Do you picture yourself as:

– Trekking on Himalayas or the Alps?
– Some amazing family or friend’s time?
– Sitting on a beach with a drink in one hand and a crisp in the other?
– Anything else (it’s your idea of fun, you can think of something else)?

Now who doesn’t want to have such fun in each moment of their conscious life and in fact, if each moment were fun, who would want to sleep at all?!

Additionally, as seekers of fun, humans have created some amazing and blaring ways to have fun. It’s an essential part of our progress-chart.

We want to stay in fun and be with fun; this idea of fun is so contagious that it has percolated down to the way we learn. And why not, if we are going to change or upgrade our knowledge, skills or attitude, it should be fun.

But in this blind-love for fun, we by-pass the essence of learning because what we become interested in is the non-stop engagement of mind. The facilitator of the learning is looked upon as an entertainer and a person who can humor people for those few hours; (unfortunately) playfulness is constantly sought.

It’s very important here that we re-visit the adult-learning principles by Malcolm Knowles, a fundamentalist influencer of learning theories:

• Adults are internally motivated and self-directed
• Adults bring life experiences and knowledge to learning experiences
• Adults are goal oriented
• Adults are relevancy oriented
• Adults are practical
• Adult learners like to be respected

Yes, such people do exist and they exist in all of us!

Getting lost in irrelevant gimmicks, humor or activities is as bad as facilitating no learning at all. The more contextual the learning is and the more it is designed keeping these principles in mind, the more progressive the environment will be – now that’s fun!

So here are a few things you can ignite the atmosphere with:

• Debates
o Top tip – be a sharp moderator

• Role-plays
o Top tip – have an eye for de-brief

• Team-tasks
o Top tip – brief and de-brief; practice, practice and practice this

• Self-assessments or case-studies
o Top tip – don’t copy, create one

Could be many more; do share your thoughts in the comment section!

‘Pull-learning’

When I saw Mr. Basu for the first time in my Literature class, my instant reaction was, “who appointed him as a teacher?” You see, it’s about the way he sheepishly found his way to his desk; tired and uninterested in the charms of the youth there. I was confirmed that the next one hour is going to be pallid. So, I started doing my favorite thing; writing my name in different fonts and sizes. I paid only an impulsive attention to him. Yes, he did make sense but I guess I was really put-off by his slouched and underprivileged presentation by now. I remember it was the 3rd or the 4th class that I realized that he, in fact, is enlightening!

In my second job as a teacher, I went through a train-the-teacher program. The concepts that instantly made me nostalgic:

  1. Enter the class like a lion would. Believe that you own the territory. They made everybody practice this over and over!
  2. Have an expression of chic confidence. Captivate them with your elegance.
  3. Greet them the way you are welcomed at a five star hotel.
  4. If meeting for the first time, design an engaging platform for introductions.
  5. Introduce the objective(s) of the session so plainly that the results are easily envisioned.

Mr. Basu is still one of my most favorite teachers.

Generating Their Interest

“I will make sure that this is an interactive session”, the trainer said. He asked questions, tried to make people talk. But why was I still weary? I wanted to sink my head in a basin, just couldn’t stop yawning.

Everybody seemed thoughtful but when the trainer poked, no answers and even  the pin didn’t drop! I thought, ‘weird people, show interest but don’t talk’.

Now, I was proved wrong at lunch. They were normal, talkative humans. So, upon probing (my forte), here’s what they told me:

  • I wish he looked happier; should’ve smiled at least once.
  • He seemed dragging himself; too casual in body-language.
  • Aye, he didn’t look at me even once.
  • He was either talking to himself or to the white-board. Just couldn’t hear him.
  • His (only two!) examples were too centered on ‘his life and his work’. There was no food for thought!
  • He pranced amongst his questions; should’ve waited a few seconds for the answer. In fact, he even answered his own questions.

The above proves this for sure that when in authority, you got to be careful!

You can also consider these tips when speaking publicly:

  1. About body-language, just imagine that this is the best day of your life and you have angels sitting in front of you. How would you behave yourself then?
  2. Feel good about yourself. Wear something that adds to your charm and that you are comfortable in. Spend extra may be. The difference will definitely be noticed by you and others.
  3. Read, read and discuss the read. Practice the read. Don’t discount on building knowledge.
  4. Since you have your (imagined or factual) perfect audience there, give them a few more seconds to give their best-answer.
  5. To insinuate a point, devise various ways – from physical to mental activities. Be ready to repeat yourself too.
  6. This one’s my favorite – keep a check on their responses. Don’t let any confusion or smirk go. Stay on your feet and reiterate with a different strategy.

Have a confused smirk or something nice to say? Do leave a comment.

Abbie Hoffman said – Never impose your language on people you wish to reach.