4 Concepts to Consider When Planning a Course

By Cameron Young

Teaching others a new concept can be daunting not just for the learner but also the teacher. And as instructors, we often make it harder on ourselves than it necessarily needs to be. It is understandable as we are ambitious beings; we see the light and run straight towards it.

Take for instance, ever since I was a wee child, I wanted to ride a motorcycle. I thought it was just the coolest thing. I remember watching my dad leave to go ride and the first time I was allowed to ride on the back. When finally, my father deemed me to be old enough to learn; I was so hyped.

I am going to ride so fast, weaving in and out of traffic, and pop so many wheelies! But to my dismay on the day we were to begin lessons, he wheeled out of the garage not his motorcycle but a bicycle.

At first, I thought it was a joke. So when he told me to take a few laps around the neighborhood on it, I did so. Returning thinking, now I am going to learn but nope. He then continued to drone on about gears, ratios, the mechanics of the bike. To end the day, he told me that he expected me to ride everyday, focusing on getting faster and going farther. And to keep my bike in top form.

After a month or so, I found myself so comfortable on the bike; pedalling, climbing, gear shifting, cornering were executed effortlessly. It was only then that I began learning with a motorcycle.

This little story, I hope illustrated a few points of effective teaching; or as I like to call it, facilitated internalization. I find it much more efficient to frame ideas within a story.

So let’s breakdown a few ideas that can be found in the story above:

The “golden ratio” when it comes to learning is the frequency of learning through a certain method.

10% should be through formalized courses and lessons.

20% should be with a mentor.

70% should be experiential learning; or through trial and error

I started with the big goal of riding a motorcycle. My father helped my along the way and taught me a few key processes but I learned the most “on my own”. And that’s the key to learning, the student needs to feel a sense of responsibility to learn. If I didn’t get up on the bike, I didn’t learn; I knew that. This ratio is a good guideline to balance between spoonfeeding concepts and leaving a person high and dry.

Well I did promise four tricks so this last concept is adapted from a productivity hack called the Pomodoro technique; yes like the tomato. It is actually named after the tomato alarm clock. It is quite simple, you are to work for 25 minutes and then take 5-10 minute break. After 4 pomodori or cycles, you take a longer break up to 30 minutes. This allows you to work in intense spurts and prevent yourself from burning out. The concept we will pull from the pomodoro technique is that each lesson in your course should be about 25 minutes.

So that’s it, four ideas to consider to accelerate your employees learning.