Non-formal learning in action: Information Sessions

As discussed in my last blog entry, learner intention – specifically deliberative learning (where the worker schedules time to learn) is a key definer of non-formal learning. As such, the development of an educationally sound theoretical framework, pedagogical approach and instructional design process (are essential in create a learning environment (both synchronous and asynchronous) conducive to the requirements of knowledge workers.

At the same time, the content model must make effective use of available technologies, with the express purpose of countering the effects of cognitive overload (learners had consistently remarked on an imbalance of text to other media types – occasionally too much, but also, interestingly, in some instances not enough text on-screen to elucidate the topic, with the presenter “talking to, or around” the content where textual reinforcement would have assisted the participants understand the concepts being discussed (see Table 1).

I have developed the Information Sessions according to well-established learner-centric instructional principles. Specifically, they use a Constructivist theoretical model and a fusion of the ARCS Model and a Systems Design approach to the instructional design of content. A modality of Gagné’s Assumption is used as the basis for the Information Session structure, and the actual presentation format adheres to Gagné’s Events of Instruction (1-5, 7). Content is developed according Rapid eLearning principles. Information Session presenters are guided by the production team through the content creation process.

Table Information Sessions High-level Typology

Function

Approach

Theoretical Framework

Social-Constructivist Model

High level ISD Process

ADDIE & RIO/RLO Model

Strategy

Based on Blooms Taxonomy of Educational Objectives

Structure

Based on Gagné’s Conditions of Learning

Content

Uses a multimedia mix of text, slides, images, animation, Flash and video demonstrations

Delivery

The events are hosted as live Subject Matter Expert (SME)-led events, presented in the following format

Synchronous

Asynchronous

Live audience at Information Session location

On-demand post live event

Synchronously streamed on the web

DVD-ROMs available to KWs. Each DVD-ROM contains one series of 10±2 Information Sessions

An important aspect of Information Sessions is the simultaneous use of face-to-face presentation with synchronous Web delivery, as well as post-event asynchronous distribution of content via the Web and on DVD-ROM, ensuring the widest-possible distribution of content and ensuring just-in-time access to knowledge and domain expertise across an organisation.