One of the hidden elements of really good courses run by professional educators is the expertise, careful consideration and detailed planning that goes into ensuring that the course has really impactful outcomes for its participants. This means that the course needs to be designed in such a way and to set up the learners (for that is who they are) really to absorb the learning effectively, and then to be able to translate this learning into action. The facilitation of learning is an art – a real craft, in fact – and yet all too often not nearly enough attention is paid to the HOW of the learning, not just the WHAT (which is why so many online courses, if I were being uncharitable, are quite frankly a bit rubbish!).
So let me lift the curtain just a smidgeon on some of the planning that has gone into ensuring that the #betterboards course for Board members in international schools, which Matthew Savage and I are running again soon, starting on Monday 17 May …
First, we thought about Board members and their availability (or lack thereof) – we wanted to set up the learning environment so that the information is routed to the pre-frontal cortex rather than the limbic or automatic brain. To reduce the stress which might make this latter (and less desirable) destination more likely, we therefore organised the course so it could be accessed at any time online, to meet the preferences of busy people who will undoubtedly have different preferences about when they learn and think best. We also designed the course so that lessons are only released at certain points, to avoid overload or a sense of overwhelm of information.
Then we thought about how to make the content really engaging, and so we planned short bite-size pieces of input, including videos, online links, written instructions which are clear and reassuring, and other interactive activities – including, very importantly, the ability to meet and interact with other learners through the forums, building a network in a very structured manner, as the participants are responding to specific questions, to help guide some of this interaction.
As part of our careful design for effective learning, we also thought about how we could ensure relevance and real-time engagement with the participants’ schools, in a non-invasive, non-demanding but still purposeful and useful way. And so we built that in too. Of course, the content is all excellent as well – we know our stuff.
One thing, though, learning only works if learners turn up … we’ve made it as straightforward as possible for you, so if you or a Board Member you know wants to find out about how to create #betterboards, come and join us.
Spoiler alert for those of you who are coming to hear us speak at the annual COBIS conference on Tuesday about #betterboards … but here is one of our final slides, explaining how much the Board members who attended our last course benefited from the experience.
See you there …