The Lesson Plan for Creating an Effective Classroom Training EcosystemComplex, eh?

Lesson plan, then Classroom Training and ecosystem, where are we going with all this? Hope I have your attention. Looking for an explanation, are you?

Lesson plans have always been associated with Classroom Training, also called Instructor Led Training (ILT). As a matter of fact, teachers/ educators are specially trained to create good lesson plans as a part of their training. Ecosystem may seem to be the odd man out. But, if we were to look closely, with the growing dimensions and scope of corporate training, the convergence of technology with traditional Instructor-Led Training, things have become more interconnected and interdependent, creating something quite similar to the natural ecosystem where everything is connected each other.

If we were to consider an average Classroom Training session, there are various components that play critical role in learning and performance improvement. So, what kind of lesson plan should we create so that the learning is holistic and leaves a long-term impact on the learners?

There are various formats of creating a lesson plan, but the Herbartian Approach is quite popular. The approach consists of 6 steps, which can be used as guidelines to create an effective Classroom Training ecosystem with the inclusion of technological assistance of a Learning Management System (LMS).

1. Preparation/Instruction: This step mainly pertains to preparing and motivating the learners to learn, by arousing curiosity. It is just how the ecosystem grows and expands. It involves:

  1. Two or three interesting, but relevant questions – In a Classroom Training session, this can be done by making use of the Assessment module in the LMS for administering a pre-assessment.
  2. Showing a picture/s, a chart or a model – This part of the lesson plan should make extensive use of curriculum building feature that LMSs offer, by incorporating reference materials, eLearning, videos etc. that can complement the Classroom Training session.
  3. A situation Statement of Aim: According to the Herbartian Approach, this involves announcement of the focus of the lesson in a clear, concise manner. For instance, an opening statement like “Today, we shall study the…”. How could this be done in a more corporate manner? This is where learner catalog, session and batch management and notification features of an LMS can be used to its fullest. Not only, would it help in organizing the sessions but also assist the learners in choosing the best time slots that suit them, the courses they actually need, making it more of a self-paced process, which would in turn enhance the effectiveness of training.

2. Presentation/ Development: This is where the actual training begins. For any Classroom Training session to be successful, there has to be an active participation from both – the instructor and the learner. The instructor usually takes the aid of various devices, e.g. questions, illustrations, explanation, expositions, demonstration and sensory aids, etc. Using an LMS as an aid is truly appropriate in today’s world, with its capability to deliver videos, additional information etc. and most of all the ease of use through multi-device compatibility.

For instructors, the following principles can also come in handy:

  1. Principle of selection and division: Dividing the course into modules, and using it in form of blended learning where certain topics can be explained trough classroom sessions, while the rest can be self-learning in the form of eLearning, which can be delivered through the LMS.
  2. Principle of successive sequence: The instructors should also ensure that the learners are clear about the basics of the topic. This can usually be done by providing references that the learners can use as a part of the Flipped classroom model. LMSs can also be used to ensure that the learning continues by making additional references, and extra information available on the learning portal.
  3. Principle of absorption and integration: No matter which method of instruction is used -Flipped, Blended or a mix of both, at the end there should be a flow that should be maintained, so that the learner always feels connected to what s/he learn.

3. Association Comparison: It’s often said that learning is easier when the examples are relatable. It has been observed that new ideas/ concepts are absorbed/ comprehended better when explained using daily life situations as examples. In a classroom setting, creating a scenario using a video, or images can always help in building a better learning foundation.

4. Generalizing: Though often ignored, allowing the learners to draw conclusions of their own is an essential part of the learning process. Learning can become holistic only when it becomes a part of the normal routine. Creating forums, discussion groups, using social media, knowledge collaboration tools etc. are ways to create an ecosystem that favors learning, rather than leaving it to perish after an isolated Classroom Training session. In this manner, the learners continue to learn, and in turn share their learning with their peers. After all, learning is a never-ending process, isn’t it?

5. Application: Why do we train/ learn? It has to have some kind of productive value, doesn’t it? In the usual Classroom Training sessions, learning ends as soon as the training is completed and mandatory assessments are completed. But, in a learning ecosystem, it is reinforced through performance support modules, or assistive videos that can be browsed through at the point of need. This ensures that the learning is actually utilized and applied, in turn improving the overall performance and becoming the driving force behind organizational growth.

6. Recapitulation: The last step of the lesson plan according to the Herbartian Approach, is to ascertain whether the learners have grasped the subject matter or not. This is usually done through a post-assessment that is usually done to analyze the areas of improvement both in terms of instruction and learning capacity. This can be done quite easily using LMSs in a classroom setting, making the whole process simpler and less time consuming.

As David Kelly puts it, “A Learning and Performance Ecosystem is a community of people in conjunction with the processes, information, and technology of their environment, interacting as a system supporting development.” Deriving from this: In order to create a learning ecosystem, the classroom training has to be in conjunction with the socio-collaborative tools and many other features that the LMSs offer (discussed earlier in a blog titled – 17 LMS Must-haves for Effective Classroom Training). Not just that, the entire organization has to play a crucial role in promoting organizational training approaches, and each individual-learner as well as trainer, plays a pivotal role in this ecosystem.