Many years ago, I received funding to train teachers about world events over five workshops. This meant, of course, that we were covering large geographical spaces in two hours. How could I get this talented professor of African studies to teach teachers something that they could in turn bring into their classrooms? The trick proved to be one question: “If I only knew five things about Africa, what would I need to know?”
It turns out that this question has proven handy in many other settings as I have created learning programs with these same conditions: vast content and limited attention and time. The discipline and hyper-sense of prioritization drive curriculum that is relevant and engaging. We do the hard work of figuring out what our students should know so that they can focus on bringing it into the life of their organization.
I offer Chunk, Flip, Guide, Laugh as one structure for thinking about instructional design. It comes from my founding of three learning programs and work with several others. It is based on research and observation on what works in other arenas. It also draws on all I have learned from generous teachers and collaborators along the way. It resonates with my own experience as a learner: tell me what I need to know, give me the tools I need to move forward, and let me have fun along the way.
This website began as a way to share one model for turning information into action. It has since grown into a space to think about adult learning in the nonprofit (voluntary) sector. Professional development works differently when those learning are there voluntarily, no certificates are required, and money is in short supply.
If you are interested in this work, you can see examples of this model in the resources produced by Washington Nonprofits, where I serve as Associate Director. We created so many toolkits that we needed to create a separate learning website, the Washington Nonprofit Institute. Many of my examples come from my work with nonprofit staff and volunteers.
Welcome to the conversation!