Hey! Corporate facilitator, trainer, enabler, instructional designer…… whatever you call yourself. Why are your participants seeing their course material for the first time when they hit the classroom? Is this your version of content shock and awe? Do you think it’s a winning strategy? Do you not remember your time at university or college?
(Just in case, I’ll remind you – you got text lists well before you walked in to your first lecture or tutorial)
I am consistently amazed at the number of clients who hand out course material on the first day of a short – course. Logistically it seems sensible: send all the material to one place and save the head-ache and cost of despatching it individually. But in today’s web enabled world it seems pretty lazy – particularly when you’re charging upwards of $600 per student, per day for a certification or you have been given the time of your best and brightest talent.
From a learning outcomes perspective it just doesn’t make sense. Classroom time is expensive – so don’t you want to make the most of it? It’s likely to be far more effective if participants can pre-conceptualise before they arrive. If you’re doing your job, they might have ideas, identify gaps and strengths and, if you’re really doing well, perhaps even talk about your content together first. Makes sense, right? So what are the impediments?
Argument 1: The ‘they won’t get it’ argument. This is an acknowledgement that you think your participants are stupid or your course materials are so heavily summarised they are likely to be useless to anyone in 6 months. Your participants aren’t stupid and they deserve rich content course materials that let them learn ‘their way’ and at their own pace. Here’s a great example:
Whilst you may not have the budget to build a feature rich iPad app for your course, tools like Prezi can be used to generate some very impressive content summaries.
Argument 2: The ‘shhh, don’t tell anyone’ argument. Here your content is so secret you don’t want it ‘getting out’ before the course. Chances are your program runs over weeks or months and it is naive to imagine it won’t be discussed. In many cases the discussions can be dangerous because only one party has the knowledge you’ve imparted. Treat your participants like big people – they can handle it.
Argument 3: The DRM/IP argument. This one has some merit. You’ve spent years, millions of dollars and have built a brand on IP. You don’t want to lose it and that is a sound argument. My question is this: If you value your IP that much, why is the only protection you have of it the expectation that no one will copy it the old-fashioned way (typist are cheap in some parts of the world)? Invest in a DRM solution, there are plenty out there that work and they permit so much more in terms of content capability.
The theme of this series is ‘Nothing has changed…. But everything is changing’. Nothing has changed – people learn best when given the chance to pre-read and pre-contextualise. Universities have applied this fundamental for centuries and it will be a long time before we replace paper based notes and books altogether…. but everything is changing…. the digital age brings some new opportunities and challenges…. and when your charging more than $600 a day or looking to get the most out of your talent isn’t any logistical headache worth it, particularly if you offer your participants a richer learning environment?
Ask yourself these questions….
What has really changed in adult education in the last 20 years? What about the last century? While we’re at it….. What about the last millennium?
I’ve had the pleasure of spending more than a few hours with a wide range of L&D professionals over the past few years and, as a self confessed techno-junkie, I am always interested in understanding how they are using technology to enhance the outcomes of their training programs. What typically comes out of the conversation is that beyond the medium used to write things down, or present ideas to people, the fundamental education model hasn’t changed much. It’s been given a bit of a face lift and a label – but blended learning has been around for a long, long while.
If we go back thousands of years, we find evidence of a blended learning approach among Australian aboriginal tribes like the Jaburara from the Pilbara region of Western Australia. Their iPads™ were the walls of caves – the petroglyphs etched there more than 20,000 years ago remain. Their content was rich – Ted™ Talks came in the form of intricate performances where complex stories were created and told with many of the ultimate tests of competency coming as part of highly complex initiation rituals often lasting many days.
You see – nothing has changed…. blended learning has been around for a long, long time. But everything is changing – over the next several weeks I’ll be looking at a range of technologies that, if used appropriately, stand to improve the way we learn. I wonder if the content on my iPad™ will last 20,000 years…
Humans have been learning without structured teaching for millions of years. Since the first person burnt themselves with fire, or realised they got sick if they ate a particular berry, learning has just happened…. often by accident.
Most of what we learn comes from observation. Observation of ourselves, observation of our peers, observation of our environment and often from this observation comes innovation. We observe, we learn, we try something, we observe, we learn, we innovate…
To gain knowledge, comprehension, or mastery of through experience or study…. To fix in the mind or memory…. To acquire experience of or an ability or a skill in…. To become aware…. To become informed of…. from the Middle English ’lernen’, from the Old English ’leornian’.
To invent or begin to apply (methods, ideas, etc.)…. To begin or introduce (something new) for or as if for the first time… from the Latin ’innovāre’ - to renew and ’novāre’ - to make new, from ’novus’ new.
Without learning would there be any innovation in the world? Without innovation or endeavour, would there be anything to learn?
This site doesn’t aim to answer these questions – we’ll leave that for you. What we do want to do is give you a place to find up to date information on how people are using technology to innovate, learn, teach or just make the world a better place.
After all, it’s better not to have to endure the burnt fingers or get sick from the berries…. isn’t it?