Check Learning to Verify Knowledge Transfer

“Tell them what you are going to tell them; tell them; then tell them what you told them.” The idea is  something heard three times is more likely to be remembered.auditorium-pxhere There is a better way to make sure your student learn material and for you to know they learned what you taught. Conduct checks on learning during and at the end of your training. Checking learning ensures they heard and retained what you taught. Two simple ways to check learning are simple exercises and questioning.

An exercise that allows students to work through a problem using information provided verbally or in writing allows them to develop skills from their new found knowledge. A short story with a series of questions to answer modeling your lesson reinforces your teaching. Students work alone or in cooperative learning groups and report back to the the class their results. The exercise can be harder by asking students to work through a problem without the prompt questions. For example they are given a scenario. They are expected to explain which widget is the best for the situation and why. They also are expected to explain how they would use the widget. The back report reinforces the lessons with the whole class one more time.teamwork-pxhere.jpg

The easiest check on learning is questioning. Ask the students a group of questions. They parrot back the correct answers if they memorized the material. Ask questions that require students to explain concepts like, “Who can tell me when a widget is the best choice?” or “What is the best way to use a widget in the following situation…?” require students to think about their responses and apply what they learned in their response. These questions demonstrate understanding versus simply knowledge.

A spin off of the questioning check on learning model requires each student to write a question about the lesson on one side of an index card and the answer on the back. Use the cards as questions in a quiz show like review at the end of class. Student contestants will be able to challenge the ‘correct’ answer provided on the card. Award bonus points for the team if they successfully challenge the ‘correct’ answer. This process allows the class to correct misunderstood information and research correct answers further embedding new found knowledge and skills.

Relay-pxhere.jpgStudents and trainers come together for the purpose of transferring knowledge and skills to students. Each has a responsibility to enable learning. The trainer’s responsibility is to ensure the knowledge and skills are received, understood, and usable when students leave the training. Checks on learning completed throughout the lesson provide necessary feedback on the success of the transfer. Conducting a review at the end of class by repeating what you previously said is easy. Completing an in-depth check on learning as a review is harder, but shows what has been learned. Students and instructors can leave the training environment confident the new knowledge and skills have been passed and are ready to be used upon returning to their daily assignments.


Photo Credits

All photos from pxhere.com a website offering Creative Commons Zero License images.  No photographer information was available for any of the images.

Student Engagement

Ask, Pause, Call

Good instructors engage their students during the training.QuestionMark.byme.png Inexperienced instructors struggle to learn ways to involve their students. A simple, yet effective method is Ask, Pause, Call.

Every instructor has experienced the long silence after asking a question about a point he is sure the students know the answer. The teacher knows understanding this point is necessary before presenting the rest of the information. He stands in front of the room wondering what to say next.

The Ask, Pause, Call method provides a means for instructors to engage their students and ensure the class is receiving and understanding the information. The first step is as simple as it sounds; ask the question. The next is to pause. This allows the students to think about the response to your inquiry. Next ask a particular student to answer the question.

Use this model from the beginning of your class for greatest effectiveness. When used from the beginning of the class you establish the model as the standard. Students will expect you to use Ask, Pause, Call through out the class and will expect to participate.

Pause.byme.JPGAsking questions through out your training helps students pay attention. They never know when you will call upon them to answer a question. It allows them to make connections to other learning and experiences. Their answers let you know if they are receiving and understanding the information, or if you need to represent the information using a different approach.

You want to know that all your students are learning. It is important to call on everyone in the class, not just those who always raise their hands. Every class has a few students who hang back and chose not to participate, however the only way to know if they are tracking the information is to engage them too.

An effective method to drag those shy students out is to reverse the model. First call on the student by name. Pause to ensure you have their attention. Ask the question.

Asking a question that only requires a yes or no response is a good way to begin. After you receive the answer, follow up by asking the student a why or how question. If the answers are what you expected, finish up by summarizing raisedhand-steven-lilleytheir answers to make the learning point. If they are a bit off, follow up with leading follow up questions that tends to suggest the correct answer.

Ask, Pause, Call is an effective model to engage students in discussion during training. Selecting different students during the training ensures you know all are tracking the important information you are teaching. Asking questions of your learners through out the training keeps them engaged improving retention and understanding. Including students in the lesson allows them to connect the information you present with prior learning so it make sense for them. The next time you teach, ask a question, pause for thought, then call on someone to answer.


Photo Credits

Question Mark and Pause Button by Author

Raised Hand by Steven Lilley at http://www.flickr.com under a creative commons attribution license.

A Call to Action

bullhornspeaker-firefightersdaughter-CalltoActio

I recently listened to a short piece on my local public radio station from the TED Hour (http://www.npr.org/2015/02/06/379184277/what-s-the-antidote-to-political-apathy). The speaker talked about getting people to the polls and ways to overcome apathetic voters. As I listened, a light bulb appeared over my head about a way to improve training. If trainers expect students to change behaviors based on their training, they need to issue a call to action to participants. A call to action ensures students leave knowing how to change their behavior, possess excitement to change, and where to find help when they run into road blocks.

In this TED talk, the speaker noted in an unscientific study he conducted that in local publications, the editors would include information about how to contact a local charity, the hours of a new eatery, or the phone number to the box office of a show they reviewed. The reader knows how to learn more. When the local periodicals ran political pieces they often present information in a fair and balance way. They explained the issues about the topic. They did not include information about websites, phone numbers for involved organizations, or other information to make the reader take action on that subject.

Often trainers and leaders behave the same way. They call for changes. They show people one way to do something that works in the classroom. They may even provide some sort of high energy event that fires up the students and employees so they feel motivated. When they return to their cubical, they stumble on road blocks and because the trainer or leader provided no information about where seek help, the change they and their proteges hope for starves on the vine.

The fix is easy. After providing students their call to action, provide resources to use for follow up. When students return to their offices and run into a roadblock, they know where to find more information to help overcome the road block and successfully implement the desired change.

Provision of follow up resources requires more than a short bibliography at the end of your note-taking guide or a sheet tucked into the back of a participant folder. The trainer should call attention to the resources. He should provide screen shoots of the websites. He should point out email addresses and phone numbers of people who are willing to help. He should also provide a short sales pitch for each of the follow up resources provLearningSailing-John-ModsOK-croppedided so the student understands help really is there.

Many trainers already provide such information and calls to action for their students. Adapt a page from Keith Ferrazzi’s book Never Eat Alone by sending out a group email reminding students to look up a website, read an attached file, or how to find a book.  They are more likely to click on a link and incorporate what you taught them after leaving your class.

At they end of your next training, issue a call to action for change. Motivate students to implement what they have learned. Sell them on the resources available to help them over hurdles. When you issue a call to action, change will happen.

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Photo credits:  Both photos downloaded from flickr.com under a Creative Commons license and modified to fit the space here.

Speaker photo by firefightersdaughter.  Sail boat photo by John, yes, just John.

Overcoming Hurdles to Change

I recently listed to a short piece on my local public radio station from the TED Hour (http://www.npr.org/2015/02/06/379184277/what-s-the-antidote-to-political-apathy). The speaker talked about getting people to the polls and ways to overcome apathetic voters. As I listened, a light bulb appeared over my head about a way to improve training. If you want to changed behaviors based on what you train, you need to issue a call to action to the participants. When students leave, they need to know what to do, the excitement to change, and ways to find help when they run into road blocks.

hurdle.melinda.huntlyIn this TED talk, the speaker noted in an unscientific study he conducted that in local publications, the editors would include information about how to contact a local charity, the hours of a new eatery, or the the phone number to the box office of a show they reviewed. The reader know how they could learn more.

When the local periodicals ran political pieces they often present information in a fair and balance way. They explained the issues about the topic. They did not include information about websites, phone numbers for involved organizations, or other information to make the reader take action on that subject.

Often trainers and leaders behave the same way. They call for changes. They show people one way to do something that works in the classroom. They may even provide some sort of high energy event that fires up the students and employees so they feel motivated. When they return to their cubical, they hit road blocks and because the trainer or leader provided no information about where seek help, the change they and their proteges hope for starves on the vine.

The fix is easy. After providing students their call to action, provide resources to use for follow up. When students return to their offices and run into a roadblock, they know where to find more information to help overcome the road block and successfully implement the desired change.

Provision of follow up resources requires more than a short bibliography at the end of your note-taking guide or a sheet tucked into the back of a participant folder. The trainer should call attention to the resources. He should provide screen shoots of the websites. He should point out email addresses and phone numbers of people who are willing to help. He should also provide a short sales pitch for each of the follow up resources provided so the student understands help really is there.

At they end of your next training, issue a call to action for change. Motivate students to implement what they have learned. Sell them on the resources available to help them over hurdles after the training ends. When you do, change will happen.

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Photo credit: Melinda Huntley, flikr.com  https://www.flickr.com/photos/piratepix2/4540203839/in/photolist-7VcJqx-GY8o3-8hDo4J-z3Akfw-7Laq5N-7VfYnb-84VQLx-eonsYx-bER96W-rkfoWv-9HcTG2-fEQaXu-4gXG8H-aoi8Ah-fdTQxU-82taWc-dgMHan-bmHArb-bzCtcn-6SH1c9-dAxF2t-9MMqtH-dAxEk4-bTKTPZ-rhcUEV-m5EDBX-xmhWs9-84VWcY-8hDfW9-H9y4B-8hDpi3-dAxExk-8hA7mV-8dTP4e-dAxEqM-r3PBRy-r3NJrC-rkfqt8-rkfpsF-8hA6ZV-82LnjE-my6DVw-eefeA1-6EPXjR-2AwKvD-rtAXvb-7Aw3ZS-ie4JrZ-7Aw4sU-pyEHWJ

Oh No! Mandatory Training!

Mandatory refresher training…the bane of every instructor. Frequently the trainer is provided a lesson plan and a slide deck, a period of time to fill and appropriate training facilities (maybe). The instructor is expected to stand before the group of experienced students and present the material determined by management as essential. The result one to four hours of heavy eyelids, sore bottoms and the sending and receiving of text messages on mobile devices by distracted employees who fail to pay attention. They learn nothing. You can improve the situation by recognizing that the occupants of the room possess hundreds of collective hours of experience; many more qualified to teach than you. Developing methods to engage, entertain and focus students during mandatory training separates the run-of-the mill instructor from the master trainer. Nothing that follows is new, but I challenge you to adopt one or two of these ideas for your next refresher training and take your first step down the road to become a master trainer.M.CoghlanGpDisc

Facilitation is a training process that focuses on the student rather than the instructor. Generally facilitate means to make easier, to promote or to serve as a catalyst (Google 2014). An instructor who engages in facilitation recognizes the expertise of the students and develops a learning environment that permits those with various experiences on a given topic to share what they know allowing the rest of the students to assimilate those experiences into new ideas on their own. This process allows the students to come to conclusions on their own.

Instructors are reluctant to conduct facilitated discussions for fearing accusations they did not follow the program of instruction required by management. A well thought out training event covers all the points required by management. The difference between an interesting, facilitated training event and being buried by slides is how the material is presented. The traditional, well-known, boring method of lecturing while showing a slide deck echoing everything the presenter says only ensures the required material has been presented. It does nothing to demonstrate knowledge transfer, but does provide coverage for the tushy if ever called to task for providing training on a given topic. A facilitated training however requires student participation during a guided discussion about the same points made in a lecture. In order to participate effectively, instructors must possess complete understand the topic, and students should have some knowledge.

Preparation for and conduct of a facilitated training event requires greater preparation and execution time. To prepare for a facilitated discussion,

  • Review and understand key learning points of the lesson,
  • Convert learning points into discussion points,
  • Prepare questions to requiring discussions to answer, and
  • Prepare to guide student discussion by infusing information and making corrections,
  • During the conduct of class,
  • Ask students questions that require thought and development of opinions,
  • Ask students what they think of points made by others during the discussion,
  • Require students to justify opinions based on facts or prior learning,
  • Ask students if they agree or disagree with other students points and explain why or not.

As the class demonstrates understanding of each point, the instructor segues into the next discussion point by either asking a pre-planned question, or taking advantage of a point raised by a student. Ensuring many students participate. Use the following formula to include all students:

  • ask the question,
  • pause to wait for students to think about the answer,
  • call on a student to answer.

When attempting to pull in the quieter students, it is important to ensure to ask them something there is no wrong answer. By doing so, you allow them to participate without loosing face. As the discussion moves along, show the required slides and let them speak for them selves allowing students to integrate the information from the slides into what they learned in the discussion.

A quality facilitated discussion during mandatory training improves student participation. Increased participation improves information retention. Increased participation permits the same idea to be expressed more than one way improving understanding by less experienced students. Engaged students are less likely to allow their minds to drift and learn more. Students pay attention when they know anyone can be called upon to answer questions. The slide deck re-enforces points made by the students.

Using a facilitated discussion during mandatory in-service training allows for management and instructors to cover important learning points. A good guided discussion covers all required points by allowing students to express their knowledge of the topic and identifies areas requiring more discussion or information. With more discussion the same idea is expressed in different words increases understanding of the concept. Students become responsible for their learning, more engaged in the process and focused on the class. For your next training event, implement some of these ideas to generate a guided discussion on one or more points. You may be surprised at what YOU learn in the class you are teaching.

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References

Google Search Results “define facilitate” https://www.google.com/search?q=define+facilitate&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a&channel=sb retrieved 4/26/14

U.S. Army. 157-ABIC-3.0 / Army Basic Instructor Course (ABIC) (2011) Army Training Support Center, Ft Eustis, Va

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Photo Credit:  Michael Coghlan.  flickr.com CC license

Better Presentations

Last week I had the opportunity to attend a terrific training presented by Jon Blum of Force Concepts. One thing that set his training apart from others I have attended was his slide deck. He followed two simple rules to keep his slide simple and effective. With some thoughtful planning, a little research and some practice with layout your next presentation can benefit from the same principals Jon employed. The first principle is minimize text. The second is maximize images. Image
The original popular presentation software PowerPoint was named so to help presenters make the points of their presentations powerfully. They were intended to be short and sweet. A common rule is to limit the text on a slide to six words per line and no more than six lines per slide. Often presenters read their slides verbatim which defeats the point of inserting the bullet point on the screen. The audience can read. They came to your presentation to hear what you have to say. If the only thing you say is what is written on your slides, they could have stayed in their offices and read your work. I suggest that you tell your group what your want to say, pause then show the slide and allow them to read the text on their own. The points on your slide should emphasize what you said.
Another great thing Jon did in his presentation was the way he presented the text on the slide. First he discussed the point. Next he showed the text and led a discussion about the point. Upon conclusion of the discussion on that point, he introduced the next point and then revealed the text. The previous line remained visible, but the font was in a light shade of gray drawing the viewer’s eye to the current point. Identifying the few simple words that effectively communicate the idea behind the point of discussion requires you to identify the principals and key points of your presentations.
How many times have you said or hear that a picture is worth 1,000 words; at least a thousand? How many pictures have you seen in a slide presentation? I would guess the answer is few. Today images are inexpensive and plentiful. Choices include charts, graphs, clip art and photographs. Websites such as flickr.com, gettyimages.com and shutterfly.com have a large selection of photos to purchase, within the public domain or under the Creative Commons license. Sometimes finding the right photo or image on line is time consuming, but with the advent of digital photography and paint software you can create your own images that convey your message. The images I use to attract readers to my blog are my own creations or images I found on line available under the Creative Commons license for use by only providing attribution to the person who took the photo.
When selecting an image, pick one that communicates your message. You may use a few words to ensure your point is understood or to ask a question to start a discussion. If you use text with your image, keep it shorter than the suggestions offered above.
Following simple rules improve the slides you use in your presentations. Reduce the text on your slide. Use pictures and communicate 1,000 words without uttering a syllable. It may not always be possible to limit your idea to six words or to one picture, but with practice implementing these principals becomes second nature. As you prepare your next presentation, add a few extra pictures and subtract some words. Your audience will be grateful.

For a more detailed disucssion about improving your presentations, check out my Prezi at http://prezi.com/uaxckg-4fkkn/using-media/. Another great resource is http://www.slideshare.net/ArtilleryMarketing/you-suck-at-powerpoint-12040413.  Update 3/15/14:  57 slides in 18 minutes…exact amount of text during the presentation…zero!!!! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bOYIKJho18I&feature=youtu.be

Photo credit: Kei Kondo add.me flickr.com

Leaders Training Future Leaders

ImageAll trainers are leaders because they influence people in their organizations to accomplish the mission. The flip side to that thought is that all leaders are trainers. In too many organizations however leaders are selected based upon their ability to accomplish tasks more than their ability to influence others and too many organizations fail to train their highest performers to become leaders. Possession of influence is more important to a leader than possessing an ability to complete a task skillfully. Learning how to engage others to influence them to perform is more important skill for leaders than the task to be performed. Teaching the leaders to teach becomes that challenge for the middle and senior leaders of organizations, one that is poorly executed. Consistent leader training and development is critical to any organization’s long term success. Four simple, repeatable steps separate are the foundation of an enduring leadership training program. Those steps are telling, demonstrating, practicing and correcting.

Telling. The quickest way to transfer information is to tell the other person. When sending a message you want the receiver to remember ensure the receiver has a method of recording the information, whether it is a notebook, a voice recorder or a note on their device. Unrecorded information is sure to be forgotten. When someone writes, they remember better in the future and create a record for future reference when the teacher is absent. During the review of the lesson, the teach can have the student read back the notes ensuring all important details were discussed.

Demonstrating. You demonstrate the task. In this blog, demonstration is listed as the second step, but in practice, it is the first. When others work for you, you demonstrate leadership for them daily. When you take time to counsel the new leader, you demonstrate the importance of counseling. Your methods become the lesson as the techniques and practices you expect them to employ in their leadership role. Counseling is just one area, but the example crosses many such topical areas.

Practicing. At first you may be inclined to linger. This may not always work well. For the same reasons it may not be practical for your trainee to sit in on a counseling session with a fellow employee with a family problem, it probably is just as likely you should not sit in on similar situations unless you are invited. The senior leader has other duties. If she spends all her time overseeing one new supervisor, she ignores other areas of responsibility. It is not unreasonable to follow up by asking to see documentation of a process or to check progress of employees. This lets both the employee and their supervisor know you are paying attention to important aspects of their work and lives.

Correcting. Do this as close as possible to the performance of the activity. Often in performance oriented training we ofter students feedback in the form of an after action review within a few minutes of completing the activity. There is no reason to not apply the same practice. If you are invited to observe a process improvement meeting, plan on five or ten minutes after the meeting to review the supervisor’s performance.

When you have completed all the steps, repeat them until the leader performs them nearly perfectly. As they improve, you allow them to tell you how they can improve their performance instead of providing feed back from you. As you do so, you prepare them for increasing levels of leadership and improve the organization.

Good leaders are also trainers. They set the standard by telling, They live the standard through demonstration. They allow others to try to practice and correct mistakes so success is achieved. These steps train and develop leaders follows the same model. Tell them what the expectations are, demonstrate the way you expect them to behave, allow them to perform, make corrections and repeat. Leaders who practice these steps increase their sphere of influence, allow others to see he uses power to make the organization better, has concern for the future of the group and its people and is willing to e what he knows. Observers recognize the spark and passion of the leader doing the training and the overall success of the organization. Take the first step today with your young leaders.

Photo Credit:  tanakawho from flickr.com creative commons license