Learning modules have the following format:
- Introduction — explains how the module fits into the program and the overall process of business and organization development
- Specific Materials for Review — references specific and materials for review and study; these are needed to respond to all suggested topics for discussion and reflection and to the learning activities required to build basic systems and practices
- Specific Topics and Questions for Reflection and Discussion — highlights key concepts to understand about the overall topic of the learning module
- Specific Activities to Build Systems and Practices — guides the learner to develop the basic systems and practices to successfully build and manage the organization
- Assessments — helps the learner measure and / or evaluate extent of application of that topic to the learner’s organization
- Tracking Open Action Items — guides the learner throughout the program to consistently record and track any incomplete action items remaining from the current and previous learning modules
- Reminders to Learners — poses miscellaneous reminders for learners to ensure they’re using information and skills from previous learning modules
- If the learner chooses to go through the program on their own (rather than, for example, as part of a group of learners sponsored by a local service provider), the program is entirely online.
You Can Also Take the Course With Others
You have a wonderful opportunity to suggest to your friends or colleagues to take the course as a group. Many of them would love to participate in a highly valuable, “MBA skills nuts and bolts” program! Doing the program as a group will be much easier than you think. You’ll read below about a straightforward approach called “peer-training groups” that you can use to design and carry out the group learning program after each member of your group complete the registration process. This approach requires little in expertise and no additional resources from you.
Primary Considerations in Setting Up Any Development Program
There are some fairly standard considerations in setting up and offering any management and organization development program. You’ll need to think about the following primary considerations. (Keep in mind that the peer-training process takes care of many of these standard considerations for you!)
- What do you want to accomplish overall with your group MBA program? Professional development? Organization development? Networking? Complement another training program? Other(s)?
- How will group members gain the necessary knowledge, skills and abilities to achieve the outcomes that are preferred from the program? Do readings? Have discussion? Other(s)?
- What type of learners will be in your group? New entrepreneurs? Experienced chief executives? Board members? Middle managers? Consultants? Volunteers? Other(s)?
- How will members be organized as they go through the program? In groups? On their own? As part of another program? Other(s)?
- Will your group members have consistent access to computers and the World Wide Web?
- How will you evaluate the quality of the process in your interaction? How will you identify what outcomes were achieved by the members? How will you show evidence of that learning?
- What expertise might you need to support such a group program? Subject-matter experts? Trainers? Evaluators?
- How will you advertise your program and recruit members? Advertisements? Newsletters? Classifieds in newspapers? Direct mail? Word of mouth? Other(s)?
- What materials and facilities do you need? Training materials? Classrooms? Parking spaces? Other(s)?
What costs are involved? Facilities? Advertising?
- What fee will you charge learners?
- Where will you get help if needed?
- What is involved in kicking off the program?
How Peer-Training Groups Make It Easy to Provide the Program
Adults learn best when they a) actually apply new information and materials, and b) exchange ongoing feedback with others around those experiences. Few traditional classroom conditions support these ideal conditions for learning. In most cases, an expert delivers the training and afterwards learners leave the room, seldom to see each other again. Too often, training materials sit on shelves collecting dust — learners never really apply their new learning. This problem doesn’t happen in peer-training groups!
The process in peer-training does provide ideal conditions for learning. The peer-training process is based on the action learning process, which is used across the world for personal, professional and organizational development.
Before Peer-Training Begins, Sponsor Markets Program and Recruits Learners
Before the peer-training process begins, the program sponsor organize the members to go through the program. This involves some basic advertising and promoting about the program. How that marketing is carried out depends very much on the nature and needs of the sponsor and the locale in which the program is being offered.
How the Peer-Training Process Works
Once the group of learners has been organized, here’s generally how the peer-training process works. The following sequence repeats itself for each topic in a program.
- The sponsor provides interaction/discussion materials in regard to a certain topic.
- Members meet on a regular basis, for example, every one to two weeks in three-hour meetings. Meetings are usually about three hours long.
- Between meetings, learners read the materials in regard to the topic.
- Each meeting starts with some type of training activity, often just a one-hour, open discussion about the particular topic that the learners had just read about previous to coming to the meeting.
- Immediately after the one-hour discussion period, learners are organized into groups of 5-7 members each to do a two-hour peer-training circle (ideally, in separate spaces).
- In their groups, learners share any materials that they brought to share with other members in their group, for example, policies, plans, etc., that were developed from applying new information and materials learned during the program.
- In each group meeting, each learner gets a specific amount of time (a time slot of, e.g., 20 minutes) to get help from other members of the group. During their time slot, each learner addresses five specific questions, including:
- How did I apply the new information and materials gleaned from the meeting of one to two weeks ago?
- What did I learn from applying that information and materials? (It’s highly suggested that the learner write down their perceptions of their new learning.)
- How do I plan to apply the new information and materials gleaned from today’s meeting?
- How can this group of peers help me apply the new information and materials before the next meeting in one to two weeks?
- Are there any information and materials that I’d like my peers to bring for me in the next meeting that we’ll have in one to two weeks?
- At the end of that meeting, each member evaluates the quality of that meeting and specifies what could have been done to make the meeting even better.
- Between meetings, members apply the new information and materials that were gleaned from the previous meeting.
Suggested Number of Meetings Per Learning Module
The program’s course modules vary in the amount of materials to review and activities to conduct (in order to have a comprehensive understanding). Therefore, it may be prudent to use more than one meeting to address certain modules (this is in the case where the program sponsor has chosen to organize members together in meetings, e.g., in peer-training groups).