In the midst of a project where I’m conducting quality control on both online and ILT courseware I came across this video:
Put aside the use of religion as a foundation in the video, the point is the only way information becomes useful and or conducive to action (add to that skills and behaviors and we have the troika of what any course or instructor needs to impart) is to repeat the elements until they become internalized and habituated.
Truth be told, that’s my quote in the headline – a phrase I picked up somewhere down the line and always held to be accurate. And the reason – not to wiggle out of my cliché – is that too often even great instructors after taking learners through material can be satisfied they met their requirements. Yes, but… ILT is not repeatable – so unlike an online learning course – how can an employee (for example) revisit content or a methodology to clarify, refresh, relearn since left with only their legacy materials they have no first hand source from which to seek help?
Over the thousands of hours of instruction I have delivered, no matter how exciting or meaningful the material, or how competent if not (perhaps, a-hem) charismatic I might have been, once I was gone, learners were on their own. Even good references and notes made and organized, or I had provided, became relics of the event. It was an event, like a live concert or play: You’re left with the touching moments, humming a tune or mulling over dialogue but it’s ephemeral. Nevertheless, in learning, the end user must apply what has been transmitted, evidenced in increased knowledge or skills, improved decision-making and modified behaviors.
For a useful result, learning elements or any messaging for that matter has to be repeated from six to twenty times for it to be memorable and further useful. In advertising, this is called effective frequency. (Check out Hermann Ebbinghaus, Thomas Smith, or Herbert Krugman). While numbers and terms differ there is complete agreement repetition is crucial to any sort of outcome from selling to learning. But if the event, as ILT is a fleeting event, even with legacy materials, how can this be achieved? (Thus, by the way are the drivers and attractiveness of online courseware).
Well, good news. There is an answer though its success is dependent on a structure that meets new criteria and commitment plus a new definition of what Instructor Led Training should and could become.
Let’s call this Instructor Led Interactive Learning (ILIL or Live Action Learning)
Consider these elements as the foundation of the methodology:
- Quality content is meaningful to learners who will need to put it in action. Grounding concepts in theory applied in actual settings becomes more useful to learners who will be responsible for these learning elements in practical application
- Frequent examples, practical simulations, testing and feedback during the instructor led experience
- Units of content deliver in in micro forms so each concept can be explored in theory and then compelling learners to demonstrate their understanding through new simulations in guided and independent practice
- Building from each former element as a connection to the next
- Working with peers individually and in teams to discover problems and misconceptions found in real settings
- Acquiring real world answers to practical issues faced in these actual settings
- Demanding learners participate in scenarios replicating the actual working environment and insist these are delivered before the entire cohort
- Allowing and encouraging feedback
- Following through with learning on site, in the real environment – with reference back to exemplars of preferred information, skills and behaviors
- Opportunities for corrective action on site to bring the learner up the highest acceptable standards
All the elements of repetition are here, but in different learning styles and modalities. Moreover, that’s terrific – each learner will be reached in his or her best learning style.
Of course, this means training or learning does not stop after the instructor packs up; rather it is on a continuum requiring coaching ‘in the field’. This does mean cooperation with others newly recruited into the process and that’s all good. The more commitment from management to continue guidance on site means learning continues and essentially never ends.
Ultimately, the nature of ILT, now Instructor Led Interactive Learning (ILIL or Live Action Learning) is an ongoing experience assuredly driving up the quality of performance of learners—now users—as they navigate through their job tasks. I believe this method busts up the …’shelf life of milk’ sobriquet rather nicely. No longer teach, tell, check, test, and correct, this learning continuum will yield much better results, satisfied learners, better workers and improved overall performance for the organization.
As always, I welcome your comments.