Laurel and Associates, Ltd. – Madison, WI

Category Archives : learning activities

Tip #693:  Why Did It Happen?

On October 17, 2017, Posted by , In learning activities, By ,, , With Comments Off on Tip #693:  Why Did It Happen?

“Without reflection, we go blindly on our way, creating more unintended consequences, and failing to achieve anything useful.”  Margaret J. Wheatley

In participative learning, it is important that each learning activity be debriefed to give the participants an opportunity to reflect on their experience and reinforce their learning.

It is just as important to have those involved in a critical work situation take time to assess whether the actions taken were effective and, if not, what should be done differently in the future.

I’ve always thought that it made sense to debrief a learning activity or management situation by asking these three questions:

  1. What went well?
  2. What didn’t go well, and why not?
  3. What did you learn?

Recently, I read … Read the rest

Tip #688: Experiencing Failed Communication

On September 12, 2017, Posted by , In learning activities, By ,, , With Comments Off on Tip #688: Experiencing Failed Communication

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” George Bernard Shaw

The following activities were designed and facilitated by Mercy Corps staff who attended a train the trainer session in Amman, Jordan. Each activity demonstrates one or more reasons why communication fails.

Secret Message:  Heba Asaad created a game about seven factors of communication. She split the eight people into four teams: A and B. The A teams at each table were given a secret message and told to mold playdough so that it represented the message.

Once the A teams were done, Heba placed clown masks on them. She told the B teams that they could only ask closed questions to try … Read the rest

Tip #686: New Perspectives

On August 29, 2017, Posted by , In learning activities, By ,, , With Comments Off on Tip #686: New Perspectives

“Perspective is worth 80 IQ points.” Alan Kay

I recently conducted a workshop to introduce U.S. trainers to a variety of creative learning activities designed by Jordanians. The workshop began by explaining the context in which the activities were designed.

Because the participants in the Jordanian train the trainer program work for Mercy Corps, their focus was on major issues. These include: a poor economy, non-existent energy and water resources, lack of women’s equity, violence against women, and the impact of the Syrian refugee crisis on a poor country with limited resources.

My intention was to explain how each activity was designed and facilitated, and then have the workshop participants experience it in an adapted form. I did my best … Read the rest

Tip #680: Creative Ways to Check for Retention

On July 18, 2017, Posted by , In learning activities, By ,, , With Comments Off on Tip #680: Creative Ways to Check for Retention

“Never, ever underestimate the importance of having fun.” Randy Pausch

I’ve been designing and delivering training for many years- and I am constantly surprised and delighted at the creative learning activities participants in train-the-trainer programs design! This is one of the primary perks of participant-centered learning programs, because the facilitator is always learning new information, perspectives and techniques from the participants!

Here are three retention-checking learning activities that I’ve never seen before that were both effective and a lot of fun. All three of the activities also incorporate elements of challenge and competition, which adult learners appreciate.

One of the activities was designed by a participant in a Professional Trainers Certificate program in Madison, Wisconsin, and the other two activities … Read the rest

Tip #679: There are No Dry Topics

On July 11, 2017, Posted by , In learning activities, By ,, , With Comments Off on Tip #679: There are No Dry Topics

“I can excuse everything but boredom. Boring people don’t have to stay that way.” Hedy Lamarr

There are no dry topics, just dry training.

If you don’t believe me, consider these two creative participant-centered learning activities that replace the lecture typically used for teaching rules and benefits.

These activities were designed and facilitated during the Professional Trainers’ Certificate program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Continuing Studies.

Note: For both activities, the participants are seated five to a table. The activities work best if there is an even number of participants and no more than 5 content items.

Using art to teach rules and test retention. (With thanks to James Phetteplace)

  1. Provide a list of the rules.
  2. Have each participant
Read the rest

Tip #639: Ensure Relevance

On September 19, 2016, Posted by , In learning activities, By ,, , With Comments Off on Tip #639: Ensure Relevance

“Language exerts hidden power, like the moon on the tides.” Rita Mae Brown

For many years, I have used the same case study in a seminar to teach managers how to coach their employees to improve performance. Luckily, it has resonated with participants in the past, so I had no idea that it needed to be revised.

Recently, I had a rude awakening when the class (composed of participants with similar roles and responsibilities to previous participants) pointed out that the case study needed improvement to be meaningful for them.

Here are the changes that they requested:

  1. Current Language: The employee in question is identified by name but not by title.

Recommended Revision: Include the employee’s title, … Read the rest