As a professional speaker, I teach skills and motivate participants to make positive change. When designing a program, I try to make it interesting and engaging as well as educational. While my programs may be fun, they are not "just for fun." The primary goal is to meet mutually agreed upon learning objectives, while engaging participants in active learning. The core elements of active learning are student activity and engagement in the learning process, as contrasted to the traditional lecture where students passively receive information from the instructor. Numerous studies show that training delivered in a more interactive and entertaining format increases learner attention and retention.
Attention span during a lecture is roughly fifteen minutes (Wankat 2002). After that, the number of students paying attention begins to drop dramatically with a resulting loss of retention of lecture material (Hartley & Davies 1978). When designing a training program you should purposely vary the activities and teaching strategies approximately every fifteen minutes. The techniques can include traditional lecturing, but also classroom demonstrations, collaborative learning, and problem-based learning. You can use humor, brain teasers, physical exercises, storytelling, magic tricks and other activities to capture and hold attention while actively engaging participants in the learning process. Studies show that mixed modality presentations improve results for subjects across the board (Coffield, Moseley, Hall & Ecclestone 2004). For example:
Your goal should be to create a program that surpasses the typical PowerPoint lecture -one that captures the attention of participants, engages them in active learning, and teaches specific skills to improve workplace performance.
What active learning strategies will you use in your next program design?
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