Tip #679: There are No Dry Topics

“I can excuse everything but boredom. Boring people don’t have to stay that way.” Hedy Lamarr

There are no dry topics, just dry training.

If you don’t believe me, consider these two creative participant-centered learning activities that replace the lecture typically used for teaching rules and benefits.

These activities were designed and facilitated during the Professional Trainers’ Certificate program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Continuing Studies.

Note: For both activities, the participants are seated five to a table. The activities work best if there is an even number of participants and no more than 5 content items.

Using art to teach rules and test retention. (With thanks to James Phetteplace)

  1. Provide a list of the rules.
  2. Have each participant at each table draw a picture to illustrate one of the rules, so that all of the rules are drawn at the table.
  3. Have the participants write out the rule they’ve just drawn on the other side of their paper drawing.
  4. Pairing two tables, ask for a volunteer representative from each table.
  5. Have the table representatives trade the pictures from their respective tables with each other.
  6. Have one of the table representatives show the other table’s pictures to their group.
  7. See how quickly that group can recite the correct rule when viewing the other group’s pictures.
  8. Repeat actions (6) and (7) with the other table.
  9. If desired, this can be competitive so the table group that recites the correct rules the fastest wins a prize.

Research has shown that visual images are remembered and recalled much more easily than words, so this activity is very effective.

Using color-coded Q and A to teach employee benefits. (With thanks to Tara Pray)

  1. Provide color-coded reference pages with the relevant new benefits information.
  2. Pairing two tables, give the participants at one table small slips of paper with the questions and the other table’s participants small slips of paper with the answers.
  3. Color code the Q and A slips with the relevant benefits information.
  4. Have the differently color-coded pairs work together to discover the information that shows the Q and the A.
  5. Provide a fill in the blanks worksheet with all of the questions, leaving the answers blank.
  6. Have each pair read their Q and A- so everyone can write them down on the worksheet.
  7. Also have each pair indicate the page in the reference where they found that Q and A.

The resulting worksheet with key benefits questions and answers, as well as the page of the relevant reference, becomes a useful job aid.

How do you bring “dry” topics to life?

May your learning be sweet.



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