Adult learning, Chunk

Push less dirt, Lift more rocks

Two years ago, my family bought land north of the city. Laboring with hand tools quickly proved futile, so we acquired a tractor. The tractor’s job is to push dirt around to flatten the land for a future orchard. The challenge is that the dirt is filled with large rocks, glacial erratic boulders to be precise, so it is hard to push that dirt around. You come at a mound from the side, and it takes repeated back and forth shoving and dragging to make any headway. 

It would be a lot easier if we could grab the boulders from the above and pull them up and out of the dirt.

Lift up ideas to give people perspective

The image of putting the throttle to “rabbit mode” and ramming at mother earth with an iron claw came to mind as I was explaining instructional design. Rather than pushing through information from start to finish, it would be a lot more effective to come down from above and lift the meaningful parts up and into daylight. Give people the chance to see the whole picture from the start. That way they know what they might find as they dig deeper into what you have to offer.

What does this look like?

  1. When starting to plan a presentation or instructional design project, use a large scroll of paper to avoid the arbitrary hierarchy that can develop when writing a list on regular paper. Use the full lateral space to keep track of ideas and categorize them into buckets only after you have completed your research. See an example below.
  2. When presenting, consider language that explains the buckets up front. Here’s an example.
  3. Create graphics that show the buckets very clearly. See examples below.

Pushing dirt is really hard work. Covering vast information is taxing to the presenter and the person trying to make sense of it all. Here’s to working less and being more fruitful in the process.


Example of a collection of ideas related to starting a nonprofit
My information collector for the Starting a Nonprofit Toolkit. Here’s how it turned out: Guide and interactive tool.