Learning objectives or movement agendas

We all know that training without objectives is ineffective. The learners are left wondering "what are they supposed to be learning?", "what is this about?", and "how different is this to my current practices?". Typical learning objectives answer these questions and focus the attention of the trainees.

Movement agendas go beyond learning objectives in effectiveness. Instead of only stating "where we want to end up", they picture "where we are starting from". For example, this posting could be presented as a movement agenda like this diagram.

By acknowledging where the learners start from, they feel understood by the instructional design. They are more willing to be understanding as a result. If there is an adversarial context from the training getting framed as mandatory, corrective or punitive -- this acknowledgement of existing skills, professionalism and commitments -- de-escalates that context.

I compare ineffective instructional designs to a bogus airline with the best on-time record in the business. This carrier takeoffs on schedule and get to their destination ahead of time. The only trouble is, there are never any passengers on board to deplane at the destination. The aircraft consistently takes off without the passengers to save time and get to the destination ahead of schedule. It also saves fuel to be riding empty.

Getting the trainees on board from the start calls for "speaking their minds". Using empathy develops mutual respect, trust and commitment. When the instructional design sends a message of "peek-a-boo I see you", the learners respond in kind with "I see where this is taking me and what good it does for me". A movement agenda portrays that important step before the objective.

Movement agendas also picture the responsibility for follow-thru differently than learning objectives. The formal instruction only visits the destination and tours the possibility. The trainees have to get back there on their own later. They are responsible for how they take that initiative, learn from setbacks and debug their understanding. Their follow-thru qualifies as informal learning, self taught realizations and intrinsically motivated internalization. It's the kind of learning that runs high in retention and implementation.

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