Picture from Curriculum for Agricultural Science Education (CASE).

The visionaries in this graphic are proof that incredible learning can happen remotely!  Each of these men were natural born teachers, and had magic all their own.

This is the second of a four-part series exploring each TV show host-teacher, and how their methods can be applied to Workplace Learning.

LeVar Burton helped a generation become self-directed learners.  

Actor LeVar Burton (Roots, Star Trek the Next Generation) hosted Reading Rainbow on PBS from 1983 to 2009. This beloved show encouraged a love of reading through exploring a variety of topics related to a featured children’s book. Segments involved approaching the book from a number of directions, from interviewing characters, celebrity appearances, visiting the book’s setting or learning about the professions of key characters. Reading Rainbow earned over 200 broadcast awards, including a Peabody and 26 Emmy Awards. There are now interactive Reading Rainbow apps and video field trips for the i-pad and Kindle.

How can LeVar Burton and the Reading Rainbow’s methods be used in workplace learning?

LeVar taught “around” the subject, adding context, by introducing connected topics. Interdisciplinary Learning, combines learning objectives and methods from more than one discipline to focus on a central theme, issue, or problem. Interdisciplinary Learning promotes application of the knowledge gained in one discipline to another, and deepens the learning. It also allows for several points of entry to spark interest.

Even with LeVar’s acting skills, he didn’t read the book or dramatize it for the learner. The learners were encouraged to read the books themselves. The Instructional Design theory here is Self-Directed Learning (SDL). SDL can be misunderstood- it is not about working alone. SDL does involve the learner setting their own learning goals, and often measuring their own learning performance.  However, a key part of SDL includes sharing the learning process with peers and collaborating. LeVar would say, “But you don’t have to take my word for it…”  At this point, other children came on the show to make book recommendations.

Fostering Self-Directed Learning also leads to creating Lifelong Learners. According to the show’s creators, the goal of the show was not to teach the children to read, but to foster a lifelong love of reading.

Key Takeaways

To design like LeVar Burton and the Reading Rainbow:

  1. Encourage independent exploration of the content by providing ample resources and materials to your learners.
  2. Build in opportunities for peer collaboration such as discussion boards and Communities of Practices (CoP).
  3. Use an Interdisciplinary approach to teach many job functions around a single example.

To facilitate like LeVar Burton:

  1. Be animated and convincing –act and use role play!
  2. Be a “tour guide” for the learner, and take them places. Provide several points of entry to be interested in the subject.
  3. Invite guest speakers and encourage peer conversation.

Learn More:

Come back to read the next 2 posts that will focus on Bob Ross and Steve Irwin.

Contact Wecksell Learning Studio, where learning theories are mindfully applied to workplace learning for measurable results.

Comment to let us know: Facilitators, do you act?  Instructional designers – what are your thoughts on incorporating Interdisciplinary learning in the workplace?

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