No More Dumping


For the last seven months or so, I’ve been examining learning designs I’ve used for face-to-face and online professional learning (PL) experiences in the past. As I read blog posts and articles from Cathy Moore and books like Designing for How People Learn by Julie Dirksen, I see how I’ve been guilty of dumping all over my participants. The information dump phenomenon goes by many names… sit and get, drive by and spray and pray. Although  I see a progression in the right direction on many of my latest PL designs, my goal is to really let DOING instead of KNOWING drive my design choices. I want to also incorporate the idea of learner choice into the equation. Let me emphasize here that I’ve always been an advocate of learner choice and I’ve done so by providing multiply options for participants to choose which activity to complete. BUT, the problem in my design has always been in providing the information first (presentation) and then allowing time for learners to take action (do something). Sticking to such a linear progression keeps me from being able to differentiate for varying learner abilities.

Instead of marching through content in an information –> activity, information –> activity, information –> activity type way, I’ve learned how to provide a problem-based scenario in which the learner creates a solution. Now here’s the choice part. Participants are faced with the problem first but information they may need is provided and they can access it if they need it. This way, you’re not boring anyone who already knows the content but needs practice applying solutions using that content. And, anyone who needs information first before they begin to create a solution can access the information they need so that learning looks less like information –> activity and more like this.

Photo Credit: Cathy Moore – Action Mapping

Based on what I’ve learned, I was able to meet one of my professional growth goals by redesigning a mini-lesson that I co-created during the Kentucky Professional Learning Academy. Take a look at Design 1 and then Design 2 which incorporates scenario-based learning using action mapping and learner choice strategies. What do you think? Be a critical friend and leave a comment.