A few weeks ago, I went through some training to become a certified consultant for a practice management software platform. Being in the learner seat was another great reminder of things to remember when teaching to ensure that learners are retaining as much of the content as possible and then able to use what they have learned back on the job.
Curve Ball. For most of the modules, I was required to watch videos and then answer some questions to confirm my understanding of the subject. I was breezing through until I encountered several questions that weren’t included in the videos. I knew this, because I was taking copious notes. This was a real curve ball until I remembered that at the beginning I had been instructed to use the software’s support site for assistance as needed. Sure enough, after a quick search, I had the answers I needed.
This reminded me that sometimes we spoon feed learners, which is doing them a disservice. People need to be able to help themselves and not depend on someone else for their answers. Otherwise, why even bother providing support resources? It is also good to challenge learners. The process of finding the answer gave me valuable experience and confidence in my ability to use the support system to find answers. Encountering a challenge in the learning environment is much better than back on the job.
Indicating Confidence. In addition to answering the questions for each module, I had to indicate my confidence level in the answers that I provided. Too often, instructors assume that because someone can answer a few multiple choice questions, they have mastered the subject. This isn’t enough. We should ask learners to perform tasks in the same way that they will in the course of their day-to-day work.
Adaptive learning is becoming more prevalent. This is where modules present different content, based on the learner’s demonstrated mastery or lack thereof during the learning process. It adapts to focus on the learner’s weak areas. With learning technology improvements, our interventions will be more and more effective at focusing in on what learners haven’t quite grasped.
Putting Knowledge into Action. At the end of the modules, I was required to create a contact and matter, perform several additional tasks, and then produce and send an invoice for the matter I created. The modules had only covered individual task areas. To complete the course, I had to link those tasks into a few common workflows.
This type of summative assessment where learners are asked to pull together all of the pieces is too often missing from our courses. Again, I was challenged and had to refer back to my notes, but this is part of how we learn. It was good to realize that I didn’t remember quite as much as I thought I did, which encouraged me to review a few other portions that weren’t completely clear. After completing my review and the lengthy assignment, I knew I was ready to confidently use the software. Educational goal accomplished!