Whenever and wherever I have facilitated* or delivered a course, regardless of the topic, I make sure that it has been designed in a way that will not only engage the participants in terms of interest and desire, but also in terms of pragmatic hands-on learning and critical-thinking skills development.
There is no deeper learning than the one developed by doing something with an open and critical mind, and an eager heart.
The First Ingredient For Optimal Learning Course Design
The very first “ingredient” of a catalytic class designed for optimal learning is a syllabus.
A syllabus must not be designed to portrait the ego of an almighty know-it-all professor that is more intimidating than anything else. A syllabus for optimal learning has to be designed to not only entice the given audience but also to challenge it!
Most humans love challenges and, if the syllabus is well designed, after reading it, the intended audience should be hooked. But this is just in the very beginning. Once the audience is hooked, the syllabus should provide a clear path towards the desired objectives, while remaining proactively open and flexible to any possibility.
The Second Ingredient For Optimal Learning Course Design
The second ingredient for optimal learning course design is the venue or environment within which the course is to be delivered.
Although, based on the interest and desire of the participants, true learning can take place anywhere, it is always better to have an environment conducive to higher learning. This means, in addition to minimum infrastructure and technological requirements, the venue should also be isolated from distractions and disturbances of any kind.
The Third Ingredient For Optimal Learning Course Design
The third ingredient for optimal learning course design is critical-thinking.
The art of the facilitator is based on the ability to balance the given deliverables with the very many known and unknown needs of the participants. This alone is a daunting task and requires great critical-thinking skills, especially when the participants are not in the best mood. Critical thinking allows the facilitator to turn around any negative situation into a positive one for the benefit of the common good.
The Fourth Ingredient For Optimal Learning Course Design
The fourth and final ingredient for optimal learning course design is the attitude of the participants.
It may be the case that, independent from all the other ingredients, the participants feel “entitled” to something. This can be the greatest challenge for the facilitator to turn around. The key is based on transparency and trust. When the participants are able to evidence transparency, trust will emerge and the common good will prevail over individual/particular interests affording an even greater opportunity for learning to take place.
*I dislike the use of teaching, for it is not only an anachronism in an age of democratised knowledge, but also unidirectional, restrictive, and demeaning. Teaching may be appropriate when dealing with animals.
JC Wandemberg Ph.D.
President & Founder
About the author: Dr. Wandemberg is an international consultant and stocks trader, keynote speaker, published author, professor, and analyst of economic, environmental, social, managerial, marketing, and political issues. For the past 30 years Dr. Wandemberg has collaborated with corporations, communities, and organizations to integrate sustainability through self-transformation processes and Open Systems Design Principles, thus, catalyzing a Culture of Trust, Transparency, and Integrity.