Learning spelled out in kids color blocks.

Kids Say The Darndest Things

One of my favorite things to do when I get home from work is sit on the couch and watch my kids interact with each other. I am always amazed by the ways in which they come up with to express themselves. Especially when it comes time to do homework. It surprises me how they complain about it with all the wailing and gnashing of teeth. A homework paper that should take about five minutes turns into an hour production of “why do I have to do this” and blankly staring at the paper hoping the homework fairy will pay them a visit and magically their homework will be done.

This lead me to think about how many times I have heard people complain about having to do training. Why is it that when forced to do something people still act just like my kids?  As I ponder this conundrum which has plagued educators for centuries, I thought I would share several tricks that help me get my kids to do their homework. Who knows, they might work for you or your learners as well!

Make it Fun

The first trick I borrow from Mary Poppins. “To every job that must be done there is an element of fun. You find the fun and Snap! The job’s a game.” Gamification is by no means a new approach to learning. The key is in the execution. I think we all have fallen victim to the cheesy training masquerading as a game. How many of us remember doing a match game of definitions and terms?  The trick is to find the right balance of meeting the learning objectives and presenting them in a fun manner.

Apply a purpose

Another trick is showing how learning this will directly impact them and the real-world application. For my kids, it’s usually in how math will benefit them later in life. If we forget to correlate the material with the learners everyday activities, and how learning and applying the principles will benefit them, we fail to meet the purpose of the training. Remember to apply what is being conveyed in a way that showcases how it will benefit the learner.

In a perfect world everyone would take every training opportunity and never complain about it or worse just click through the material or multi-task by checking their email. I hope these tricks help you or give you a springboard to other ideas.
What tricks do you use to help get your users to apply themselves and complete trainings? Leave your comments below.

Steve leads the Learning & Professional Development team, with over a decade of Instructional Design and professional development experience in higher education at Northern Arizona University.

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