3 Quick Tips on Facilitating Discovery Learning

Professional learning is more important than ever, thanks to the speed of change in the business environment. However, simple delivery and recall of facts and information is not enough. Rather, it’s how we and our employees use information to solve problems within our environment that matters. To encourage a more problem-solving approach to professional L&D, discovery learning might be worth looking into. Here are 3 quick tips on how to incorporate discovery-based elements in your learning design.

1. Steer away from the mundane multiple choice assessment

Most of traditional eLearning is the same. You start with a deck of material and end with a multiple choice quiz meant to test your learning. While a battery of multiple choice questions doesn’t actually even fill that purpose, and you should consider more formative assessment methods, organisations use them as they are the cheapest evaluation method. For learning purposes, a simple change to a discovery learning approach, e.g. open-ended questions can go a long way. Instead of spoon-feeding information and asking mundane questions just for the sake of asking them, use that time wisely. Open-ended questions activate thinking and self-reflection. Furthermore, solving something oneself leaves a more lasting memory trace than simply ‘choosing the right answer’.

You can also add some flavour into these types of questions by introducing social elements and turning the thing into a discussion. Social tools are also beneficial in bringing out those real-world experiences, which further facilitates cognitive processes and assigning meaning to the content. And don’t worry, as an evaluator, you don’t have to manually read everything either. Rather, some of the more advanced tools out there deploy semantic and keyword analysis to determine the “value” of the answers.

2. Discovery learning is moving from known to the unknown

We all are more comfortable with things we are familiar with. The same goes for learning. When designing learning experiences, you should aim to identify the already familiar concepts and ideas and start with them. From there on, you can then gradually introduce more advanced or difficult topics. Serving a baseline of information before inviting the learners solve problems and practice on their own helps to alleviate some of the pressure. However, it’s important that you always create and maintain a safe environment for the learners to discover, practice and make mistakes.

Technology can also assist in the process. For instance, you can use adaptive learning to offer the right content at the right time (whether in terms of difficulty, etc.). Recommendation engines and platforms using them can also prove handy in making more of the ‘unknown’ available.

3. Creating feedback systems is vital for discovery learning to work

Naturally, discovery learning relies on involvement, engagement and participation. As a method, it’s not nearly as “standardised” as some of the other methods, allowing for people to achieve the desired outcomes in their own personal way. For such a system to work, it’s vital that you create good feedback processes to support the learning experience.

Good methods of integrating continuous feedback can vary depending on the need. For instance, collaborative learning and peer-to-peer activities provide a feedback network without adding to the workload of the L&D team. You should also consider digital coaching and the possibilities it brings for 1-on-1 feedback. If coaching is too resource intensive, instructor-led facilitation might be a good alternative for providing the required support.

All in all, a discovery learning approach not only helps to create a lasting learning impact, but also prepares the learners for the future. In a world where critical thinking, problem solving and creativity are some of the most sought after skills, you’re hitting two birds with one stone! And if you think you need help in future proofing your learning strategy, we’re happy to help and discuss potential methods in more detail. Just contact us here.

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