Hello virtual classroom aficionados and enthusiasts! Have you noticed a trend occurring with your learners? I have. Everyone is insanely, exhaustingly busy and they all have a lot on their minds. In times like these, I’m very thankful that Langevin follows the rule of “one third, two thirds” when it comes to course design. This model allows our mentally inundated clientele to absorb and retain the course content. Let me share some of the reasons you should be implementing this model as well.
Whether you design virtual training or traditional instructor-led training, ensuring your learners can retain the knowledge and skills is integral to the success of your course. Simply transcribing your course content onto PowerPoint slides, and lecturing while your participants listen passively, will not guarantee performance improvement. As we all know, no matter how visually compelling your PowerPoint presentations are, they won’t amount to much if they aren’t helping your learners store and retrieve the content back on the job (besides, there are a multitude of methods to choose from when presenting your content!). This is where the practice of allocating one third of your course for presentation and two thirds for application and feedback becomes key.
Application and feedback are the most crucial components of the learning process. Having your participants apply the knowledge and skill they’re acquiring in training ensures they are not only comprehending the course content but also increasing the chance of them applying it back on the job.
The best way to test the effectiveness of your course, and the amount of content being retained by your learners, is by administering a test every time they learn a new chunk of content (a.k.a. a subtask). For many of us, the word “test” harkens back to mentally groaning with angst at the back of a school classroom, so try varying the verbiage you use to introduce tests if you’re concerned about having this effect on your participants. Performance- and non-performance application can be done using a variety of methods such as practice exercises, role plays, case studies, games, and quizzes. By varying the methods you choose for application, you ensure not only retention, but also a good time all around! Once you’ve had your learners complete a test after every subtask (referred to as a review test), you should then administer a performance-based test (a test of both knowledge and skill) of the task as a whole (referred to as a criterion test) to verify your participants can successfully perform the task from start to finish.
Finally, when designing your course, you need to integrate ample opportunities for providing your learners with feedback. Traditionally, we’re inclined to think of feedback being given by a facilitator, however, feedback can be supplied by a facilitator, peer, the learner themselves, or using an answer key. If the task is considered high-risk, then feedback should be provided by the facilitator to minimize any chance of errors back on the job. However, if it is a low-risk task, using a combination of feedback methods can keep participants more engaged and accountable in the learning process. It also gives you the opportunity to design enjoyable, creative exercises where you can tap into your participants’ experiences (your adult learners will appreciate being able to share and be an active participant in the learning process). Building in feedback is essential to gauge whether your participants are understanding the content. It also allows you to find and correct anything that might need further explanation before your participants try performing the task back in the workplace. Your learners may not remember exactly what was said in your first lecturette, but they will remember completing a knowledge-based activity, reviewing and debriefing the activity, and receiving timely feedback.
With the one third presentation and two thirds application and feedback rule, your participants will get the maximum benefit from your training. A bonus benefit of this model is that you’re never working harder than your participants! As we love to say here at Langevin, “never do for the learners what they can do for themselves.”
Do you have a favourite creative presentation, application, or feedback method? Let us know what it is and why it works!