Recently, I attended a two day training workshop. The subject of the workshop was improved performance in managing projects at work. The facilitator was interesting and knowledgable, the content relevant, and well explained. I met some really interesting and talented people on the course. The room was pleasant and the learning environment great. The food was lovely. So why was I so frustrated and restricted for two days?
I was disconnected from the web… and it really hurt.
Over the last four years I have become increasingly connected. All my work is in a cloud, I use Zoho Project, Dropbox, Evernote, Ning, Posterous, Flavorsme, Tungle, Gmail, Google docs, Facebook and Twitter, and all of these applications need me to be online and connected. When I do not have connection to the Internet I have lost my knowledge base, my tools and my ability to perform my role.
But even more interesting to me, is that I use all of these tools to learn. I create my own knowledge base for each topic of interest. I add in tools that support my performance in the topic area. I connect with people who use the same tools, or who have free resources and tools to share. I watch video. I listen to podcasts. I read blogs and resources. I connect with fellow learners in online communities and groups. My learning takes place online. So when these tools are taken away I am back to learning not as an active and independent learner, but as a passive recipient of content knowledge. I am no longer active and in control of my own learning experience. I am no longer practicing the skills I need.
As a teacher of teachers, I am very conscious that we must ensure learning fits the learner. I am also conscious of the 10:20:70 rule. In this ratio, 10% is devoted to concepts, ideas, principles, and theories. 20% to discussion and reflection on the content. These discussions are usually best structured around real or simulated case studies. However, by far the greatest time, 70% should be given to practicing skills, using the knowledge and the learning from shared meanings and understandings. Even more important is feedback from teachers and trainers on learners’ performance as learners practice and improve their skills and understanding.
Before I attend any further training, I am going to be asking some questions:
1. Will I have access to the Internet throughout the course?
2. Can I bring and use my own device and connect it to the Internet? Will I have a power socket?
3. How much time in the course will be spent learning concepts, and principles?
4. How much course time will be devoted to group work? Discussion? Case studies?
5. How much time will I have to practice and apply the knowledge, skills and values I have learnt?
6. Who will provide me with feedback on my performance?
7. Will I have a clear guide to measure my performance against?
8. How many times will I receive feedback on my performance?
9. Will I have access to the resources from the training when the course is completed, and will I be connected to other learners in the course?
If you think about the courses, workshops or training that you deliver, what would be your answers to these questions be? As a result of my two day workshop, I am creating an online resource for each of my workshop sessions, so that have a place to share, practice their skills and connect with each other. The tool I am using at present to achieve this is Posterous, however, there are a range of other tools that would achieve the same outcome. What we as teachers and learners have to remember is that people learn differently, the gather their knowledge, practice their skills and connect with each other in an increasingly smaller world. Thanks to technology learning is not longer passive, it is active, personal and shared.
I value your thoughts and feedback.