Rely on What Your Learners Know

We are working on a series of courses as a part of a huge change management initiative. One of the courses I designed is now live with our staff going through it, while I am still working on a few more courses in the series.

And because one of them is live while I’m working on others, I had an interesting experience. I happen to pull in one of the participants of the live course into a SME meeting of one of the other courses in the series to help with a certain area, a case study.

We got to what we would be providing participants for the case study, and my reply was well… basically nothing. The bare minimum. They would have to do the research on the case study themselves; research and analysis would be their day-to-day job after the training.

But the SMEs were hesitant… understandably. How on earth were they going to do that?

Then the participant from the previously designed course spoke up. Paraphrasing: “It actually worked really well. I mean, these participants are people who are knowledgeable and already know how to research and where to find the information. If someone didn’t, it was a group effort, so they learned.”

I had not yet learned whether that method was working – I had heard no complaints in feedback, but nothing validating either. To say the least, it was nice to hear!

Don’t be scared to rely on what your learners know. If you don’t think that all your learners will be able to complete whatever knowledge task you set forth, have them work with others. Make it a group effort. Add a little guidance if you feel like it’s needed. But don’t feel like you need to hold their hand in every training.

How have you designed your learning this way? What did you do when you received push back?