The question is where does the “how to” instruction go? In most training, we provide the instruction at the beginning, then give the learner a chance to practice. But what if the instruction was built into the practice activity?
The “deep end” approach may not always be the answer, and the audience and content need to be considered. A follow-up article by Cathy Moore talks about when a more controlled and guided approach is appropriate.
For me, I’m considering the “deep end” approach more and more in my training development. And even if I don’t forego the instruction entirely, I have discovered that it can be minimized letting the activity provide more instruction.
For example, in a recent course on a company’s Code of Ethical Conduct, we don’t instruct on what is ethical and what is not (i.e., conflicts of interest, confidential information, relationships with suppliers, etc.). Instead, we present branching scenarios where learners (safely) experience the outcomes of their actions (on themselves and the company), and in the process, learn about the company’s code of ethical conduct. The goal with the training is for employees to make ethical decisions. The challenge of experiencing the consequences (whether positive or negative) without a lot of prior instruction might make them work a little harder, but that work is more likely to lead to behavior change. I know when I work hard on something, I come away having learned a lot… and equally important, I remember what I learned. Consider the approach with your next training project.
I’m off to the pool with my baby… safely in my arms.