Thursday, May 07, 2015

The Last Study Guide You'll Ever Need

Once upon a time, I wrote a three-and-a-half hour screenplay that was divided into 12 short films for a small group learning experience. The story featured about a dozen characters who bounced and careened off each other as they learned the same lessons the small groups who were watching the movie.

The study guide for the project was user-friendly, beautifully designed and expensive. And almost nobody used it.

There just wasn't time to watch an 18-minute movie, hear everyone in the group talk about what struck them from the story, AND go through the study guide. Nobody cared how good it was (in fact, almost nobody knew how good it was because they never looked at again after the first episode).

I knew that was going to happen, and that it had nothing to do with the quality of the guide. Instead, it had everything to do with how people learn.

Without going into a whole thing about how people learn, let me say this: All the questions I write for study guides and group discussions are variations on a series of three core questions about a shared experience — be that a video, a reading, a lecture, a mission trip... whatever:

  1. What’s the most significant thing about we just experienced?
  2. Why do you think that’s important?
  3. How do you think you could put that to work in real-life?

That's it: The last study guide you'll ever need.

There are lots of ways to ask those three questions. 

  • What? Why? and How? is baked into the progression above.
  • Or you could go with What? So What? Now What? 
  • Or Observe. Consider. Decide.
  • Monkey See. Monkey Say. Monkey Do.
  • Or...
It almost doesn't matter as long as you honor The First Law of Good Questions:
A good question is one to which you don't know the answer. [h/t to Wayne Rice]
This is important because, when you ask a good question, you engage the insights of people who shared the same experience but may not share the same perceptions about that experience. Any reasonably intelligent and open group of people is likely to learn more together — by sharing what stuck, why that was sticky, and how they believe it connects to something else — than any of them can learn all by themselves.

So, you make sure to give your group something worth considering and then get out of the way so they can learn. 

You, of course, will learn too. You'll learn what what your group found, what they didn't find, and whether they need to spend more time on the subject at hand.

Here, try it yourself: 

1. What do you think are the most important ideas from The Last Study Guide You'll Ever Need?

2. Why do you think that's important?

3. How can you imagine putting that to work in your learning environment?

[Related Post: esting, testing | a new video delivery system]

No comments: