Tag Archives: instructional design courses

Cool People Doing Great Things with 4MAT: Dennis Kagimba Mugimba of Compassion International

Compassion International exists as a Christian child advocacy ministry focused on supporting the needs of children throughout the world. The Compassion International learning team began using 4MAT online courses to certify their global instructor team in 2009. Dennis Kagimba Mugimba, Child Survival Program Specialist based in Uganda, recently completed certification in the 4MAT Instructional Design Fundamentals online course.

What are you working on? How are you using 4MAT in this work?

This 4MAT training came in handy at a time when our work-team was in the preparations for rolling out the Human Performance Improvement (HPI) model to the Field staff we support in the five East African countries of Rwanda, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda. We had drawn up some training plans for this rollout training prior to the 4MAT training. However, following the 4MAT training, we felt compelled by the knowledge we had acquired to completely overhaul our earlier plans and return to the drawing board. Everyone on our work-team as well as Management is quite pleased with the new look of Instructional Design that we have come up with – so, well done 4MAT for equipping us.

What have you discovered lately that has positively impacted the results you are creating through the learning experiences you design?

The greatest discovery during this training was the realization that even though we all learn differently because we are wired uniquely, with proper training and skill, the trainer can facilitate learning in a way that addresses the various learning styles/preferences of the learners. By the end of the training, I felt more empowered and equipped to be a better facilitator of learning. From the home-front, through this training, I also became more intentional in trying to understand how my children learn. I have realized Elizabeth likes to be given instructions, Grace-Joy prefers to be shown how to do something before she can go it alone, whereas Christina has no patience for instructions; she simply jumps into the fray!

What’s your favorite quote? Why?

Without a shadow of a doubt, Bernice McCarthy’s quote “The tension between these two ways of perceiving, feeling and thinking, is the central dynamic in learning. So the real issue in learning is how to balance being subject to our feelings with relating to our feelings as object.” is my favorite quote during the class.

The next session of 4MAT Instructional Design Fundamentals begins on October 5, 2012.

4MAT Train the Trainer: 10 Questions to Ask a Subject Matter Expert

“What separates novices from experts?” John Bransford, an education researcher, identified six characteristics which distinguish the understanding of a novice from that of an expert. One of the characteristics is relevant to the conversation around how to help novices gain mastery in a particular area of competency.  “[Experts’] knowledge is not simply a list of facts and formulas that are relevant to their domain; instead their knowledge is organized around core concepts or “big ideas” that guide their thinking about their domains.” If you have experienced a 4MAT train the trainer or instructional design course, you are familiar with this idea of defining the “concept” for your course.

In the 4MAT Leading Training Needs Analysis to Define Results-Focused Learning Outcomes Online Course, we delve into how to elicit these concepts from high performers (subject matter experts).

When working with subject-matter experts, the trainer should be focused on determining these concepts, the “big ideas.”  This might sound easy.  However, it is easy to be overwhelmed or distracted by all the possible content topics and miss the bigger idea.

What if we simply asked the experts to identify the concepts? This sounds like a simple solution, but one of the outcomes of growing expertise (unconscious competence), is the tendency to forget what it is like to be a novice (unconsciously incompetence).

Asking questions that zone in on the different ways that subject matter experts approach the learning content will help you define the right learning outcomes and elicit the content that should be included in your training design.

Here are 10 questions you might use in a subject matter expert interview to help you elicit what master performers “get” that novices need to acquire:

  • Was there ever a moment when you had an “aha!” around this and suddenly it all made sense? If so, will you share this with me?
  • If there were “one thing” that most people don’t get about this area of content, what would that one thing be?
  • What does someone need to understand to do this well?
  • Of all the information you shared, what is most important?
  • If someone were to get “all caught up in the details” around this content, what “big picture” might they miss?
  • When you picture how all this information fits together, what image comes to mind?
  • If you were assigned to give someone feedback on applying this, what would you look for?
  • If you were watching a high performer and a low performer applying this side-by-side, what differences would you see?
  • What kind of situations would require someone to get creative in applying this information?
  • Where might the “wheels come off of the track”?
  • What advice would you give someone to help them prepare for the barriers they might run into when applying this content?

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



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”.

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.