Tip #5/5 for Making Learning Stick: Unleash your learners!

For our fifth and final tip about making learning “stick”, we bring you one that may upend the hierarchy in your relationship with learners. And that might make you and your learners uncomfortable at first. And you’d do that because…. (hint: it’s better learning).

Employ structures that unleash contributions and innovation

Credit and thanks to Liberating Structures (see www.liberatingstructures.com)

The wise folks at Liberating Structures posit that conventional training structures are either too inhibiting (presentations, status reports and managed discussions) or too loose and disorganized (open discussions and brainstorms) to creatively engage people in shaping their own future. If you believe that and if you’re in the business of adult ed, which is really all about helping people shape their future, then you’d want to be on the look out for new ways of doing things, right?

Liberating structures offer an alternative way to approach working with people. They foster lively participation in groups of any size. And the design work has been done for you! The Liberating Structures website offers 33 activities (or “microstructures”) that can be offered as individual exercises or combined to create a workshop of any length.

Before you dismiss this as too revolutionary for you or your audience, consider that I incorporated liberating structures into software training (!) for research staff at a hospital system (!!), including:

All three of the structures listed above are now favorites of mine. They lighten things up, spark conversations, get people up and out of their seats, and I believe that they help make learning stick. Whenever I include liberating structures in a training design, I love the resulting feel in the room that everyone’s ideas are welcome, the fresh ideas that bubble up, and the speed with which we move through a group process. All of these benefits can be yours by pushing through a bit of discomfort at the beginning.

How does it all add up?

To review the 5 tips for making learning stick, we have

  1. Take care of basic needs
  2. Appeal to a variety of styles
  3. Provide interaction
  4. Do the tell-show-do
  5. Unleash your learners

What do you think? Is there a 6th tip you would add?

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