The Chalk Blog

Professional Learning Series: Application

Make Professional Learning Applicable to Your Participants

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What would Ben do? (WWBD)

Ben (Franklin) was just down right smart. He once said, “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” This quote is often used when discussing educating children, but when you have a room full of adult learners, how do you get them involved?  

Well, WWBD? Ben would probably offer opportunities for adult learners to apply their learning. This is one excellent method to involve the learner.  

How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School (National Academy Press, 2001), based on the National Research Council’s report on learning science, includes a component of learning called Knowledge Centeredness. Knowledge Centeredness ensures that “…knowledge is accessible and applied appropriately.” Research on andragogy, the art and science of adult learning, stresses the fact that adult learners want to apply learning immediately vs. postponing application. Transformational Learning is described as “…learning that changes the way individuals think about themselves and their world, and that involves a shift of consciousness.” It also includes a key component where a facilitator guides application of new learning. 

Learners Edge has always believed that professional learning must be applicable and relevant. Based on this belief and research, the Learners Edge Professional Learning Model includes direct application of new learning. Participants apply new learning through the practical design of tools to be used with students, parents or colleagues. They may be asked to create and implement plans based on new learning. Adult learners are given the opportunity to collaborate on coursework through applications, project discussion forums, and chat rooms. Learners Edge understands that collaboration is extremely valuable. It solidifies learning and transforms future practices for the participants who might also influence the educators around them. We work hard to make sure our course offerings are applicable to those that take them. 

But how can you make your professional learning offering more applicable? Check out these three strategies: 

  1. Provide the opportunity for the participant to choose how they will show their learning. This gives them a chance to align what they are learning with their role. It also provides a chance for them to complete necessary work tasks/responsibilities while learning. A few examples: 
    • A participant may know they have to create a lesson plan, parent handout, or common assessment for their class. If that need aligns with their topic of learning, work with them to use that work project as a demonstration of their professional learning. Much more applicable than a randomly assigned task! 
    • An adult learner is learning your content and charged to learn about a new tech tool. Allow the learner to demonstrate their learning using the tech tool and “kill two birds with one stone.” Super applicable! 
  2. Be flexible. Encourage participants to come to you with their ideas on topics, learning activities, etc. even if those ideas aren’t in the initial plan. Then, truly consider them! Remember, the goal is learning through applicability. This strategy also increases intrinsic motivation and ownership in professional learning. It’s a win-win, and what’s more applicable than the learner telling the teacher what they want and need?! 
  3. Develop activities and share resources they can use the very next day. This increases the likelihood that they will use what is being taught and sooner than later! Challenge them to try a new strategy or use a resource with students, parents, or colleagues. Make it easy by asking them to attempt one small thing! 

Ben also said, “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” So, WWBD? He would provide opportunities for adult learners to invest in their knowledge through application. Thanks, Ben! 

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Topics: Teaching Wellness & Inspiration, Professional Learning Model

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