The more I work with new SMEs, the more I learn about myself. I take my time processing new information. I find that some SMEs want to share new information with me and want 10 new ideas from me immediately. My brain doesn't process that way. I hear you, and I understand you; but, I am processing. After I process all of this new information, I can provide great ideas.
I think we forget about the variability that exists among learners. We want to provide learners with new information in 10 minutes and have them produce innovative products or engage in mind blowing conversations 2 minutes later. Remember this?
Trainer: What are the implications of this law on recent imigrants?
Eager Trainee: (shoots hand up immediately)
Rest of class: (sits quietly)
The rest of the class may not be stumped but actually thinking. They may be deciding if what they will say will add value to the conversation. Or they may be wondering if they have the right answers? Or they may be thinking about whether or not the ideas they have come up with in their heads will be communicated effectively to the rest of the class.
The idea of wait time is excellent in face-to-face classes, and the implementation of think-pair-shares work great trainings, also. Wait time is exactly what it sounds like. Give learners several minutes to think about what they will say before they answer the question. I suggest instructing learners to write their answers down instead of thinking about them. It gives learners something to do, and you have a better idea of who is processing as opposed to who is day dreaming or waiting out the clock. Think-pair-shares does the same thing as wait time except it requires learners to talk with a neighbor about the idea before sharing out with the class.
Online these two concepts aren't very difficult to implement. Wait time is built into asynchronous conversation as long as responses to questions are required several days after it is posted. Be sure to remind learners to take the time to think before posting responses. Think-pair-share can be created by partnering up learners in chat rooms, discussion pods, or even encouraging to exchange contact information. This way learners can discuss ideas with someone before posting their responses to a whole class discussion board. It lessens the anxiety of being critiqued on an idea by an entire class that you never had an opportunity talk with someone about.
Try implementing Wait Time or Think Pair Share in your next training or online course. Come back and tell us about your experience.
We can help you implement these activities in your training.