It seems that, after several apparent false-starts, a great number of us are returning to predominantly face-to-face learning events. This is both welcome and long-anticipated- even those most committed to virtual learning are recognising that there’s something about having learning groups all together in one room that just isn’t being replicated when we’re working from screens. I thought that it would be interesting to summarise some of the ‘new normal’ changes we’re seeing and hearing from our customers as they return to face to face. It’s clear that there are differences in how the L+D community is now working, differences that have implications for those who are committed to working experientially.
The long months of restrictions seem to have left a backlog of learning that organisations are now seeking to clear, accelerating populations through learning modules that are recognised as important to individual and corporate development. Simple maths will make it clear that this can only be achieved through a limited number of approaches -
I think we can discount the first of these as being unreasonable - L+D practitioners have felt the burden of trying to keep the learning show on the road through the pandemic more than many corporate groups. So we’re left with two options - shorten our learning modules or increase our cohort group sizes. Each has the potential to cause headaches for the experiential learning facilitator and we’re beginning to hear from customers who need support in making programming easier.
I’ve written in past blogs of the dangers of reducing the duration of experiential learning modules, how adopting this hands-on approach needs a commitment to allowing learners the time to go through complete cycles of learning. As you’d imagine I’m professionally sceptical about the value to the learner of reducing time spent engaged in experiential learning activity - it may be more convenient from an administrative perspective, but learning will suffer. One of the first questions I’d use to interrogate a learning design is
“What’s here for the benefit of those delivering the learning, as opposed to benefitting the learner?”
I’d encourage you to ask yourself the same question when putting together any learning module.
But if you’re confident that a shortening of duration won’t damage the learning there are still ways to work experientially. Some experiential learning tools are remarkably efficient against an equation of duration vs learning derived. Challenging Assumptions is a great example here, in 30 minutes total time it’s entirely possible to cover a range of learning outcomes about learning-focused behaviour, what supports learning and what gets in its way. Other examples like Seeing the Point or Counter Intelligence can be deployed equally quickly but against different learning outcomes. Image based activities such as Dialoogle or Images of Organisations are alternatives that can widen the objective-related conversations in the group quickly and easily.
One last thing to say, and again I’m repeating messages from past blogs, is that it’s always worth bearing in mind a key criteria when designing your face to face opportunities.
“Am I designing in a way that maximises the value of bringing people together?”
“Is there anything here that could be done remotely without losing learning impact?”
The second option I suggested above is the one we’re hearing most enquiries about right now - increasing group sizes but maintaining a strong experiential component. Again this is entirely possible if you’re structured in your approach.
As always the first consideration is your desired learning outcomes - what learning do you want your participants to derive from the experiential activity you choose? The RSVP Design web-shop offers a lot of support here, allowing you to search against the more common areas of learning such as Team-building or Communications Skill Development. There will always be a fair degree of overlap here as we set out to design learning tools that will adapt to specific learning needs (you may know that the V in RSVP stands for Versatile). Here are a couple of tools from our portfolio that might be appropriate for larger groups:
Top Priority - Testing and developing leadership and prioritisation in a matrix working environment with up to 40 people.
Super Simbols - Exploring and rehearsing a wide range of team and organisational working skills with up to 125 people.
Both of the above activities have been designed with large groups in mind, but don’t discount the potential of setting up a quasi- or overtly competitive learning environment by using smaller group tools in parallel:
Reversal can be very effective in this type of design, especially when several groups are seeking to gain access to the same data simultaneously.
As always, RSVP Design are here to help you choose - if you need some more suggestions just send an email to [email protected]