Monday, November 26, 2012

Using Case studies in vocational training

Why leave the superb methodology of case study teaching to academic institutions - universities and business schools?  RTO's and other vocational providers are set to benefit from the growing worldwide trend towards using this engaging process for excellence in learning and development delivery.
I have just attended the brilliant program from ecch delivered by expert professor, Martin Kupp and I see huge potential for using the case study method in training programs at Certificate and Diploma levels.
The right topic for the case study engages all participants from the word go and they start to see the similarities and differences between their own situation and what is described in the case study.
Trainers and facilitators are always challenged by the amount of information we channel - how much is really maintained and retained?
The case study method ensures that people own their learning experience. It is an incredible way of ensuring participant-centered learning.
The method provides participants with skills such as:
  • Critical analysis - they need to think through arguments and arrive at their own conclusions.  Participants experience theoretical frameworks in a real context that is not hypothetical.  They can explore, debate, discuss and review and most importantly recall the key messages.
  • Application of concepts - they have to relate the concepts to the real world and to their own organisation 
  • Problem solving skills - they work through challenges and decide on options for going in different directions.  There is a genuine sense that everyone can contribute to the discussion and the learnings from others in the room are often greater than what they would gain from a facilitator
  • Decision making and evaluation skills - they think on their own and in teams about choices for the best possible option
  • The ability to articulate your argument - the skill to think on your feet and to influence and convince others is critical for leadership
  • The ability to think more broadly than their current industry and to extrapolate these learnings in to their own context. As participants make these connections, they begin to think beyond the linear analysis and transfer these learning to their own challenges
 And now watch this space for on-line and virtual learning via the case study method!  MCI is going to be experimenting in this space and we welcome all contributions and advice.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Moments in training that make my heart sing!

This amazing email from a participant on the MCI Frontline Management program arrived in our inbox addressed to our head of learning and development, George:

"So this morning I put my watch on the opposite wrist....and couldn't bear it so put it back!  But I then drove a different way for the childcare/school/work trip, so does that count?" 

The topic of the training program was around change and the group was challenged to determine small ways in which they could build resilience to change so that when major changes occur there is less anxiety and more flexibility.  
This email from one of the participants highlights just how these ideas were taken on board and put in to action + followed up + followed through!
WOW - what would be possible if there were always shifts in thinking as a result of a training program!

Here are some tips to ensure that there are indeed more and more of those small and cumulative shifts that finally create major waves of change:

1. Encourage individuals to verbalise their commitments at the end of the session.  It is great to write them down and even more effective to say them out loud.  Research shows that we are more likely to keep to our word when it is verbalised particularly in front of our colleagues.

2. Ensure that the key messages are relevant to the participants.  By the end of the session, they need to know how the changes expected relate to them and how the tools and techniques provided can be implemented in their real working environment.  If they don't see that connection, they are not going to be passionate enough about the changes in skills and behaviours to in fact use them.

3. Participants need to recall the key points after the session has ended.  How many times do we forget what we learnt by the next morning? It is up to trainers to use every trick in the book to ensure that they remember what needs to be remembered:
  • Use repetition - say it in many ways over and over again...Use all the communication media available and keep it visual
  • Break training down in to small chunks so that the recency and primacy factors kick in - we tend to remember the first and the last thing we hear and therefore we need many 'first' and 'last' things said as the day is broken down in to smaller bite size pieces
  • Ensure that participants take their own notes - you have a far greater chance of remembering what you write down in your own words.