“The teacher must adopt the role of facilitator, not content provider.” Lev S. Vygotsky
In Part One, we addressed two concerns about using participatory learning activities. We pointed out that there are many participant-centered activities that are easy to create, take little time to deliver, and cost next to nothing. We also discussed that, regardless of the learning activity, it is ultimately the trainer who has the final word.
Let’s now consider how to address the third concern about losing control of the content and the learners.
- The trainer can maintain control over the content and the learners during participatory activities.
Basic facilitation skills in classroom management that enable the trainer to maintain control include:
- modeling the desired behavior in an example before the learners work on their own;
- providing detailed instructions;
- clarifying the desired end result of the activity;
- allocating a specific time period for the activity;
- monitoring the activity;
- intervening where necessary to clarify instructions or better focus a small group on the desired activity;
- keeping learners apprised of the amount of time they have remaining to complete the activity;
- closing down the activity;
- debriefing the activity by drawing answers or results from one or more work groups; and
- confirming or correcting group answers or results.
The trainer is actually in control of the activity at all times. The trainer has designed the activity, can guide the learners in the direction they need to go, can stop the activity to clarify and refocus where necessary, and will have the final say regarding the time the activity takes and the learning that occurs.
Participatory learning activities can be inexpensive, quick, and easy to design, and result in effective learning that builds learner mastery. When trainers embrace participatory learning activities in lieu of lecture, they still retain expert credibility and content control. The only real difference is that now the learners are doing the work rather than the trainer! Isn’t that the way it should be?
If you would like to learn how to design and facilitate participatory learning activities, contact Deborah Laurel at email@example.com to hear about her proven Train the Trainer program.
May your learning be sweet- and safe.
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