If you’re not familiar with Learning Clubs, the concept can seem a bit nebulous.
In an attempt to rectify this, here are 3 examples that can help understanding and give a clearer picture about why they are so useful.
The Lunchtime Learning Club
Alan, Bob and Carol usually have lunch together in the company’s canteen.
However on Fridays, they focus on their small Learning Club.
Once settled down with their food laden trays, Alan starts by reminding everyone the point of the LC is to help focus and motivate each other to improve their current skills and acquire new ones. He reads out last week’s objectives from their WhatsApp chat.
He hands over to Bob. Bob’s chosen objective is to improve his assertiveness in his department. He goes over his experiences from the week which are rather disappointing. Nevertheles, Alan and Carol applaud his effort and give him useful feedback and suggestions for building on what he’s tried so far. He makes a list of 3 things he intends to try out for the next week.
Carol is next. She is doing an online course about computer science which she finds surprisingly interesting. She gives a 5 minute summary of the main ideas of what she’s covered so far. This is a challenge and she’s uncertain about a few of the points and can’t remember all the details. She’s prepared a short list of 5 Key Questions which Alan tests her on using kindness and humour. She’s pleased she gets all of them correct. She is warmly congratulated by colleagues.
Finally Alan talks about a book he’s reading about prioritising the more ‘worthwhile’ things to get more out of life. Bob and Carol ask him for clarification and an enthusiastic discussion ensues.
To end the session, each member identifies how the session has been useful to them and states their challenges for next week which they post on their WhatsApp chat group.
The After-hours Learning Club
At the end of the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month, 5 coworkers sit around the office meeting table for their bimonthly Learning Club.
Once everyone has their drink in front of them, Dani opens the meeting. The group felt that writing down their personal learning challenges was a more powerful way to commit themselves, so they got a notebook from which Dani now reads, repeating the pledges written down by each member at the end of previous session. She invites each person to give their update on how successful they have been in fulfilling it, asking them to rate themselves from 0 to 5. The results are generally good.
The session then turns to individual reports. Evan (whose goal is to write his first book and only gave himself a 2) confesses that he hasn’t achieved his challenge, which was to write 6,000 words, but has only achieved about half of that figure. He does point out that he wouldn’t have even managed that if it hadn’t been for the support of the group.
He still receives congratulations and encouragement for the other members and promises to keep up.
Fiona’s next. She’s struggling at home with her teenage kids and her goal is to learn how to improve her relationship with them. She’s happy to say her efforts at active listening worked well and she actually got a meaningful conversation out of her 15 year old daughter. She’s applauded by everyone and they have a brief discussion about how to build on her success.
Greg is third. He’s learning German. Nobody in the group speaks German but he proudly explains he’s succeed in following his personal learning strategy for the last 14 days: 30 minutes of reading every day, self testing his new vocabulary every evening for 10 minutes, watching an episode of his soap opera at weekends and a language exchange on Zoom once a week. He’s prepared some Key Questions which Evan tests him on. He gets 8 out of 10 and gets congratulated by the group.
Next is Henrik who is reading a book about Escape Rooms, how to solve them and how to create them. He gives an explanation of the key points on what he’s covered so far. He has brought along three examples which he’s printed for each member. He gets Dani and Evan to play against Fiona and Greg and turns it into a game. He finishes explaining what they did right but also how they could have worked together better.
Finally, Dani gives her progress report. She’s doing a course on genealogy and is researching her family history. She shares her exciting news about discovering that one of her ancestors was a survivor from the Titanic and explains how she found the information.
After 75 minutes, they give a quick feedback of the session and each write down their personal challenges for next time. Dani congratulates everyone on their successes and thanks them for their support.
The Monthly Learning Club
Janet works in HR and has secured her director’s blessing for anyone who’s interested to spend 2 hours at their official Monthly Learning Club which is held first thing on a Thursday morning. Today there are 10 people attending including 8 members, a guest speaker and one new guest, Petra.
After general greetings and chitchat, Janet starts by welcoming everyone and gives a short story about the importance of lifelong learning.
They then move on to personal evaluation. Each member takes a few minutes to briefly explain how their month has gone. What went well, what could have gone better and any important breakthroughs. Each member receives congratulations or sympathy from the others.
Guest Speaker: the guest speaker is Xavier from IT who has agreed to give a 20 minute presentation on smartphone security followed by 10 mins of Q&A.
Next is Member Spotlights
Three members have volunteered to present their learning achievements.
Katalina has the first turn. She is working on communication skills and has prepared a fun activity based on ‘ambiguous‘ messages. She takes questions and gets feedback from the group.
Ivan is next. He’s experiencing difficulties with his team and has a couple of complicated characters he needs to learn how to hand. He’s chosen for his slot to be an open discussion to get ideas and feedback. He chooses 2 ideas he thinks have potential.
The third slot is Liam who volunteered for a recycling initiative. But he feels his boss is disappointed with his work so far. He presents his current ideas and gets feedback. He realises he’s trying to hit perfection without going through the trial and error process. He decides to be more realistic, to accept imperfections and incorporate flexibility into his plan.
To end the session, each member talks about what were the most useful parts of the session and pledge their challenges for next month. These are noted down by the acting secretary for the meeting who sends a summary to everyone including members unable to attend.
The new attendee is invited to give an opinion and share what learning objectives she might have. She says she’s definitely interested and can see it helping with the work she’s doing at the moment organising fundraising.
Janet sets the date for the next meeting, thanks everyone for their support and then it off the face the day.
Although these 3 Clubs are different they share key characteristics:
- Overall objective
- Someone to chair the session
- Short term and long term goals for each member
- Peer motivation and support
- Positive attitude
Whatever your Learning Club, so long as you’re ticking all these boxes, you’re on the right track. And the more meetings you have, the more feedback you’ll get and the more you’ll learn about getting the most from your Learning Club.