Bring the Classroom to the Learner

“Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement.”

C. S. Lewis (29 November 1898 – 22 November 1963), novelist, poet, academic, medievalist, literary critic, essayist, lay theologian and Christian apologist.

Bring The Classroom To The Learner 2014-05-27

Image by Edwin Lee

Organizationally assessed, systematically designed, prototyped, mobile, measurable and dynamic. We’re told that the best learning experiences reflect some or all of these elements, but what’s a supervisor to do when you don’t have access to an instructional designer, you have little time for offsite training and less (possibly NO) budget for development?  You focus on providing one of the MOST EFFECTIVE forms of training by bringing the classroom to the learner.

Learning that takes place in the work environment; workplace learning is the new millennial nephew of “on the job training.”  By organizing simple workplace learning experiences, managers, supervisors, mentors and coaches are capable of highly effective learning at a fraction of the cost of more formal solutions.

Build These Components of Good Workplace Learning

  • Recognize the Teaching Moment

Good workplace learning starts with recognizing the “teaching moment.”   It’s that moment when you recognize the struggle, hear the frustration, or uncover the significant error.  Our first instinct is often to correct the problem and move on. Fight that urge. This is the perfect moment for workplace learning.  Use such an opportunity to define the short and long term benefits of learning this skill/ task needed for the user to overcome the challenge.

  • Provide Just Enough Information to Be Dangerous

Communicating the problem clearly includes describing how it affects other staff both upstream and downstream of the task.  Project-Interfaces are an area most often ignored in correction discussions. Be ready to involve some additional resources (people and/or references) that will sustain work progress while ensuring that the new solution is headed in the right direction.

  • Present a Safe Environment for Failure

Create a safer place for the learner to fail.  Didn’t we watchfully support our kids through their countless stumbles and falls until they eventually learned to walk on their own? We learn so much more from our failures than from our successes.  Whenever deadlines allow, make time for a practice product or deliverable, even a revision.  This tells the learner that you want them to try something they are uncomfortable with, without the client pressure.

  • Offer Detailed Feedback

This is another step that is frequently overlooked.  When the learners present their solution, take the time to highlight what they did well AND provide feedback on what they can do better.  Put your suggestions in a specific AND a big picture context.  Learners often lack big picture knowledge of how their solutions relate to their department’s performance, the corporation’s market leadership, government regulations, or even the industry standards.

  • Explore the “Do Over”

Finally, ask the learner, if they had a “do over” what would they do differently.  This discussion provides a chance for the learner to reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of their solution.

These five practical workplace learning considerations will work whether you are trying to share conceptual knowledge, transfer practical skills, or improve an individual’s abilities. You don’t have to be a Learning and Development guru to create that really effective learning environment for the people you work with every day.

So, focus on task-based, supportive feedback throughout the workplace learning process, and recognize both the good elements as well as weaknesses of the learner’s approach to solving the problem. You will create a learning experience that can continue long after the learning moment!

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DeAnna Myers

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