Delivering Content vs Delivering Learning. Are we even aware?

Over the weekend, I had the privilege, once again, to assess our 11th batch of Certified Virtual Learning Facilitator (CVLF) program. I have always enjoyed even looking forward to such events because of the richness in learning that I can obtain from being there. How wonderful to spend 2 days experiencing various design aspects about various topics from the various trainer. Community support and camaraderie are also experiences that I value.

As in any session of its kind, there will always be a highlight takeaway and this weekend is no exception. The insight that came up was concerning the conundrum of delivering content and delivering learning. Let me put some context to this insight.

We have numerous Train-The-Trainer (TTT) programs in our stable such as the Certified Facilitative Trainer (CFT) program, Certified Accelerated Learning Facilitator (CALF) program and Game-Based Learning Practitioner Certification (GBL). Contextually, CVLF embodies our TTT philosophy. Within this philosophy, there are numerous concepts that we adopt. One of the concepts that all our TTT like programs have in common is the concept that in any L&D initiative, especially workshops and training, there are three domains that are dynamically interacting with one another. These three domains are Delivery, Design & Engagement (DDE). All these three domains need to support each other in order for learning to happen effectively.

Among the three domains, we have always believed that design is the glue that binds the others. We have always advocated this point of view such that all our TTT like programs has a huge design element in the content. It is our belief that through a well-thought design, the delivery and engagement will be synced to produce the best learning. Here is where we differ slightly with the notion of a trainer being a subject matter expert (SME). To us, it is not enough for a trainer to be a subject matter expert. The trainer must also be a learning designer.

On this note, there is a clear danger of delivering the content and not delivering the learning. What do I mean by this? Some of you might be saying to yourself “What is Juara smoking? Is he confused? Isn’t the two the same?”. Well, I am not a smoker, I am not confused and the two are not the same.

Delivering the content means curating what topics or subjects will be delivered and how to deliver them. Delivering learning goes beyond just curating the content and the delivery of the content but also curating the method of learning the content for the learner. Sometimes, we don’t need to deliver the content and the learning still happens, deeply. This happens when we are focused on delivering learning and not content.

When we are focused on delivering content, we are on a tight schedule to complete the content at hand. We compromise checking in on how the learners are doing, don’t entertain redesigning the content or flow to cater for those that are lagging, don’t include opportunities for reflective practices and we even disregard community learning and opportunities to retrieve tacit knowledge. We also don’t spend time allowing the learning to stew or even remotely interested in the learner’s point of view, thought and feelings. All these elements are critical to learning.

However, if we are truly interested in learning to happen, we will operate differently; we will design differently, we will curate differently and we will deliver differently. We start looking at our learners and how they are doing before, during and after the session with us. We start by understanding where they come from, and what makes them want to learn or not want to learn. We focus on their progress over the period of the workshop and constantly check on their learning well-being throughout the workshop. We will build in pauses and check in to gauge our learner’s learning. We will create opportunities for all voices to be heard. These are but some learning strategies that can be deployed if we are interested in delivering learning.

Another phrase that is associated with delivering learning is learner-centric while the phrase is associated with delivering content as trainer centric. For both, it is more of a mindset that determines our focus and the actions we take.

As we prepare ourselves for any training or workshop, it is worth being conscious of which mindset are we embodying; as a deliverer of content or a deliverer of learning?