Training MagazineTraining Magazine is a professional development magazine that promotes training as a workforce tool. The magazine provides content for the Training Magazine Network website, where you can find an ongoing series of webinars on various topics. By simply joining the Training Magazine Network website, you can register to attend future events and access the archives of past events. From there you can download handouts and watch recorded learning events.
Yesterday I attended Aha! Some Object Lessons. The idea of object lessons is not new, but in this current electronic age, it may be easier to forget about using objects from the world around us to help participants better remember what we’re trying to teach.
About the presenterBecky Pike Pluth has been working as a training professional for over 15 years. She has written two books, Webinars with WOW Factor and 100 Movie Clips That Teach and Train, and is currently the President and CEO of the Bob Pike Group, which incorporates a participant-centered approach focuses on the needs of learners.
What is an object lesson?An object lesson is something that serves as a practical example of a principle or an abstract idea, a lesson taught by using a material object. In infants, senses of sight and hearing are the first to develop. When learning can be associated with already-familiar objects, there is a greater likelihood that the training will be remembered and applied.
Some of the benefits of using object lessons we discussed include memorability, engaging, visual, emotion pull, and effect of curiosity. Using objects also has some drawbacks, including having extra physical items to carry, the possibility that the lesson may be lost, and objects, if not effectively managed, could serve as distractions.
When possible, the strongest associations with learning occur when real objects are able to be engaged by all the senses. I once attended a seminar by Ed Tufte on the effective presentation of data. One of the exhibits he displayed was a 400-year old copy of Galileo’s book. While he wasn’t using it as an object lesson, being able to view the physical book locked this experience into my long-term memory.
If you are training in a virtual environment you can still utilize objects. Photos of objects work well. Our presenter on this webinar suggested that over-sized objects and images of objects are particularly effective.
Our webinar started with the presenter playing a card game. She displayed a card so that only we could see it, and then proceeded to ask us several questions about the card. Of course, she knew the identity of the card (facilitators must remain control), so if we participants did not answer correctly, she would still be able to redirect us.
Three steps to designing an object lessonFollow these three steps to help find appropriate object lessons.
- Determine content with a moral, value, or story.
- Take any common household object and tell how it is used. Does it relate to any value or moral you want your participants to learn? If so, it will work.
- Determine the logistics of your object lesson: materials, duration, what you will say, and what you will do.
Our presenter suggested to use a template during the planning process when using objects in learning. Create a template with the following columns:
- Do Ideas – how you will utilize the object
- Say Ideas – what you will say to set the stage and guide participants
- Other Ideas
Tips for using objects
- Utilize objects strategically. Object lessons will have the most impact if they are used sparingly in a training session.
- Throughout a training session, connect back to the object lesson.
- Ask reflective questions to help your participants form the connections and applications.
- Have the objects on hand, either one per table or one per participant. If possible, have one object for each attendee, as this maximizes engagement and ensures full participation.
- Allow participants to form their own conclusions about the connections between the object and its application to the learning objectives. Once you have heard some ideas from the audience, you can then share your thoughts and/or help them get back on track.
- Practice your object lesson with coworkers and family prior to introducing in a public forum.
- The object lesson should harmonize with other learning objectives.
- Bring excitement to the object lesson.