Category Archives: instructional delivery

4MAT Hemispheric Mode Indicator: What if I only had a (left) brain?

The 4MAT Hemispheric Mode Indicator measures our preference for right-mode of left-mode thinking. With an awareness of your natural preference for one mode of thinking over another, trainers, instructional designers and learners can more readily recognize how to stretch into their under-utilized learning mode. Most of the participants in our 4MAT instructional design courses and train the trainer courses share with us that the right-mode learning strategies are most likely to be missed.

We know now that the right brain plays an essential role in learning.  As recently as the early 1980’s, neuroscientists believed the right side of the brain was mostly unnecessary. Nobel Prize winner, Dr. Roger Sperry, shared in his 1981 Nobel lecture, the right hemisphere was “not only mute and agraphic but also dyslexic, word-deaf and apraxic, and lacking generally in higher cognitive function.” Sperry made it sound like our right brains might be non-essential.

What if you only had a left brain? If we look at patients who have suffered damage to the right brain, we will find a list of symptoms and inabilities that give insight into what would happen if you found yourself missing the right part of your brain. Here’s what that might look like:

  • You wouldn’t understand a joke.
  • You would have no idea what Forrest Gump meant when he shared the metaphor “life is like a box of chocolates.”
  • You would not be able to make sense of a map or any other visual tool.
  • A 2-year could draw a more realistic house, cat or dog than you.
  • You would have no concept of what Bob Dylan meant when he sang about “a rolling stone”:

              How does it feel

                           To be without a home

                           Like a complete unknown

                          Like a rolling stone?

All of the problems associated with right brain damage are related to the ability to relate one thing to another. The right brain enables us to make connections and synthesize which are essential acts in learning and innovation.

Without well-crafted right-mode learning strategies, learners have difficulty integrating learning into their lives. The 4MAT instructional model intentionally creates balance by moving the learner through a complete learning cycle while integrating both right and left-mode strategies.  We have to constantly ask ourselves, “How balanced are the learning experiences I am creating?”

What do you think gets in the way of effective use of right-mode instructional strategies?

Balancing Right and Left Brain Activity Choice in Your 4MAT Design

I recently facilitated our 4MAT Advanced Instructional Design Course with the Aveda Global Education Team.  In this experience the group discovered their 4MAT learning style results and then overlaid this with their 4MAT Hemispheric Mode Indicator results. As we explored how their natural learning preferences influenced design and delivery approach, the group began to explore creative ways to increase retention of information by engaging the right brain. The learners were assigned to groups to reprocess the brain research shared on the impact on learning of right- and left-mode strategies. One particularly creative group came up with an interesting exercise to explore the differences between right- and left-mode processing.

Here’s the directions for the activity they designed:

  1. Draw two charts each titled with “How does this make you feel?” On one chart, draw a series of interconnecting squares. On the other chart, draw a collection of interconnecting spirals.
  2. Divide participants into two groups and assign each group a chart. Ask each group to answer the question, “How does this make you feel?”  Invite each team to write their answers on the chart.
  3. Have the two groups switch charts. Repeat the process.
  4. Debrief the exercise by sharing the insights written on each chart.

4MAT Learning Styles4MAT Instructional Design
One of the things I found interesting about this exercise is how the learners described the differences in how the two images made them feel. Some of the words used to describe the differences included:

  Boxes: Linear Image   Swirls: Abstract image
  • “Retrotastic”
  • Organized
  • Secure
  • Motivated
  • Structured
  • Deliberate
  • Softness
  • Free
  • Relaxed
  • Warm
  • Comforted
  • Inspire

 

As we stood in front of the two images, the entire group began to ponder how balanced their individual approach is to utilizing right- and left-mode strategies.  The consensus was that a balance of both right- and left creates the greatest learning impact and that the group collectively tends to lean heavily on left-mode processing.

When the group facilitating the exercise asked the question, “What do we miss when we underutilize right-brain learning strategies?,” the answers shared brilliantly summed up the power of right brain strategies:

  • The impact of seeing the bigger picture.
  • The ability to visualize how it all fits together.
  • The potential power of the mental image created when we use stories, metaphors and visual tools.
  • The impact of feeling.
  • Full engagement.

4MAT Train the Trainer: Simulation in Live Courses or The Great Marshmallow Experiment

We learn from experience. When faced with something new, we ask ourselves “How does this connect with what I already know?” The 4MAT model of instruction, which we share in our instructional design courses and train-the-trainer courses, guides learners through a complete learning cycle which begins with the learner’s experience.

Simulations are a powerful way to generate a shared experience. There’s a lot of talk about simulations in e-learning environments. In our 4MAT e-learning instructional design courses, we play around with all the different ways we can simulate the personal interaction and reflection that is often missing in e-learning environments.  But, what about simulations in live learning environments? We tend to think that learning simulations require a great deal of time, but that’s not always the case.

Last week, I headed over to the Southwest Learning Summit hosted by ASTD Dallas to lead a train-the-trainer workshop on how to connect performance-based outcomes to activity choice. The rest of the time I had the pleasure of participating in the sessions. Diana Monk of Time Warner Cable, opened her 75-minute session with a fun, impactful simulation that took less than 20 minutes.  Yes, this was 20 minutes of a 75 minute presentation-sounds like a lot. However, I can tell you it was the most engaging and memorable part of the entire day. (And, our team took home the $10 Target gift card prize-gotta love that).

The winning marshmallow structure

Here’s how she did it:

Time needed: 20 minutes

What you will need:

Paper bags (1 per group of 5 attendees)

10 sticks of dried spaghetti (in bag)

12″ length of string (in bag)

1 Marshmallow (in bag)

2″ strip of masking tape

Scissors

Method:

1-Teams of 5 are formed.

2-Each team is instructed to build a structure that will support the marshmallow without piercing, cutting or otherwise mutilating it. The goal is for the marshmallow to be positioned at the highest point possible from the base.  The structure must be stand-alone. It cannot lean on or be supported by anything else, including the people creating it.

3-Teams are given 12 minutes from “Go” to grab their bag of materials and create their structure.

4-Midway through the 12 minutes, the facilitator “remembers” that she forgot to tell us the following: “I forgot to tell you that the winning team members will each receive a Target gift card.”

5-At the 12-minute mark, everyone must remove their hands from their structure. The winning team is determined by the height of the marshmallow from the base.

What could you do with a simulated experience like this? Where might you take the debrief? How could you connect this to content you will be sharing.

 

 

 

 

Improv Activities to Use in 4MAT Instructional Design (and Delivery)

4MAT Improv ActivitiesThe 4MAT instructional design model guides the learner through an experiential learning process which begins with concrete experience. In our 4MAT train the trainer and instructional design courses, we find it is easy for trainers to get stuck in a rut of over-using reflective training openings that sound like, “Reflect on a time when…”

At ASTD ICE 2011  in Orlando, I experienced a session being led by the Second City improv troupe focused on how to use improvisational techniques in training design and delivery. Improv is a great way to create shared concrete experience through simulations. Here are some examples shared:

Improv #1: Celebrating Contribution

A learner, “Bob”, is invited to come to the front of the room. The facilitator introduces Bob and sets up the improv by sharing that he will be asking Bob a series of questions. The facilitator explains that the audience’s job is to demonstrate loud, enthusiastic applause to anything and everything that Bob shares. The interaction sounds like:

Facilitator: What is your name?

Bob:  Bob

Audience: Wild applause

Facilitator: Why did you choose this session?

Bob: It was closest to the Starbucks.

Audience: Wilder applause

Facilitator: What do you hope to learn from this conference?

Bob: How to make my boss think I am a training rock star.

Audience:  Applause reaches decibel level equivalent to a rock concert and someone pulls out a lighter

Imagine you demonstrated this in the front of the room with “Bob” and then invited table groups to mirror the same process. How might you connect a simulation like this to training content? In a workshop with content focused on thinking diversity in project planning, innovation or meetings, debrief of this experience might include questions such as:

“How did it feel to have this kind of response to every thought you contributed?”

“Are you typically wildly enthusiastic about every thought shared by your colleagues? Are there people in your life that you tend to “celebrate” by eagerly waiting for their every thought?  Are there people who invite the opposite response? Why?”

“What are some typical, less-than-enthusiastic thoughts that occur in the minds of meeting participants  (or your mind) in response to comments made by others? What would it take to create a more receptive climate?”

Improv #2: Listening with the Intent to Understand

Round 1: Partner One is tasked with talking about any topic. Partner Two is tasked with listening and periodically interrupting by sharing some reference to themselves and then apologizing for interrupting. This might sound like:

Partner One:  I am really busy remodeling my house which is….

Partner Two: Oh, I have remodeled a Victorian house. What a project!  I’m sorry, please continue…

Partner One: That’s ok. I just went to the paint store to choose the colors for our front porch…

Partner Two: Really-I have a front porch on our lake cabin. I go fishing there almost every weekend. I’m sorry, please continue…

This continues for 3 minutes or so and then the partners switch roles. The facilitator invites reactions to the exercise with questions like:

“Was it difficult to be the interrupter? How did it feel?”

“What was your reaction to being interrupted?”

“What was going on in your head when you were tasked with being the “Interrupter”?”

Round 2: Partner One is tasked with sharing a statement. Partner Two must begin a reply statement by using the last word of the statement previously shared by Partner One. This might sound like:

Partner One: I am remodeling my home.

Partner Two: Home is truly where the heart is.

Partner One: Is this your first conference?

Partner Two:  “Conference” is not the word I would use to adequately describe this event.

The facilitator debriefs the exercise by asking questions such as:

“How did you feel during this exercise?”

“Where was your attention when you were listening to your partner?”

“Was your listening more active when you were “interrupting” or linking to the last word shared by your partner? Why?”

“Compare this experience to the previous exercise. Discuss with your partner the differences in the two approaches to listening. (Reflection time) What did you notice?”

Imagine this improv activity being used to simulate the distinction between listening with attention on “self” and listening with attention on “other”.  After the improv, learners could be moved  into  personal reflection with an invitation to “Reflect on an experience when you felt truly “heard”. What created that feeling? Share the experience with a partner.”

Have you used improv in training? What ideas are sparked by this approach?

PS-When is showed the image to wandering folks in our office, only half guessed that the image represents “Think on your feet=improv”.

Train-the-Trainer Tips: 7 Ways to Organize Lecture

In the 4MAT model, lecture happens in the step called “Inform”. In our 4MAT Train-the-Trainer sessions, we invite trainers and instructional designers to evaluate what it takes to deliver lecture well. “Well-organized” consistently shows up as the key criteria we all tend to use to evaluate lectures. Learners often describe painful lectures as “wandering”, “disorganized” and “all over the place”. There are many ways you can organize lecture. In this post, we will explore 7 Ways to Organize Lecture. Before we explore how to organize, let’s reflect on “How much is too much (lecture)?” and “How long is too long?”

How long is too long?

We explored the issue of “How Long is Too Long” when it comes to lecture in a previous post. According to brain expert, Dr. John Medina, we tend to drift off in lecture after the first quarter hour:

“Peer-reviewed studies confirm my informal inquiry: Before the first quarter-hour is over in a typical presentation, people usually have checked out. If keeping someone’s interest in a lecture were a business, it would have an 80 percent failure rate.”

What trainers and instructional designers need to know about the limits of human attention :

-We tend to pay attention according to some “stubborn timing pattern”. In my experience, this pattern runs in 10-15 minute increments. Without some shift in delivery approach, learners tend to drift off.  Next to “organized”, the second most cited criteria by learners for evaluating lecture is “entertaining”. There are many ways to shift the delivery approach and increase the entertainment factor: stories, images, interactive processing, visual organizers, visual data presentation, and props all work to entertain and engage.

How much is too much?

 -Our working memory can only hold so much information. A good rule of thumb is 5 bits of information, plus or minus 2. When structuring your lecture, challenge yourself to identify the main topics and limit the total to 7 maximum. 5 is even better. Create an experience to reflect and process each of the main topics within your lecture.

Organizing Your Lecture

Once you focus the content, you can then think about how you will organize the delivery of the content. The most obvious way to organize delivery of content is by topics. For example, if you were teaching a product knowledge course, an obvious way to organize lecture would be by product categories.  There are many other ways that you can structure the organization of the information. Think about how the learner will use the information to help you determine the best way to structure the delivery of the content.

Here are 7 ways to organize lecture including examples of how this might look in a product knowledge course on  haircare products.

1. Topics-organize the training content by categories or subject

Example: The lecture is structured into “shampoos”, “conditioners” and “styling aids”.

2. Problem and Solution-organize the training content around common problems  learners face and how the content being explored provides a solution

Example:  The lecture is structured around the “5 most common complaints” customers have about their hair such as “My hair is flat.” or “My curl is frizzy.”

3. Cause and Effect-organize the training content around how specific actions create different results

Example: The lecture is organized around the causes of common hair issues and how the products work to address these issues. One cause might be “humidity” with illustrations of how some products attract humidity to produce more curl and others decrease humidity to maintain straightness of hair.

4. Pros and Cons-organize the training content by comparing and contrasting the advantages and disadvantages of one thing over another

Example: Products can be compared and contrasted to competitive products with highlights on what makes “our” product better.

5. Acronym-create acronyms to help the learner understand the structure of the content delivery and to improve retention of the information

Example: The acronymn “ESP” might be used to organize the lecture.

E-Engage the client by asking the right questions.

S-Share the right product solution, linking the product to the client’s needs based on the client’s answers.

P-Provide the client with product usage information and tips.

6. Timelines-organize the training content in past-present-future orientation.

Example: Products can be explored based on when they were introduced.

7. Visual-organize the content using a visual organizing structure such as icons or color coding.

Example:  Visual icons are introduced at the beginning of the lecture which represent the different needs of different haircare clients. The icons are used as a coding system to identify the type of clients which would find each product appealing.

What other organizing structures would you add to the list?

25 Coaching Questions for Trainers Using the 4MAT Model

coaching questionsIn our 4MAT instructional design courses and train the trainer courses, we often hear trainers share how difficult it can be to focus and sustain learner attention. Let’s explore how you can use 25 Coaching questions to focus the attention of the learner during the 4MAT Practice step. First, let’s explore why questions are important in the coaching process.

The neurons in your brain communicate with each other through electrochemical signals. These signals are triggered by incoming sensory information. What you notice and pay attention to over time shapes the neuronal connections in your brain.  In the article, A Brain-Based Approach to Coaching, Jeffrey Schwartz, M.D., shares:

“The questions you ask of your brain significantly affect the quality of the connections it makes, and profoundly alters the patterns and timings of the connections the brain generates in a fraction of a second. Now, substitute the concept of ‘attention’ for the phrase “the question you ask,” and you get the statement “Where you focus your attention, you make connections.”1

If you want to create sustained behavioral change, you must generate focused attention on the behaviors that must be executed consistently to generate the desired training result. In the 4MAT model of instruction, the third part of the learning cycle is “Practice”. In this step, the learner applies the content and the trainer moves into the role of “Coach”.

The questions the trainer asks in this step should be aimed at focusing the learner’s attention on the quality of the practice application of the content being learned in the course.  To help you increase your inventory of coaching questions, here is a list of 25 Coaching Questions you can use to focus the learner’s attention during practice training activities:

25 Coaching Questions for Trainers Using the 4MAT Model

1. What worked?
2. What could have worked better?
3. What do you notice about your application?
4. If you were your own coach, what coaching would you give yourself on this?
5. How could you turn this around?
6. What are three things you would improve?
7. What would you do again?
8. What would you not do again?
9. If you were a customer, how would you evaluate your approach? Your results?
10. What are three actions you might take to apply this with different results next time?
11. On a scale of 1-10, where is your application?
12. What would it take to move from a 5 to a 9?
13. Where are you comfortable? least comfortable?  Why?
14. What can you learn from this?
15. How else might you approach this?
16. What do you notice?
17. What could you pay more attention to?
18. What themes do you see showing up in the work of the group?
19. What differences do you notice in your application and others?
20. What one behavior (or thought) if executed consistently would make the biggest difference in your application?
21. What insights have you gained through this practice?
22. What do you think you should do first? next?
23. What would you do if it was entirely up to you?
24. If you saw someone else in this situation, what would you suggest that they do?
25. If you weren’t holding anything back, how might this look differently?

What other questions would  you add to the list?

1David Rock and Jeffrey M, Schwartz, M.D. Journal of Coaching in Organizations,  2006, 4(2), pp 32-43.

4MAT Train the Trainer: How to Reach Every Learning Style

In our 4MAT Train the Trainer workshops, the question is often raised of whether we should simply match the training style of the trainer to the learning style of the learners in every class. Imagine training breakout sessions formed with an invitation that sounds like, “If you are a Type Three learner, please report to Doug’s session which will focus on how you will actually apply this information with minimal dialogue and interaction. If you are a Type One learner, go to Susan’s session where we will explore personal stories related to the content and spend a good portion of our time in partner exercises. ”  While this seems like an efficient solution that would allow both trainers and learners to operate from their learning style preferences, there are two reasons that this does not work:

1-Every learner, regardless of learning style, moves through a four-step cycle when learning new information. To learn something, we must move through the complete learning cycle that engages us at a personal level, shares the necessary information, allows for practice and equips us to assess and adapt the information in the real world.

2-Our research confirms that organizations, as a whole, represent a composite of learning styles. In other words, when you look at the whole of an organization, you will find a balanced mix of  learning style preferences and hemispheric mode preferences (right- and left-brain) . Equally, if not more importantly, you will also find a balanced distribution of least preferred learning style preferences.

These two factors are critical to consider when designing learning experiences. To effectively reach every learning style, we must design with intention.

In any well-designed training program, there should be a finite number of learning outcomes with supporting learning content that delivers on each outcome.  To reach every learning style, the outcomes must be directly linked to activity choice. The activities should be chosen to allow the learners to process the necessary learning topics in multiple ways that appeal to different learning styles.  

If you were delivering a course to leaders and managers on how to effectively address performance issues, how might you vary the activities so that they appeal to all learning styles while also reinforcing the desired learning outcome? Below are some examples of training activities that appeal to all learning styles that collectively address the desired outcome of equipping managers to lead performance conversations. The number indicates the 4MAT learning style that would most prefer this type of activity.

Personal Reflections-Participants are asked to individually reflect on a recent performance issue they have dealt  with then share their stories with a partner(1)

Group Exercise-Participants collectively define what works and doesn’t work in performance conversations, based on their previous experiences (1)

Advance Organizers-A visual organizer of the content to be covered is sent out, prior to the session, which illustrates how the content and topics to be covered fit together (2)

Video of Effective and Ineffective Performance conversations-Participants view demonstrations of real-world conversations (2)

Scripting Your Conversation-Participants take a real-world conversation they need to have and develop a script, using the model shared by the trainer (3)

Practice Conversations-Participants apply the model shared by the trainer to lead a converstion using real-world scenarios (3)

Self-Assessment of Practice- Participants assess the effectiveness of their role-play using criteria provided and adapt, as needed.

Follow-Up Plan-Participants develop a 30-day plan for application (4)

Notice how each activity reinforces the desired outcome. The key to reaching every learning style lies in intentionally choosing activities and placing them in the right sequence to move learners through the complete learning cycle.

If you haven’t experienced 4MAT, you may enjoy one of our free train the trainer web classes which explain the 4MAT 8 Steps of Design.

4MAT Train-the-Trainer: 6 Ideas for Improving Lecture

In our 4MAT Train the Trainer live and web classes, we facilitate an exercise where each of the four learning style groups gives examples of painful learning situations particular to their style. As many of you already know, the 4MAT Type One Learners appreciate relevance and meaning in a learning situation. Type One’s will tell you that it is painful when there is absolutely no dialogue or any sense of personal connection to the content or the group.. Guess what all four styles find painful: boring lecture.

I think we all know this, which explains why two of the most frequent questions we hear regarding lecture are:

-How do you make lecture interesting?

-How long is too long?

On his blog (which we love) Dr.John Medina shared the following:

“Peer-reviewed studies confirm my informal inquiry: Before the first quarter-hour is over in a typical presentation, people usually have checked out. If keeping someone’s interest in a lecture were a business, it would have an 80 percent failure rate. What happens at the 10-minute mark to cause such trouble? Nobody knows. The brain seems to be making choices according to some stubborn timing pattern, undoubtedly influenced by both culture and gene. This fact suggests a teaching and business imperative: Find a way to arouse and then hold somebody’s attention for a specific period of time.”

Personally, I think a 20-25 minute lecture is ideal. If we subscribe to the idea that at each 10 minute marker, we need to shake things up frequently. Here are some “shake and bake” strategies:

Images-Images trump words every time. What image activity might you use to compel, intrigue and provoke the learner? Visual Explorer tools are excellent for this. What about a video clip or metaphor? There are plenty of free video sources out there.

Chunk-“Well-organized” is the key criteria in evaluating lectures. Learners describe painful lectures as “wandering”, “disorganized” and “all over the place”. Chunk the information into the big ideas. Introduce the big ideas and the organization of the lecture at the beginning. If you are using powerpoint, set up the structure for the lecture visually in the first few slides. (More on this in a future post-stay tuned).

Weave –a good lecture weaves together all the topics around a central concept. Make sure everything you deliver is shared in connection with everything else. Think of each piece of information as a thread and the overall lecture as a tapestry.

Stories-We learn in the context of human experience. Stories are containers for information. A well-crafted story packages up the information for the learner to store effectively.

Interactives-Active processing during the lecture can extend the time limit of attention. Think about incorporating “teach-backs” or partner shares throughout the lecture.

Powerpoints-. Powerpoints are not tele-prompters. Minimize the text-one phrase or sentence that captures the essence of the message is enough. Make sure the image aligns and reinforces what you are saying.

4MAT Facilitation: Handling Learner Questions

We have been exploring the topic of questions in our recent 4MAT blog series. In almost every 4MAT Train the Trainer program, the question of how to handle questions for which you don’t have the answer comes up. Let’s look at some strategies for effectively addressing questions we don’t know the answer to:

If the question is directly related to the course content and objectives, offer to find the answer. You can share something like: “That’s a great question. I’m going to make a note of this and do a bit of research. I’ll have an answer for you tomorrow morning.” If the course is wrapping up, alternatively, you can offer to send a follow-up email with the information.

If the question is advanced or of interest to only a select few individuals, you might choose to give them some additional resources to explore. You might share something like, “I see you are interested in exploring this further. Let me recommend a helpful book (or blog, url or article) that goes into depth on this topic.”

If the research is not available or contradictory around the topic, let the learners know this. You might say something like, “The jury is out on of this one. Experts such as xx, tell us that xx.  I recently read an article in xx that shared a different perspective. What are your thoughts on this?” Encourage the group to explore the topic further.

If the question is not relevant to the defined outcomes of the course, use a stay-on-track strategy.  If the question is taking the group down a rabbit trail that leads somewhere you don’t want to go, you can use the “parking lot”. Simply post a flip chart paper on the wall to record and  “park” questions or topics for later discussion. It is important to set this up early in the session and explain the use of the parking lot. You might say something like, “That’s a good question. Let’s put this in the parking lot. If we end up with a bit of time left over today, it would be interesting to explore. If we don’t, you and I can chat about this after the session.”

Do you have a favorite strategy for addressing unexpected questions?

4MAT: Free the Hostages

 

Last week, a participant in one of our 4MAT Train the Trainer courses shared her frustration in engaging learners who did not want to be in the training experience. We affectionately began to refer to these participants as “hostages”.

How can we free the hostages to participate fully in the learning experience? Every  shift in behavior begins with a shift in belief. To engage non-engaged learners, we have to shift the belief that there is no value to be gained from the experience. This will only come through personal experience. Simply telling a hostage, “Trust me, this is going to be great”, won’t cut it.

Here are some of the ideas our 4MAT trainer group explored:

1-Define what “value” is to the learner-allow the learners to define expectations and determine what is of interest to them around the topic

Expectations exercise-elicit expectations and design a wall-size mindmap that illustrates common themes.  Link the participant’s expectations to the agenda for the program.

What’s Your Question? Ask participants to answer the following: “If you could explore only one question around this topic, what would it be?” or “What’s the most important thing we should be talking about today?” Link the answers to the program agenda.

2-Engage the learner in a meaningful exploration around the issues that are relevant to them

-Determine the concept of the content. Engage the learner in an exploration of the bigger concept. Think simulations, dialogue on past experience, story-telling and pair shares around provoking questions. At this point, you are exploring the bigger idea, not the content.

The first part of the 4MAT Cycle, Engage, focuses on how to create this experience. When it is done well, the learner sees the personal relevance of the content and is eager to move into content exploration.