When our company’s vice president of applied learning, Vicki Halsey, asked a group of learning professionals to answer the question, What do you do?, she got answers such as, “We design classes” and “We deliver training.”
Halsey was looking for a more foundational response. So when she rephrased the question to, “What do you REALLY do?” the learning professionals identified the true answer: They designed and conducted classes to set people up for success. Their goal was to enable people to do their best work.
To do this, a huge paradigm shift was required on the part of the instructional designers. Mindsets needed to shift from seeing the trainer/teacher as the smart one to seeing the learners as the smart ones. It also meant changing the learning design from one where the teacher was doing most of the talking to one where the learners were doing most of the talking.
In traditional learning experiences, the teacher teaches the content. People sit down in class and, for the next two to four hours, the teacher educates learners on the topic. A better design, embraced widely today, is to give students as much content as possible before they come to class, which cuts down on class time used to deliver content. According to Halsey, 70 percent of actual teacher/learner time together should be spent practicing, honing participants’ ability to apply the learning, and recognizing key concepts in action.
That’s one of the reasons we’ve re-identified “learning” objectives as “doing” objectives in our new programs. The goal is for everyone to walk out of class confident and competent to demonstrate the new behaviors they have learned. Today’s organizations can’t afford to have people sitting on the bench—everybody needs to play. When trainer/teachers lead with doing objectives, back them up with learning objectives, and then transfer energy to the participants. People will have a better chance of applying new skills and shining in their workplace.
Here are four principles to become more doing-centric in your designs:
Be clear about your “doing” objectives. Think about what you want people doing differently as a result of their time in the classroom, and design your session so participants are actually doing what you want them to do.
Keep them engaged: The person doing the talking is doing the learning. To get learners in the driver’s seat, instructors can start class with participants identifying and sharing what they already know about the topic, and also what they want to know. Then use this information to design an experience where participants walk away able to identify and share what they’ve learned and how it connects to the skills they need to succeed.
Divide up the teaching. For example, once people know a model being taught, have them write a case study and give it to the next table. Have the next table find something you just taught in that case study. Or, have a table group share one of their own situations and have the next table solve it.
Create confident learners. Use activities where participants can check to make sure they have the right answer to alleviate embarrassment about being only partially right. Your goal is to make learners feel important, confident and competent.
TAKE AN ACTIVE APPROACH
Learners today have many other things they could do with the time they spend in the classroom with you. Remember the 30/70 principle: Spend 30 percent of the time teaching actual content and 70 percent of the time identifying the doing objectives, creating confident learners, and practicing new skills. Take time to research and understand different types of teaching activities and different ways individuals learn best. Your goal? A class so great, everyone gets an “A”!