Pushing boundaries

July 3rd, 2008

I’ve been searching for ways to encourage training participants to write their own manual, in real time, while taking part in a training program that they will later deliver to others. I can hear a whole lot of people out there thinking, ‘oh, that’s train-the-trainer’ stuff. For some reason the term ‘train-the-trainer’ leaves me cold and doesn’t quite capture the messy, organic, spontaneous and sometimes random way that training and learning merge. I’ve tried the training manual approach and it doesn’t work, so I’m looking for more participatory and dynamic approaches. So if anyone has any ideas I’d be most grateful.

So there I was going through my bookshelf looking for inspiration and I stumbled upon a couple of essays I wrote when I did my Masters. No wonder I ended up blogging when I submitted essays titled ‘Collecting Clouds – a conversation with myself about action research’. How pretentious! So I had a look to see what the 10-year-younger me wrote back in 1998. I was surprised to be reminded of setting up a discussion group for my fellow students. We were all course work students from across the country who came together only twice a year for a week at a time. The email discussion list was to help keep us connected in-between. Now I’d use a social networking site like collectiveX or ning.┬áSo even way back then I was ‘expanding the event horizon’ (hat tip to Matt Moore). Stay tuned for a podcast hosted by Matt Moore where Geoff Brown and I ramble on about facilitating and the unexpectedness of it all.

2 Comments so far

  1. Johnnie Moore on July 6, 2008 8:35 pm

    Hi Viv, I’ve been thinking about something similar. I notice how resistant I am to creating manuals about facilitation. I’ve also noticed people often assume that the way they choose to record something is a good way for others to understand it. (For me, that’s most apparent when people start drawing me diagrams to explain something). So I like the idea of inviting participants to create their own record/stimulus whatever. (I’m reluctant to call it a training manual.)

    Maybe one could offer some kind of reflective activity like: what are the most memorable things you’ve learnt and how did you learn them? (Perhaps set the frame pretty wide so it could embrace stuff like learning to ski or sing or how to deal with a difficult boss, not just conventional work stuff). Bearing that in mind, what would be a good way to help embody what you’ve learnt so far…

    Would be interested to hear where you go with this, Viv.

  2. Viv McWaters on July 7, 2008 5:06 pm

    Thanks Johnnie – I’m in the midst of a two-day facilitation training as I write this. I’ve provided participants with a blank, personalised not book to write their own process notes. I’ll be interested to see how they use this tomorrow. Today we went to another space to do some improv and action methods and a few said they were getting anxious to get back to their note books to write down what we’d done. I like your suggestion to set a wide frame and come at learning from a completely different activity. I’ll try that one! And I’ll update how it work.

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