Using who and what’s in the room


March 23rd, 2011

This week I’m working with a group of people who have come together to learn some new skills. Skills they will be expected, by their employer, to use to design and implement a quite complicated, multi-layered, multi-day event.

Participants have been given a comprehensive manual outlining all the steps and procedures. They have a 60-minute video explaining the same. They have access (face-to-face and electronic) to colleagues with knowledge and experience.

There is lots of information about the content.

The challenge for this training is to take advantage of having people in the room. That means going beyond the information that the participants already have access to, and to move from hub-and-spoke (one-to-many) approaches. For example, PowerPoint presentations, case studies presented by a single person, in fact, any sort of presentation is what I call a one-to-many approach. The assumption behind a one-to-many approach is that everyone *needs* or *wants* to hear what someone else has decided. All done with good intention, of course. But it misses the point that the others in the room may have different knowledge or perspectives that can be shared and explored. And if you’re quick to remind me that there is often important information that people *need* to know for their own safety etc (insert any other reason) then I’ll be quick to remind you that telling people something doesn’t mean they then know it (sometimes you can’t even be sure they have heard it) and in this case, they already have access to all that background information.

Which brings us right back to how to take advantage of having living, breathing bodies in the room. Which brings me back to thinking that we have to create conditions in which the participants can have a visceral experience of learning to complement the more usual, and safer, cerebral experience of learning. More to come.

3 Comments so far

  1. morealtitude on March 23, 2011 1:35 pm

    Yes please! More! I am wrestling with this very thing- how to move away from making a learning event all about content presentation, and instead bringing participants into a more in-depth engagement with that information once they are all together and can share with one another.

    Problem remains though- there are facts that need to be communicated/internalized. How do we make that happen in the context of a learning event?

  2. Dibyendu De on March 23, 2011 3:10 pm

    Loved the content. An example might have illustrated your point better. Curious to know how you create conditions in which participants have a visceral experience of learning?

  3. Viv McWaters on May 6, 2011 1:44 am

    […] My role could best be described as making the best use of the living, breathing bodies here (you) and disrupting set patterns of thinking and […]

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