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!

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!