How to ditch the slideshow and create learning activities to engage your learners?
When training design starts with a focus on content delivery and preparing slides, it often becomes content-heavy and trainer-centric (as opposed to user-centric). Engaging your learners starts by focusing on the design of learning rather than content delivery. Use a clear design process, powerful learning objectives, and focus on the learners’ needs and you are well on your way to creating active learning.
By engaging learning, we don’t mean just fun and creativity. While those attributes are great, the most important thing is to focus on improving performance and impact.
”If we only listened with the same passion that we feel about being heard.”
– HARRIET LERNER, AUTHOR AND PSYCHOLOGIST
We have written before about user-centric learning design and a series of posts on using powerful learning objectives, so those ideas will link well with this topic. In this article, we’ll focus on activity design, trying to provide a clear methodology for it, and a free template to put it into action. Let’s go!
Learning Activity Design in Context
Before you design learning activities, you need to:
- Understand the learners and their needs. Who are they and what is their position? What do they already know? What do they need to be able to do better or differently, as a result?
- Design a powerful Learning Journey. An activity is always a part of the bigger picture. An effective activity in one context may prove useless in another context.
- Link the activity to desired Learning Objectives. Your activity design is the direct result of the desired objective. Let’s take a look at how to do this step by step.
Learning Activity Design
Activity design goes hand in hand with learning objectives. You define the desired learning objective, then design the activity that will help to achieve the objective, and finally, plan how to measure and show the proof of learning impact.
One helpful framework for defining your learning objectives is Bloom’s Taxonomy, which we have written about in more detail here. Good learning objectives are defined by using active verbs that describe how the learners’ performance will change.
As an example, if the objective is to “Understand the Grow Coaching method”, it doesn’t say anything about how the participants will change their leadership practice as a result of the activity. A better example of the same learning objective would be to state eg. “The participants will be able to recall the Grow coaching process and use powerful questions in coaching situations.”
For the activity itself, the possibilities are endless. You can design great activities for learning online or live workshops face to face. Your eLearning courses can have quizzes, videos, discussions, assignments, and other interactive elements.
Let’s continue with the previous example. Your learning objective is that the participants will be able to recall Grow coaching process and use powerful questions. In order to achieve the objective, the participants will obviously need to study the concept somehow. But in order to recall and use the concept, they will likely need to take an active role in the learning situation and be able to practice how it works. You could simulate coaching situations or try a game, eg our own Grow Coaching Cards have been designed for this use.
Again, there are endless possibilities so if you are out of ideas, ask your colleagues, explore what you can find online, or for participative learning experiences, use this list as a resource.
Proof of Learning
Finally, to check the Proof of Learning, ask yourself, “How will I know the learners have achieved the learning objectives? How is it evidenced?” There are numerous ways to evidence learning, and it is again dependable on the objective and the activity.
In our Grow Coaching example, proof of learning could be evidenced during a live workshop that they can utilise the process and the art of powerful questions.
Design Your Next Activity
To put your ideas to practice, we have created this template to Create Engaging Learning Activities.
Here’s how to use it. First, download the free template. You can print it out or use the fillable pdf online, on your own, or with your learning design team.
1 – Context
Scope out the context:
- Group size
- Time available
- Format (online, f2f, hybrid)
- Resources (time and budget)
2 – Learning Objectives
Write up your learning objectives: What do the participants need to be able to do better or differently after this learning experience?
3 – Learning Activities
This is the creative part – crafting out your learning activities: What activity formats and methods could help achieve the intended objectives? How could I design it into an engaging experience?
4 – Proofs of Learning
Ensure you hit the intended targets and impact by figuring out the proofs of learning: How will I know the learners have achieved the learning objectives? How is it evidenced?
5 – Next Actions
Finally, put your plan into action by creating a checklist of your next actions: What materials, content, or tools need to be prepared? List your next steps.
Get Started Now
That’s it! Hope you find these resources useful. You can read more case studies about the different kinds of learning journeys and activities we have created here.
If you need help in designing an engaging training, workshop, or online course, please don’t hesitate to get in touch via our contacts page or using the form below!