Thursday, October 16, 2008

Learning by doing - a practical example

A couple of weeks ago, I designed and delivered training on 'how to develop effective instructor-led training (ILT)'. My audience was a group of instructional designers who had some experience with developing elearning but had not designed/developed an ILT. I had 3 days from 'conceptualization' to 'delivery' and it couldn't have been more rapid than it was!

So, I quickly put together a blended learning training plan. Here's how it was:-
1) Classroom session - Face-to-face (0.5 day) - Introduction to ILT - Development process/typical components/walkthrough of each deliverable/formats etc.
2) Self-paced reading - Offline - ( 2 days) Participants had to review cuidelines to create an ILT, sample ILTs, library of instructional strategies used for ILTs, specific formats/templates.
3) Applying the learning - Offline - (5 days) Participants were given sample content and asked to develop an ILT (all components - instructor guide/student guide/presentation deck). I offered some query handling and support here.
4) Group presentation/Review Workshop (1 day) - Face-to-face - All participants presented all the components that they had created for the sample content and the group reviewed and critiqued the same. I offered my expertise and guidance and led the discussion and the reflection activities. At the end of the day-long workshop - we generated guidelines/best practices for developing effective ILTs. The guidelines and best practices were used to create project-specific design and storyboarding checklists.

Not only was this the most practical approach to training, the participants also enjoyed the entire 'learning-by-doing' experience. I am glad that I didn't overload my audience with 'gyan' about what is effective classroom training. They went through one and enjoyed it and I feel quite confident about the group creating similar learning experiences for their audience!

At the time when I was designing this plan, my customers for this training were a bit apprehensive. They were not sure if I could not ‘tell’ and still make people ‘learn’. The trainees also expected a series of classroom training sessions where I would describe and explain things about 'effective ILTs'. But I stopped myself from following the rut. I stopped myself at all places where I was tempted to say the obvious, tempted to share my expertise and give a lot of information, or generally just talk about good things. Instead, by allowing my participants to learn by doing – by actually creating an ILT, I gave them opportunities to make mistakes and yet be open to learn from them in a non threatening environment. Instead of a trainer, I took the role of a facilitator and helped them learn from themselves…

I keep implementing a similar approach in many other training sessions. Learning by doing works every time!