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A day is a long time for learners

I know this blog is primarily about learning technologies, but you’d be amazed (or would you?) how often I get called upon to run face-to-face workshops on this subject, whether public courses or on an in-company basis. I must admit I quite enjoy these events and I try my best to justify the fact that we’re all together a s group, live and face-to-face.

You definitely would not be surprised to hear that these events are usually measured in whole days, each of which is usually something approximate to normal working hours, say 9 to 5. Now I’m not sure whether these hours are suitable for our everyday work, but that’s a convention I’m not going to change. But I would like to challenge whether working hours should be used as the basis for calculating learning hours.

Here are my reasons why classroom courses should have shorter days:

  • Regardless of whether you’re delivering instructional sessions or genuine workshops, everyone is worn out by mid-afternoon. The only time I’ve seen learners with lots of energy all day is when they’re engaged in an activity that involves ‘making stuff’. 
  • Too much synchronous dialogue and not enough asynchronous reflection time is unbalanced and unproductive – it’s like being at an 8-hour party (OK, perhaps when I was 20, but not now).
  • The days when a classroom event was genuinely off-job and learners were protected from interruptions is gone for good. Now they (and I of course) bring their work with them in their pocket. Every single learner will expect to spend at least one or two hours handling emails after the class has ended. Don’t make them do that in the evening – finish early enough that they can still get a proper break.

While we’re at it, the idea that everyone should be sitting around a table all day is equally unproductive. Why shouldn’t people wander around as they please? Why not have couches they can stretch out on? Why not hold discussions in the gardens or while taking a walk? Time for a change I think.
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