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Posts Tagged ‘Education’

A Different Education Math

Minnesota spend about $8500 per student each year. It fails somewhere in the middle among the states. So for a class of 30, you have a pool of $255,000 to work with. What could you do with that kind of money?

Well first thing you’ll need is a classroom for 200 days. I’ve booked a lot of meeting rooms and you can get a nice space in a nice hotel for about $250 a day. That’s $50,000. But that includes all the clean up and AV. Average teacher salary is $50,000. So let’s take two of those. We’ve spent $150,000 so far. What to do with the rest?

I know, let’s get them a health club membership. Let’s do $40 per month per student for 9 months. That’s about $10,000.

While you wouldn’t get everyone a new laptop every year, you can get a nice one with software for about $500 each. I got one just like that on my desk. That’s $15,000. Some hotels let you use their internet for free.

So know we only have $125,000 left. We can buy a lot of educational stuff like books for $2000 a student. Now we only have $65,000 left.

I know, let’s get two teacher’s aids at $30,000 each. Now we’re left with only $5,000 for other stuff.

So we have a nice airy classroom that’s always clean. We have two teachers and two teacher aids. Every kid can go to the health club every day. Everyone has a laptop and new books. Must be funny math. I wonder what we could do with the $14,000 per student Washington D.C. spends.

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In a corporate setting, it’s rare to find someone who is good at curriculum design, writing training and presenting training in a classroom.  They are very different skill sets that take a long time to get really good at.  As a result, most organizations hire different individuals to fill these roles.  Traditionally teachers have done all these roles and I would suspect, some are better and some of these than others.  It also leads to making every classroom different.  And based on normal statistical distribution, some are excellent, some are mediocre and some are really bad.  Therefore, I think it only makes sense to reexamine what teachers do to see if the quality can be more consistent and that teachers focus their time on what they do best or that we find teachers to fill much more defined roles.

Since my degree was in teaching history, I’ll use it as an example.  However, what I purpose should work for anything.  First, there is a lot of history that is simply about telling the story.  While there is a lot of disagreement about interpreting the story, that basics of what happened are fairly standard.  So what’s the best way to tell the story about the War of 1812.  I think the worst way would be a lecture.  For one reason, once you’ve heard it, it’s gone.  And second, half the class is already nodding off.  While there may be great lectureres, the vast majority of history teachers probably don’t hit that standard. 

Last week I saw a history channel special on the War of 1812.  Because of the reenactments and the high production values, I really learned a lot that I had never heard before.  While these are expensive to produce, if the cost is divided among 150,000 classrooms each year, year after year, it’s probably not.  The idea of giving the same content in a high quality is attractive to me.  Maybe if you identified the best lecturer or the top 10 and they gave all the lectures via web conference that might work as well.

No the teachers role is to discuss how to intepret are to apply the lessons of the events.   However, every teacher doesn’t need to figure out how to do this.  This can be standardized using the best practices and creative input of the best of the best.  A teacher can focus on practicing and getting really good at being a discussion leader and coordinating the learning activities recommended.  If this is structured well, class should seem more similar than different.  I shouldn’t make that much difference which school you were in.

I know your saying, but what about the differences in students.  While some students do need more help that others, they all need to learn the same things.  I think it’s important to not affect those who are doing just fine by those who aren’t.  Other teachers could specialize in helping those who need more.  Some may simply need to repeat things two or three times.  Trying to do everything for everyone in each classroom is a losing proposition. 

Finally, let’s talk testing.  For history at least, I’m in favor of eliminating all multiple choice, fill in the blanks, matching and true/false tests.  While  they are easy to score and compare, they really don’t test deep understanding and the ability to apply what’s learned.  Tests should all be writing and speaking on a topic.  In fact, I don’t like to do these as a surprise.  I think students can be told on day one what they will need to write and speak about so they can prepare along the way.

If these same type of testing is done year after year, students ability to write and speak about history will greatly improve and that’s really the point of teaching history.  This does put the pressure on other classwork to teach writing and speaking but I’d say that was a good thing.  Learning how to write well takes a lot of practice and it’s not just English classes.  Think about how many pages a student should write in K-12 to become a good writer.  If everyone wrote a page a day, that would be about 2,400 pages.  Maybe about 500 presentations.  I think that might do it.

Bottom line until we challenge the idea of teachers doing traditional things in traditional classrooms we will always have the good, the bad and the ugly of education.

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The model of a teacher in a classroom repeated 150,000 times is so highly variable that it’s virtually impossible to deliver consistent, high level education.  Imagine going to 150,000 factories that make something like beer.  You’d get some great beer, some mediocre beer and some terrible beer.  Sit in 10,000 1oth grade history classes.  Some would be great, some would be mediocre and some would be terrible.  With the current model of education, this will happen no matter what you do. 

Often teaching is geared toward teaching one student or one class.  That’s fine in a small world.  But the task is to educate millions at a time.  Ironically the strength of education in the past, buildings, teachers, school boards, etc. have become the immovable object to change.  So my prediction is that real change will come from outside the system.  It will come from the world of better, faster, cheaper where the innovators and entrepreners live.  Things like IPODS, Google, Facebook, etc. didn’t result from gradual improvement, they came about from completely changing the game.

When the model of teacher and classroom ends, real innovation will happen.

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A lot of the education models originated in a school setting. As a result, their application to a business setting is difficult at best. Education models assume classrooms with a teacher and focus a lot on the individual. In a business setting, there are often no classrooms and often no teachers. The focus is on training large numbers quickly and getting results just as fast. That’s why new models are needed that don’t come from the school education community.

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If getting employees up-to-speed faster is a big deal for your organization, I suggest you consider bringing Learning Paths into your organization.  This is a methodology that is easily applied to any job including managers and leaders. There are several different ways to begin working on Learning Paths:

1. Learning Path Consultant

We can lead one or more Learning Path projects and assist with the development of activity descriptions and any additional training required.   Typically a Learning Path project for a single function can be complete in 60 to 90 days.  The Learning Path consultant will work with an internal Learning Path team in order to gather the required expertise and build support and consensus.

2. Certification

We are know offering Learning Path Certification in a 2-day workshop.  These are done both internally and as public workshops.  The workshops prepare participants to lead a Learning Path project in their organizations.  Additional follow-up and coaching is offered to help ensure successful Learning Path projects.

For those who need more information to make a decision on how to bring Learning Paths to their organization, we are always available to do a 1 hour Learning Paths webinar that presents the basic concepts and the path forward.  There are also a number of whitepapers on the Learning Paths website.  Here is the contact information you will need.  Steve Rosenbaum, 952-368-9329 or steve.learningpathsinternational.com.  Our website is www.learningpathsinternational.com

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A lot of sales training is built around a sales process.  Here’s a quick test to see how effective your sales process is.  Ask the salespeople in your organization to list the steps in their sales process.  If they can’t fluently answer this question, it’s likely they aren’t following the process.  This is an indication that work needs to be done.

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Here’s the issue a lot of people face when using a review committee. (It can be an instructional developers nightmare.) When they start to add or make changes to a word document, if you cut and paste them into your master document it can change all the styles and formatting. Here’s the solution. Word 2003 and later all have a protect document feature. It’s a little different in each version of word. But what happens is that it blocks the ability to create formatting. If some clever person figures a work around, when you import their document into yours it transforms their changes into normal style. This addresses the issue that happens when you copy and paste someone’s stuff into your document and all the numbers and bullets change

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Good facilitator guides are the corner stone for building great instructor led training. In this 45 minute webinar you will Learn how to build facilitator guides that are easy to use, easy to build and easy to maintain. In addition, you will learn how to create a template for your facilitator guides that will create consistency from program to program while cutting development time and cost. Register at: http://learningpathsinternational.com/trainer.html – Date: July 27th, Time: 12pm Central.

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Classroom training is still the predominant method for formal corporate training. Seminars and workshops are still very popular especially for smaller companies that aren’t ready or able to do a lot of elearning or web collaboration. I’d say that classroom training definitely has it’s strengths and limitations. To be an effective learning leader, I always recommend clearly articulating when and how to use classroom training. I’m going to start out with a few ideas or principles and maybe others will fill in the rest.

1. Interaction with Peers
I’ve seen literally thousands of comments written about workshops and seminars. The number one things that participants say they value is the interaction and networking with peers. Almost no one lists this as a primary objective but maybe it should be number 1.
2. Content Delivery
Retention levels are so low with lectures and expert delivery of information that it’s almost not work doing. I would guess that if you took an SAT today you wouldn’t remember most of it.

3. Feedback
Many things require that you get direct feedback from an expert in order to learn how to do something. Starting this feedback in the classroom is effective if it carries to the job.
4. Demonstrations
Some things you just have to see up close in order to really appreciate all the complexities. This is especially true if learning requires more than sight and sound.

Okay, that’s four…it’s your turn.

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Mike Tyson said, “Everyone’s got a plan until they get hit.” This is a very important concept for training and explains why a lot of training doesn’t stick or transfer to the job. Consider what happens to customer service training when an employee fresh out of training picks up the phone and gets an irate customer. Everything they learn tends to go out the window. They will tend to question their training and say it doesn’t work and go back to the old ways. Usually training isn’t intensive enough to really master a skill in all the critical situations. One or two role plays in a sales class isn’t enough to do more than just get a feel for how to use a new sales process. It may take 50 to 100 real calls with real customers. So I’d look at any training program and ask the question, “Is there enough real practice (getting hit in the face), to make training stick.

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