Creating Great Learning Experiences: Where to Start

About DSA

Darryl L. Sink and Associates, Inc. (DSA) helps organizations design and develop learning and performance solutions that get results. DSA works cooperatively with organizations to:

  • accomplish internal custom projects
  • train and educate their internal staff in Instructional Systems Development.

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Most of us can agree that many training and educational programs need more (sometimes much more) participant involvement and engagement. Why? Because we care about transfer of training to the workplace. Using engaging, involving and authentic activities can harness the motivation of the learners, provide appropriate PRACTICE with FEEDBACK, and make the training relevant and job related.

Where to start? Here are two strategies:

  1. Take a course that already exists and that has great content (relevant to the job and business). Select and create dynamic learning activities and practice focused on what the participants are to do with the content back on the job. If it is problem solving or troubleshooting, then consider authentic scenarios and case studies and hands-on troubleshooting with simulated problems. If the content is more for interpersonal skills, as in communicating with others they work with or manage, consider a series of role-plays to build fluency in the interpersonal aspects of the learning. For an example of using this strategy on a set of existing courses, take a look at our white paper here.
  2. For a new course or lesson, start with the business need (the problem or opportunity) the training program is to help resolve. Write the training goals and objectives to reflect the job related tasks participants will need to perform. Next, select and design creative learning activities (e.g., case studies, role plays, and simulations) that provide authentic practice matched to what the participants will need to do back on the job.

The key to both strategies above is to select and create activities directly related to the job performance.

In addition to designing activities related directly to job performance, look at activities for reinforcement and for gaining and maintaining the participant’s attention. For example, if you are wanting the participants to learn to seek and appreciate multiple perspectives from their team members and others in the organization, you might use an instructional game or other activity where participants are given different scenarios and are asked to put themselves in the shoes of someone else.

This combination of strategies that emphasize authentic activities related to the learner’s job as well as activities for reinforcement and maintaining attention makes for a dynamic great learning experience.

One last note has to do with our own professional development. If we want to be designers of great learning experiences, we need to be continually reviewing different types of activities for ideas we might use on current and future projects.

Good luck as you develop Great Learning Experiences.

See you next time,