Nobody sets out to create a poor learning experience. But creating a good one is not an easy task. To help train your team, General Assembly has developed a step-by-step process that guides creators through the planning of high-impact learning experiences. Whether creating an online or offline program, these principles are at the heart of great training.
Let’s pretend that we want to create a lesson to teach a group of people how to make an omelette. Let’s walk through the steps that we might take to create that lesson.
Get to Know Your Audience
The first step to devising a learning experience for a group of people is to get to know them as well as possible. If you’re trying to create a lesson that’s contextualized and relevant, you need to know some basic facts about your audience. Certain facts, of course, are going to be more relevant than others and your job as a trainer or leader is to uncover them.
For our hypothetical omelette lesson, the first thing you need to know is whether or not your students have cooked before. Are they absolute beginners? Skilled amateurs? Professional chefs looking for advanced techniques? Their skill level will determine your lesson plan. If your students have never cooked before, you might have to start with something as rudimentary as how to crack an egg; starting a lesson like that for an audience of skilled cooks would be almost insulting.
So how do you gather this basic information about your audience? For Omelette-Making 101, we might ask the students some questions when they sign up for the class to help assess their skill level. When designing a program for a broader audience, or one that you don’t have immediate access to, surveys, polls, focus groups and interviews can all be used to gather data about what would make for the most relevant educational experience.
Define The Problem
In order to design a program that’s Problem-Based and allows students to Learn-By-Doing, it’s important to define exactly what problems you’re going to solve for your students. Let’s say that during the previous step, we determined that those most interested in our omelette program are cooking novices. Here are just a few of the problems that beginners might encounter:
- Unfamiliar with basic cooking techniques
- Inexperienced using cooking equipment
- Unaware of what a proper omelette looks/tastes like
Your job as an L&D professional is to anticipate these and any other problems that might come up over the course of the lesson.
Break Out the Problems
Once you have a solid list of problems that you anticipate your students might want to solve, you need to break the problems up into one of three categories:
Knowledge: What does your audience know or not know? This is the most basic question of any learning experience. If your students don’t know what a proper omelette looks like, that’s a lack of knowledge.
Skill: Skills are the “how” of enabling proficiency. They need to be practiced, rewarded, and reinforced in order to be learned. Your beginner cooks might not be able to crack an egg without getting shell pieces in the pan that problem is skill-based.
Mindset: This refers to the attitude and approach an individual takes to their work. It ties back to what they do or don’t value. Mindset is susceptible to influence from others, which is why the social aspect of education can be so important. A mindset problem would be a student showing up to your class questioning the value of learning to cook an omelette in the first place when it’s much easier to order one from a diner.
Define Desired Outcome
For any great learning experience, you need to begin with the end in mind. What will your students know or be able to do by the time the program finishes?
In our hypothetical case, we want the audience to know how to make an omelette. Pure and simple, this is the desired outcome. That statement can be further broken down into individual objectives that correspond to some of the problems that you determined your students might encounter.
Examples of Objectives:
- Learn recipes for two different types of omelettes (Knowledge)
- Practice the omelette-making technique and process (Skill)
- Explore the health and cost-savings benefits of learning to cook your own breakfast (Mindset)
Because we know that “learning by doing” results in the best outcomes, we want to make sure that our outcomes begin with an action verb, are measurable, and concrete. The three above objectives tick off all those boxes.
Incorporate into Program Design
After your planning process is complete, if you’ve done it correctly, you should know who your audience is, the problems they’re trying to solve and the outcome that you need to achieve. Leveraging this information in program design is critical for delivering an end product that ultimately makes a measurable impact on your learners’ knowledge, skills, and mindset.
Creating the perfect omelette and creating stronger leaders aren’t actually so different if you understand the process of how people learn and how to generate results.
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