Learning Is In The I’s Of The Beholder: 6 Ways The I’s Have It

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Infographic, Games and Thoughts for Engaging


One way to consider the teaching and learning process, in any form – from a meeting to education to a technical training –  is in the form of six key aspects to any form of teaching or learning:


  • For Teachers – those trying to impart concepts, skills, and ideas – these are things you should help facilitate or catalyse for learners, but not dictate or force – you are there to open the door for the student, not push them through it!


  • For Learners – those trying to understand concepts, skills, and ideas – these are things valuable to helping you learn properly.


They flow throughout Connections, Concepts, Concrete Practice, and Conclusions, the 4 C’s of Sharon Bowman’s highly recommended book, Training From The Back Of The Room, and can chart a path from inexperience through to subject evangelism and teaching.



Without initial interest, there is little personal incentive.

What stands out? What are the overall learning outcomes? What do you notice, that gives this relevance? What catalyses your desire for this subject?


Without finding inspiration, there is little drive to understand.

How are you motivated to be involved, to use this? How can you see it benefitting you? How can this improve your day to day life and usage? What makes you YEARN to use this practically?


Experience is the greatest Teacher.

How are you learning this? How can you engage yourself so you can understand and apply this? How can practice to discover and absorb the concepts, information and methodologies? How can you Learn by Doing?


Without immersion, you may lose what you have learned, and you will not learn further.

How can you make this new knowledge part of yourself? In what ways can you regularly suspend yourself and your role within it? How can you continue to learn after the initial class? How do you ensure you retain this new understanding?


The best return for learning comes from devotion, and capitalising on it.

Do you believe in what you have learned? How can you use this to further yourself and/or your role? How can it benefit your organisation? What is the real-world return you will get here, day to day? How will your learning continue to grow beyond the class?


We learn best by teaching others.

How can you Interest, Inspire and Involve others? How can you both pass on and retain ever-deeper knowledge of what you now know? How can you help others applicably understand and retain this? How can you continue to understand more and deepen your knowledge?


These I’s represent an instructional ecosystem that both teachers and learners are equally a part of. 


Exercises & Games


Learning is in the I’s of the Beholder!



Informal Exercises for Teachers


These can either be considered individually as a teacher, or used in informal exercises in the beginning of a class.


  • List basic aspects of the subject you want to teach randomly and ask learners to pick out what interests them, and why


  • Ask learners at the start what they would want to teach others about the subject, based on the basic concepts, and at the end ask them how they would now instruct others to inspire them in turn


  • Ask learners to think back to things they’ve learned in the past, which ones they’ve learned the fastest and most enduringly/completely, and why they think that is


  • Ask them to consider what the return on investment is for things they learn, and give examples of anything – ranging from driving a car to career enhancing management techniques. Ask them to expand this out to include more of an ecosystem, so how it would also benefit those around them and in turn benefit themselves even more


  • Ask for instances of where “use it or lose it” came true


  • Ask them what they think a teacher’s job is, and how they would teach the subject


These can be considered either individually, in small groups, or by the room at large.


Games to understand the Importance of I’s for Learners



Have a decent range of subjects on a board. Ask the class to, one by one, pick a subject of interest to them – a new one each time. Then ask them to explain why it is interesting to them and if they think they learn it better or not as a result.


An alternative is to ask them to pick two subjects from a range, one of interest and one of no interest, and to research for 5 minutes any information on both to tell to the class. When they present it, see how much more they do with the one interesting to them, then explain what they’ve done and why. Ask them to pick subjects they do not know much about.


This helps people connect with and find what is of interest, to them and others, and understand why we tend to only really invest when something interests us.



Have a random set of subjects, including some seen as traditionally average, and draw one each. Split into groups of 2 and work on understanding what the subject is. Google is allowed! Then try to interest either each other (or the group, depending on how it’s played) and inspire them to want to know more about it. See how many people say they are interested in learning more!


This helps people see what can drive you to learn more about something interesting, and how formerly average things can be presented as inspiring.



Create a game where, to reach the end, everyone must be involved as part of the journey. An easy way to do this is to base it on a choose-your-own-adventure book (I will consider providing some for use for groups of 4/8/12/16 people at a later date!). You follow the pages, and make a choice, then pass it to a random person (it cannot go back to someone who has already been) after your choice is made. At the end, a group decision must be made to choose the final ending. The stories can be in IT, services, industry, fantasy and so forth.


This forms connections within the group, and is a task that requires everyone to practically work in to complete.



Ask a student to tell a story about something that happened or could happen to someone else. This can be from a related set of subjects, be serious, be humorous, and so on. Afterwards ask them to describe what they see, feel, think about what they’ve described. Then ask them, or their partner if in 2s, to tell the story again as if it happened to them, or a similar story that did happen to them. Ask for the descriptions again, and get the listeners and the speaker to compare them to the previous story.


The power of immersion and experience, even simulated, is very powerful. Feelings – even simulated – are likely to be far stronger in the second story, as are the descriptions and the care for the subject.



Create two methods, one kind of fun and lightweight and the other more interesting and heavy. The latter will get you further, and possibly a reward? But it needs to show the power of being invested. Have groups of two do this, one lightweight and one heavy. Then they tell the methods to the class, making it clear what you get at the end, the leaning goals. Have the class say which method is the one the would want to use and why, including reward. OR look at something it is in their interests to be invested in – driving, for example.


This proves the further amount people will evangelise and utilise a subject they truly believe in, especially if there is a return for them.



In 2’s, ask learners to teach something about a subject from Interest to someone, then in return, then again, until both people have covered the exciting and less exciting subjects. See which one they are better at. Have them break down concepts and explain clearly, and see if they discover new perceptions themselves as they explain it.


This shows that the more you teach something, the more you yourself understand it and can granularise it to enable the understanding of others.



At the end of each of these games and exercises, it is wise to explore with explanation how and why it works, and ask learners how it applies to them.


Before the exercise or games are invoked, they should be made psychologically safe and relaxing to the point where they are discussable. I prefer smaller classes of a maximum (usually) of 8, so I can focus on mentoring rather than managing large groups, and so people feel better connected, more relaxed, and more able to speak to everyone.



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