Recently I wrote about “How to make your workshops not suck in three easy steps” including the strategic use of icebreakers, energizers and F.G.L.A.’s (facilitated group learning activities). Today I’m going to share the connection between F.G.L.A’s and group groans and how to ensure you get you some powerful learning for your and your participants.
Whether you’re new to giving workshops or a polished pro, I’d bet my ABBA dance playlist that you’ve been part of a least one group groan.
What’s a group groan? A group groan is a F.G.L.A. gone wrong. A group groan is a learning activity that:
- Hasn’t been well facilitated
- Falls flat and
- There’s no learning (or at least no connection to the learning you, as the trainer, have in mind.
Can you relate? Maybe you were asked to close your eyes and bark like a dog, listening for other ‘barkers.’ I know, cringe worthy right?! Worst example ever of a so-called learning activity. Group groans are group activities like that one, that make you want to groan, and grumble out loud because they’re silly, embarrassing, don’t make sense or aren’t inclusive.
In order for a F.G.L.A. to truly be a F.G.L.A. and not devolve into a group groan it needs the experiential learning cycle touch.
Before I show you the magic of the experiential learning cycle, let me show you why it’s so darn important (and why it makes you look like the rock star trainer you are or can be). You remember powerful learning from my first post right?
Powerful learning is powerful because it’s experiential, non-lecture based and it helps you move your learners through the following:
- Attention; powerful learning gets people’s attention
- Engage; powerful learning engages people
- Learn; powerful learning is about learning
- Retain; powerful learning helps people retain what they’ve learned
- Apply; powerful learning helps the learning leaves the room with the learner
- Change; powerful learning effects social change
Back to the E.L.C. – the experiential learning cycle. It technically has some fancy schmancy terms but I’ve always found it best to keep things simple.
There are four steps to the E.L.C.
I’ll explain them and then give you some example debriefing questions so you can use it the next time you want to avoid group groans and supercharge your powerful learning.
- The what; this is the learning activity itself, the experiential activity you’re leading your workshop participants through. And if you thought hey, this sounds like a F.G.L.A. you’d be bang on. Kudos.
- What’s up for individuals; immediately after the activity, you start debriefing by asking the group things like ‘what happened for you?’, ‘what were you thinking or feeling?’
- What’s up for the group; this is where you as the trainer, help the group see themes or patterns in their experience. You can also add a short teach piece here (e.g. add more info but not to be confused with a long lecture).
- What now; now you move the group to application, getting them to think about how they’ll use their learning. It’s where the leaving leaves the room with the participants after the workshop is over. You can ask questions such as ‘how can you use this at work/home tomorrow?’, ‘what do you need to do to apply what your learned?’
The experiential learning cycle (E.L.C.) puts the experience in the experiential learning. It gets you on the powerful learning onramp and speeds you down the causeway to effecting the social change you’re seeking.
Have fun and feel the breeze in your hair as you zoom along.