As a facilitator of adult learning, I can use a variety of tools to assess participants’ changing knowledge and skills. But I am always excited to find an idea that involves the learner in reflecting on his or her own change. This simple strategy – Before and After Illustration – can be used with most content and only takes a few minutes.
1. Ask everyone to draw a line down the middle of a piece of paper.
2. At the beginning of your session, direct learners to draw an image on the left side that represents the topic. This image can be a symbol, a stick figure – something simple. Emphasize that no artistic talent is needed.
3. Near the end of your session, ask learners to draw an image on the right side that represents the topic now that they have explored it with you.
4. Direct everyone to pair up or share with colleagues at their table to discuss the changes in their images, perceptions and knowledge base.
Follow steps 1-3. Then ask participants to take a photo of their paper and email it to you. Share your screen and open up your email for everyone to see the photos. (I use a dedicated Gmail account for this purpose so that no one sees any confidential email messages.)
Want more ideas to wake up your training? Attend one of my sessions at ATD ICE 2019 in Washington, D.C., check out my newest book here, or contact me to discuss bringing virtual training to your company.
Most audiences are comprised of extroverts and introverts, and lots of people who consider themselves a bit of both. In Susan Cain’s insightful book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking (2012), the author describes the “rubber band theory” of personality, in which we can be elastic and stretch ourselves, but only so far. The introverts in your audience may need to stretch slowly to become comfortable with group work. The extroverts in your audience may need to have some structures that encourage them to listen and reflect.
High-octane professional learning in groups requires participants to engage with one another. Yet, when we ask people to turn and talk or meet someone new, there is often a silent groan. Sometimes even an audible one! Many of us dread having to engage with strangers. “Can’t I just sit and get the information?” we silently lament. It is tempting for facilitators to avoid interactive experiences so that they don’t have to deal with The Groan. However, if we want rich, robust learning, we have to be prepared to push through the groan and get people interacting.
1. To kick-start this engagement, arrange for each person to introduce themselves to a neighbor right near the beginning of the session. The sooner you can decrease the discomfort of sitting among strangers, the quicker your learners will be ready to learn and share. I usually do this within the first five minutes of any session.
2. Make the initial discussion activity novel or fun (but related to your content.) Instead of “Share your name and where you’re from,” try one of these:
3. Throughout the day, expand comfort zones by asking participants to talk with people who are not seated next to them. If I have a full day with a group, I usually have everyone talk with neighbors in the first morning block, stand and find someone at another table during the second morning block, and then I may purposefully reseat everyone for an activity in the afternoon. By slowly expanding the networking circle, I facilitate opportunities for new perspectives and fresh ideas – key to a successful learning experience!
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Anne Beninghof is passionate about teaching and learning.
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