5 ways to help participants take responsibility for their learning experience

E.T. can teach you a lot about how to be a memorable trainer.

In the movie, the little boy, Elliott, is staked out in his backyard… because he thinks a weird creature is out there.

He sees E.T., and E.T. gives Elliott the Reese's Pieces that Elliott had been putting all over the place… trying to lure whatever creature was out there.

Elliott wants to get E.T. to come inside his house and hide in his bedroom. So when Elliott realizes that E.T. likes the Reese's Pieces, he creates a trail of Reese's Pieces to lure E.T. into his room.

If Elliott had tried to grab E.T. and force him into his room, E.T. probably wouldn't have cooperated.

But because Elliott used something E.T. wanted as bait, that motivated E.T. to choose to take himself exactly where Elliott wanted to take him.

Still, it was E.T.'s reponsibility to take himself there.

As trainers, we have our own "Reese's Pieces" that we can use to motivate our learners to take themselves where we want to take them... in terms of the knowledge they’ll gain, the habits they’ll form, and the results they’ll get.

I guess you could say, if you want to motivate your learners to stay engaged so that they remember and apply your content... you need to give them a sense of “Reese-ponsibil-E.T.”

(I’m sorry.)

OK, so how do we do that?

Use these five strategies below!

1. Completion

When you create tension for our learners, or present something that is unfinished, or ask a question that builds their curiosity... they want resolution and completion.

They'll be motivated to stay engaged until they find that completion!

For example, can you match these numbers below…

  • 1
  • 7
  • 8
  • 93
  • 100
  • 329
  • 900

…with the correct blanks in these outer-space trivia questions below?

  1. The Earth is ___ MILLION miles away from the Sun
  2. It takes ___ MINUTES for the Sun’s light to reach us
  3. You could fit over ___ MILLION Earths inside the Sun
  4. The Milky Way galaxy has at least ___ BILLION stars
  5. The planet Venus reaches temperatures up to ___°F
  6. The largest known asteroid is ___ MILES wide
  7. Worldwide UFO sightings in 2020: ___ THOUSAND

Keep reading, and I’ll reveal the correct answers by the end of this blog…

2. Teach-backs

Let’s say you wanted to teach that outer-space trivia content above.

You could have every learner in your class go to Google and research the answer to every blank. Or you could divide learners into groups, and have each group member be responsible for tracking down specific pieces of information… and then they report their findings back to their group.

That way, everybody gets the benefit of doing all the research without having to take all that time.

Maybe you could do an activity like this with a long policy manual, and you can assign different chapters to different group members… and let them summarize their chapter for the group.

3. Revisiters

If you REVIEW content, that's just you as the trainer parroting what you’ve already said. Boring!

But REVISITING content is where you put the responsibility on the learner to think back and refresh their brains on what they've learned.

In our three-day online workshops, we often play a game called "Dice of Fate", where each number on the die represents a different bucket of content we've covered together. We split learners into groups, and they each roll their die. Depending on what they roll, they have to think back to something they've learned about that content bucket and share a key takeaway.

4. Handouts

If you design your handout thoughtfully, then throughout your training, your learners can be filling in blanks, drawing, taking notes, etc.

Make your handout something your learners will want to keep!

5. Application Time

Build in application time during your training for learners to think about what next steps they'll take to apply what you've taught them.

Among those five strategies above, which one are you most excited to incorporate into your next training?

PS… here are the correct answers to the outer-space trivia questions from earlier!

  1. The Earth is 93 MILLION miles away from the Sun
  2. It takes 8 MINUTES for the Sun’s light to reach us
  3. You could fit over 1 MILLION Earths inside the Sun
  4. The Milky Way galaxy has at least 100 BILLION stars
  5. The planet Venus reaches temperatures up to 900°F
  6. The largest known asteroid is 329 MILES wide

Worldwide UFO sightings in 2020: 7 THOUSAND

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