"Nice house,", my mother said, walking into our new house for the first time. "But the kitchen door's in the wrong place".
She immediately took out a pencil and paper and started sketching out a better layout: "move the back deck door here in line with the front hallway, change the position of the stove, the sink goes here...."
She was right, of course -- my mom's always right. It is an older house built circa 1920, and it has its quirks. In this case, the back door was not aligned with the hallway, meaning that we've always had to walk through the eating and cooking area.
But in the end, it took us nearly seven years to save up the funds, find the time and hire the right people before we finally started this work recently.
Even as I write this post, the carpenters are downstairs now, peeling back the old linoleum, putting in a new subfloor, stripping down the drywall to the studs and outside wall. There's dust and insulation everywhere, and the clatter of this keyboard is interrupted with the wrrrr....rreeeeenn...buzzzzz...crack! of men at work (and no, not the 80s Australian band).
But once it's done, it will be great. Just like my mother said.
* * *
I've been working recently with some colleagues to update their workshop design. It's a great course, with excellent content, clear Achievement-Based Objectives, and many engaging learning tasks.
But having taught it many times, many of the faciltators feel like it needs some changes and updates.
So a few weeks ago, six of us formed a design team to undertake what one member called"some renovations". We don't need to tear it down and start over again, he explained. The design is structurally sound, but it would benefit from some remodelling here, an addition there, maybe punching out that learning task to lighten it up, maybe a lick of colour and new graphics there to freshen it up....
We've been working as a team in person and online for a few weeks and I'm glad to say that we're making great progress. But it is hard work. Once you take apart something as complex as a learning design, you find suprises and vestigial parts ("Why do the previous owner do this that way? What were they thinking when they chose that wallpaper!!"). Parts that worked well previously suddenly don't fit anymore, and you have to build an entire new task....
It has been a fun process and a chance to work with some great designers. I can't wait until the post-reno "reveal" episode!
* * *
I also enjoy doing these kinds of design reviews and renovations for my clients.
I start by going back to the blueprints and mapping out all the design parameters on one page. Then I check for congruence between the steps.
- Which design parameters are a given? Which can we change?
- What would happen if we cut this back to a 1-day workshop?
- Or could we do this online instead?
- Is this the right Content for these participants?
- Are the ABOs aligned with the desired Transfer and Impact objectives?
- Can this activity go beyond participation for its own sake to deepen the learning?
Next, I like to analyze it to see how the design stands up to the priniciples and practices of good adult learning, as articulated in a dialogue education approach. How does this design demonstrate Respect for the learner's life experience, expertise, emotions and opinions? How might we retrofit this to provide more opportunities for Praxis? Are the learning tasks following a particular learning cycle?
Then, it's time for the wrecking ball! Well, okay usually a crow bar and a hammer is sufficient to do the job. But it is often necessary to do a bit of tearing down to create space for the new design.
Much work ensues, much coffee is consumed, many post-its notes go up on the wall, restorative naps are taken, bikes are ridden, drafts are drafted.....
But when the dust settles.....voila! A brand-spanking-new interactive and rigorous, accountable and engaging design emerges.
Can I Help You Renovate?
Could your own training design or webinar could use a bit of fixing up? Is it time to tear down that wood panelling and rip up that shag carpeting? Would you like a bit more meaningful interaction in your design? Are you unhappy with what the learners remember and apply afterwards?
If so, drop me a line. I'd be happy to take a look at your design and provide a short example of what it could look like for free.
Then, if you like what I've done, I'll send you a quote for redesigning the rest.
But don't worry, unlike an electrician, I won't give you a shocking estimate!