Monthly Archives: April 2009

Expectations Activity

Two Harvard University researchers, Rosenthal and Jacobsen gave an intelligence test to all of the students at an elementary school at the beginning of the year. They then randomly chose 20% of the students and assigned them to a select group of teachers. The teachers were told that the students they were assigned for the year showed “unusual potential for intellectual growth” and they could expect to see the children “bloom” over the year. At the end of the school year, the researchers came back and re-tested the children. Those children labeled as “intelligent” showed significantly greater increase in testing over the other children in the school. The change in the teachers’ expectations of the children led to a concrete change in the children’s test results.

Expectations are a powerful force in life. Think about any instance when you have been unhappy and I bet you can link the unhappiness to an expectation that was not met. The truth is, what we believe to be and what we believe will be has a great impact on what actually is.  Tap into the learners’ expectations, meet them and you have a dynamic learning experience. The only way to do this is to create dialogue, be flexible and trust your ability to go where the learning conversation needs to go.

How to do this?

1-Do a reality check on your expectations. Are you expecting a certain reaction to the content? Are you expecting a certain level of interest or disinterest from the learner? Are you expecting that “this group” won’t do “this activity”?  Be careful that your expectations are shaped by reality–observations of what learners need, concrete data and real listening give us a good picture of expectations and a map to meeting them.

2-Start with an expectations exercise. At the beginning of a course,  ask the learners to reflect on and answer the question, “It is the end of this session and you leave thinking to yourself, “This was a good investment of my time.” What expectations would be met for you to feel this was a meaningful investment of time?”

After individually answering, have table groups combine their thoughts into themes. Mindmap all the responses shared from the table groups. You can now connect the agenda to the expectations, adjust as needed and handle any gaps up front.

In a first-time manager course we developed for a client, we simply created a page in the course workbook that describes the Oak School experiment.  For the 4mat-savvy, this was our Attend (1L) activity. We then asked the participants to answer two questions individually and in group:

What is the relationship between expectations and performance?

How does this relationship impact your role in leading your team to higher performance?

Invite dialogue around expectations. Lead the learner to a shared expectation of the course outcomes. You will create more happiness in the world.

If an image is worth a thousand words, then clearly using images is one of the most powerful content delivery tools we have. Because of this, we are always on the lookout for new ways to visually share information. On the cover of Entrepreneur magazine, we discovered a hip group of guys who have created Animoto. Animoto allows you to upload images, choose music from a free-license library, push a button and create a professional-quality video. You can do a free version that lasts a couple of minutes or a longer commercial version for a minimal fee.

We were working with a client on a design launch focused on this month’s Earth Day. We produced this video in less than 30 minutes. 4MAT 4Business Video: Water Awareness

6 Social Activities for Elearning

I frequently get questions about how to do the 4MAT quadrant one in elearning. In Engage, the first step of the 4MAT model, we are creating a learning that encourages authentic sharing and meaningful dialogue. To do this, we must create a sense of community. This morning, I stumbled across this link highlighting 6 social activities:

I like the website idea–asking elearning participants to share three websites that illustrate their personal interests. Here is mine:

Margaret Wheatley on conversations:

Brain Rules–reading this book now and loving it:

Facebook-join our instructional design community of practice:

What is Learning?


We all perceive and then process our experiences, along with the information gained from the experiences. The differences in thewe approach these two activities define our learning style. 

Perceiving: how  we take in information-through experiences, reading, listening, visualizing or other sensory modes

Processing: how we determine the meaning, store and retrieve information-reflecting, watching, jumping in and doing, sitting back and observing

 These differences define our learning style.  Type One learners are feelers and watchers. Type Two learners are watchers and thinkers. Type Three learners are thinkers and doers. Type Four learners are doers and feelers. Your learning style influences your communication, coaching, leading and training style.

Learning is so much more than classroom instruction. Reading an email,  meeting, coaching, communicating are all learning processes. Our preferences impact how we engage and disengage in every situation that involves taking in and processing information.

Is understanding the same as knowing?

cimg1191I was recently in Minneapolis having a birthday dinner celebration with friends. We were at a great little bistro that allowed us to look out the window onto the street.  My friend said, “Oh look, it’s snowing. Big, fat snowflakes.” Her husband said, “That’s definitely Cary Grant snow.” The conversation continued with the naming of the snow. They have quite a snow vocabulary in Minnesota.  As a Louisiana girl, snow is snow. We see it every 2o years or so and it all looks the same–amazing.

This year, we experienced snow in South Louisiana for the first time in many, many years. My two youngest daughters, ages 9 and 5, experienced snow for the first time. Of course, they know what snow is. They understand that it is cold and white. Yet, they had never experienced it. My husband and I woke them up and they ran outside in overcoats tossed over their pj’s. After catching snow on their tongues and making snow angels, my littlest one said to me, “Mommy, I never imagined that snow would be wet.”

Understanding is not the same as knowing. It is experience that gives us true knowledge. Craft experiences that tap into what the learner knows. Lead the learner into deeper knowing by choosing activities that immerse into, explore, apply and adapt information. This deep dive moves the learner from understanding into knowledge.