Many in our field work with Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) who aren’t familiar with the body of knowledge associated with learning. Yet these same people are often responsible for providing us with course content and may be decision-makers when it comes to course design.
As our understanding of learning evolves, there are certain truisms we take for granted that a SME may not ever think about. Here is a list I created for a client to teach SMEs a few basics about instruction and learning as they design their lessons. I think these are seven golden rules that our industry can more or less agree on by now.
You can download the list using the links at the end of the article, should you want to print or email to someone.
Rule 1: People learn by doing. Provide opportunities to apply new knowledge and skills by practicing in as realistic a setting as possible. Activities that involve thoughtful responses, decision-making and solving problems encourage active learning and also promote higher order thinking.
Rule 2: Learning is social. Create ways for participants to learn from each other, to interact, discuss and exchange information. Encourage them to join relevant social networks to learn from a diverse group of practitioners. Promote the development of a personal learning environment that will keep participants connected and up-to-date. Relevant social interaction deepens learning.
Rule 3. People remember stories. To make learning stick, tell relevant stories, present case studies and show examples. Talk about your own mistakes and your own successes. Allow participants to respond to stories and case studies. Let them exchange stories with each other. See Why You Need to Use Storytelling in Learning.
Rule 4. Small bits of learning are most effective. Our brains have a limited capacity to perceive and process information. Breaking your content into small learning snacks, known as microlearning, will enhance comprehension and retention of knowledge and skills. For example, keep videos, lectures and tutorials brief.
Rule 5. Learning is strengthened within a strong and caring community. There is a significant emotional component to learning that is often ignored. Take the time to build a cohesive and safe community where participants will feel free to share, interact and work together. Manage the group to ensure that all participants are treated equally and with respect. Read about what makes a strong community manager.
Rule 6. Learners need intelligent feedback. Learners require feedback to reinforce that they are on the right path, to correct misunderstandings and to validate their unique perspectives. In the virtual classroom, respond to individual and group assignments and remain active in discussion forums, yet avoid giving participants the answers. When designing eLearning, provide context-sensitive feedback that presents information in a new way for remediation. See Alternatives to Correct and Incorrect.
Rule 7. Learning takes more than one intervention. People will not develop a new skill from one lecture or one reading. Learning is an ongoing process. Circle back to what was previously taught and provide lots of opportunities to practice new skills. Identify how you can create a blended approach to learning that incorporates various mediums and intermittent learning events.
Download This List
One list includes the resource links in this article and one list is without links.
- Download 7 Golden Rules of Learning (PDF Format)
- Download 7 Golden Rules of Learning with Resource Links (PDF format)
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