What does a great opener to a learning experience look like? The 4MAT design model defines four critical parts of the learning cycle: Engage, Share, Practice and Perform. What does success look like in Engage? First, let’s look at what it is happening in this critical step of the training experience:
|Part of the 4MAT Cycle||Goal||Learning Climate||Learning Method||You know it’s effective when:||Trainer’s Role|
|EngageThe question is “Why?”||Learners connect personally to the content being delivered.||Easy, open and inviting; focused on listening||Dialogue, discussion and reflection||Learners are sharing personal and meaningful insights related to the content. The learners are engaged and ready to learn.||Facilitator|
Source: McCarthy and O’Neill-Blackwell, Hold On, You Lost Me! Use Learning Styles to Create Training that Sticks, ASTD Press, p 25.
How do we, as trainers, create the desired climate? What kind of activities should we use to generate insights and create meaningful dialogue. Here are 6 activities that work with any content.
1. Expectations (or Big Questions) Exercise
Ask learners to reflect on their expectations for the course. In small groups, have teams share their expectations. Prepare a large flip chart on a visible wall. Record all responses. Link responses to the agenda for the day.
2. Expectations Exercise (Elearning)
You can lead an expectations exercise in an online course. Using a whiteboard with a numbered grid, assign participants to write expectations in an assigned grid section.
Using a visual timeline, learners plot experiences that have shaped their perception or current understanding of the content being shared.
“Think about the people, events and experiences that have shaped your definition of effective leadership. On the timeline, make note of these events and be prepared to share in your table group.”
4. The One Thing
Show “The One Thing” clip from the movie, City Slickers. Encourage participants to reflect on:
-The one thing which, if accomplished, would generate the biggest results.
-The one thing we should be talking about today.
-The one question which, if answered, would make the biggest impact.
5. Partner Interviews (Elearning)
In the chat, participants interview an assigned partner with the task of discovering key areas of interests and past experiences around this topic. On the whiteboard, partners write down what they discovered about their partner’s interests in the course topic.
6. Visual Metaphors Ask the participants to create a visual metaphor which relates to the concept using an item in the room. For example, if you are teaching a course on leadership development, you might choose the concept of “empowerment”. Learners will reflect on “empowerment” and pick an item in the room that illustrates the concept of “empowerment” to them. A learner might choose a light bulb in the room (“illuminating the way”) or a cup of coffee (“energizing others”) to share their understanding of the concept.