Thursday, June 4, 2009

... and now for something completely different!

A few posts back I included an embed of a YouTube vid: "The Court of King Caractacus".

There were a number of reasons for this pointless post:
1. My interest in it derives from G&S's
The Pirates of Penzance.
The Major-General's song:
"... and tell you every detail of Caractacus's uniform."
(More on which - if you're truly bored - to be found here.)
2. It's simply fun!

3. It illustrates a principle of effective training:
"Engage as many senses as possible!"
It is that last point to which THIS post is addressed!

Once upon a time I was an industrial statistician (as in, "a statistician working in industry"... not "a tough, resilient statistician"). Among my duties? Training engineers to do statistics relevant to their jobs.

I was also required to TAKE classes - continuing-education for industrial statisticians & others. One of the very few classes that had an impact on my behavior as a practicing industrial statistician? "Accelerated Learning": designing effective training classes. The basic idea? Make classes activity-based.

Tonight, in a completely different context, I had occasion - for the first time in a long while - to think about this again. Here are a few reflections on the topic:
A book was included with the class:
Creative Training Techniques Handbook.
- Note the title word: "training" - this is focused on 'training' NOT on 'education'. One of the things it took me way too long to realize as a trainer in industry was that there's a difference between 'education' and 'training'. 'Education' is aimed at 'understanding'; 'training' is aimed at 'changing behavior'.

Random thoughts (things I remember) from the class:
Provide crayons & scrap paper to all participants - encourage doodling
pedagogical value: doodling really can promote memory/learning
Provide a cartoonish 'course map' to further encourage doodling & using the crayons
pedagogical value: helps students figure out where we are, where we're going, and what the objective is... + doodling/coloring promotes memory/learning
Cheating is good.
When I re-designed my stat classes, I almost always started out with a 'final exam' - 10-20 questions to be answered in teams of 2-3
Students were told explicitly: "If you can't find the answer in the student workbook, ask another team for help!"
pedagogical value: ALL the stuff you need to know is in the student workbook... AND YOU CAN FIND IT! (... Oh, and, by the way: how do you do things at work? - if you don't know, you ask a colleague!)
(note: I typically had a LOT of activites designed to drive home this point: "Everything you need to know is in the book, AND YOU CAN FIND IT!")
If you want students to leave the class knowing how to DO something, build the class around 'em DOING those things!
(Recall: leaving the class knowing how to DO something is what distinguishes 'training' from 'education'!)
Some chord-striking quotations from the first few chapters of the book:
"Adults are babies with big bodies."
(Babies learn by playing - so do adults)

"Learning is directly proportional to the amount of fun you have."

"Learning has not taken place until behavior has changed."
(Recall - we're talking about 'training')
More chord-striking quotations:
"You cannot motivate other people."

"All people are motivated."

"People do things for their reasons, not your reasons."
Finally:
When designing 'activity-based' classes, it's important (critical) to remember that the activities aren't simply tacked on to the material, the activities ARE the material!
My experience re-designing stat classes to be 'experiential' and focused on DOING is that...
1. it takes a LOT MORE up-front work to design the class effectively

2. it takes a LOT LESS work to teach the class once it's designed (with all materials in place, activities designed, etc.)
Now you know.

1 comment:

  1. Great post. I'd like to take a look at that book.

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