When you get involved in instructing others, whether students or working professionals, there are five principles you need to know and accept before you start building your learning package:
1. There is no one way of learning for everyone. You will find when preparing a group to teach; some prefer reading a book, some reading cliff notes on the materials with templates, others prefer YouTube, and some prefer having someone show them how to do it.
2. A person’s attention span for learning in class or online is less than an hour. When instructing in-person you give breaks in the session. When instructing online, you need to do the same by having multiple sessions set up, with an ideal duration of less than 50min each.
3. People crave interaction so you cannot simply lecture all day or give them an online course to follow without breaking it up with person-to-person collaboration.
4. Theory is important, think of it as the foundation of a good home. The practical aspects of learning are in building the house. So, having people memorize definitions and then taking a multiple-choice exam will be unproductive. They will forget most of the information and never apply it to their jobs.
5. You will have people who are in your program to learn but you will also have people who were told to attend the lesson or want to “check a box” in their career path. It is only when you have gained their trust and they see you as the SME (subject matter expert) that the relationship will begin to solidify, and you will see more interaction. It’s your job as the instructor /trainer to make this cultural shift come to pass.
Keep in mind, you may not be able to meet in person some of the people you will be teaching. This means all those precious moments between breaks where you spoke one-on-one with an attendee and gained their trust are gone. The way you would be able to gage their behavior in person is limited to an online facial expression.
Always establish a relationship to foster open communication with the participant:
· Instructor = Mentor = Subject Matter Expert
· Student = Participant = Apprentice
Target the 80/20 rule when delivering your materials;20% theory and 80% practice (which includes mentoring, teamwork, and application of the lesson).
Now you can start thinking of how to build your online learning experience. Here is a list of ideas you can incorporate in your training program (they are in no particular order):
Set up the lesson with a case study or scenario so as to incorporate storytelling, making it easier for the participants to follow the discourse.
Creating videos less than 10min long, targeting one particular lesson or method or tool. Make the script and presentation slides available for the participants. Some do like to write on them while watching.
Simulations are hard to do online, but you can do role playing with a script and then have open discussion.
Include mentoring sessions one-on-one but don’t make them mandatory because as stated above, not everyone learns this way.
Have each participant present their status to their peers? Make it 5-10min long where they demonstrate their learning and where they are in their project.
If the participants contribute presentations, follow it up with a peer-to-peer review. This is where the others listen and give constructive feedback to you. You then consolidate it making it anonymous and share it with the presenter.
Have live sessions with the group where you share material highlights, past examples, and Q&A. Make sure you open up with a check-in and close-out, with a take-away as well as a check-out. Remember to target 50min sessions.
Foster communications within the group by using a discussion platform. Give an open-ended question to the group. Have each respond to it and respond to their colleagues.
Conduct innovation sessions as brainstorming sessions. Use the white board to have people put in their comments.
Use a pedagogy method – crossover learning where the participant learns a method or tool, then give them a couple of days to a week for them to use it in their environment. Bring the group together and have each member report how they applied their learning in practice.
Use the gamification method to keep participants focused throughout your program:
Visual progress: show them where they are at in their lessons / journey…Pass=Green and Fail=Red.
Use badges or the point-system to have them keep score on extracurricular work, i.e. bonus assignments or teamwork.
Notifications of upcoming events or highlight a participant’s bio every week.
Write a book or have a blog. Credibility is what the participants look for in an instructor. Others want to have something they can use as a reference after they complete your program.
Want to read inspirational stories that make you think? go to our Anna & Dude series.
Let us know what you think with your comments….