I spent time with another client this week developing activity-based learning modules. It was a manufacturing company which is introducing a new apprenticeship.
Even though we had previously used this approach as a starting point we had kept on being dragged back into the content-based approach.
First we heard suggestions such as, “You need to give the learners something.” Then we heard suggestions like, “You’ll have to compile a set of resources for the facilitator,” or “Put together a comprehensive set of x in the training room so the learners don’t have to go a find them in the factory.”
We did succumb to the latter two suggestions and compiled a set of resources. But the facilitators told us quite categorically that they don’t need them, “The guys will know!”
Content-based meant that the facilitators were in charge. Activity-based meant that the learners were in charge and the facilitators merely provided guidance.
So the guidelines to facilitators became phrases such as, ” Make sure that they have created at least 3 categories of x” or “If they don’t find relevant information of the WWW suggest this site, http…”.
In this case we ended up with four documents which made up the module:
15 of the 16 people who arrived as “experts” had never facilitated before. Yet within 20 minutes they had understood and supported the underlying logic of the modules. They were even willing to become facilitators if this was the approach.
I had a similar experience when using activities as the underlying basis of modules in a totally different industry and with a total different set of skills.