“The 4Cs of Brain-Based Learning, Agile-Style” by Christine Brautigam

inspiredagilityAre you part of an Agile community of coaches and trainers? Do you want to improve your audience’s engagement, information retention, and overall learning outcomes, no matter what the topic or the duration of your presentation? Do you know what is hot these days among Agile aficionados?

001-2-300x225 (1)Christine Brautigam of Inspired Agility here, with a story to share …

During the summer of 2015, I attended the Agile Alliance’s North American “Agile 2015” Conference in Washington D.C. Wow! What a large gathering it was, and how exciting!  I noticed that the most energized and engaged presentations seemed often to end with: “Thank you Sharon Bowman for ‘Training from the Back of the Room!'”

I observed an additional “buzz” around “gamification” – when games are used to communicate concepts. Apparently, traditional (non-Agile conference) presenters blasting information out of their mouths like firehoses is not the easiest way for their audiences to learn. Since we humans are amazing creatures, we still have managed to learn in spite of what has become the mainstream habitual method of content-delivery (aka: the lecture). But, at Agile 2015, it looked like there were far better ways of teaching out there …

Based on what I experienced at Agile 2015, and hungry for the most fluid and leading edge ideas and skills, I sought out Sharon Bowman’s train-the-trainer courses and became a Certified Trainer for “Training from the Back of the Room!” (TBR). The TBR class is based on Accelerated Learning techniques and the most current cognitive neuroscience research, referred to as “Brain-Based Learning.” This rich content can be applied to any topic that you want to convey and the course teaches you to design and facilitate learning ranging from 10 minutes to, well, any duration!

So, why is it that the Agile community is the one to so fully embrace it?

I am continually impressed by how those interested in Agile are often those who are ready and willing to experiment towards better, more fluid, and more sustainable mindsets and approaches. This important shift may also be witnessed in worldwide movements, such as happymelly.com,  responsive.org, and tealforteal.com, to name only a few.

So, “Training from the Back of the Room!” is both a book and a course, with some of its content summarized in the “4Cs Design Checklist” card that I created to use in my own TBR classes. You can download this “at-a-glance” checklist on my website at Inspired Agility (scroll down my homepage to receive the free checklist). This is your “cheat sheet” for applying a few of the concepts from Sharon’s many books and the 2-day TBR class. These concepts were used by many of Agile 2015’s excellent presenters, who gave what I thought were the most energizing and engaging sessions of any conference I’ve ever attended.

4CsDesignCardFrontOn the 4Cs Design Checklist card, the top six colorful rectangles are “The Six Trumps” and the bottom six are “Pathways to Memory.”

The 4Cs are:
C1 – Connections
“We learn best when we connect to others in a psychologically safe environment AND when we connect new concepts to what we already know.”

For C1, the question to ask is: “What does the learner already know about it (the topic)?”

C2 – Concepts
“The teaching of new concepts may be communicated through metaphors, games, reading, writing, speaking, images, and does not always have to come through an authority figure’s voice while pointing to a slide.”

For C2, the question to ask is: “What does the learner need to know about it?”

4CsDesignCardBackC3 – Concrete Practice
“We understand best when the new concept is reinforced by the opportunity to ‘do it’ and ‘teach it.’”

For C3, the question to ask is: “Can the learner do it or teach it to someone else?”

C4 – Conclusions
“Celebration and connection of the new concept/skill to our regular life, reinforces the learning and makes it relevant and important.”

For C4, the question to ask is: “How does the learner plan to use it?”

You can use the 4Cs any time you design a presentation or learning session, even for a conference presentation or keynote speech. The “4Cs Design Checklist” is basically a quality-review checklist that is useful anytime you want to design/deliver new information in a way that is brain-compatible and learner-centered rather than presenter-centered.

Warning: this type of engagement requires more work for both the “instructor” and the “learner.” If you would rather just show up and talk to your audience, or simply sit and listen with minimal retention, this material is not for you! If you are willing to put in the effort to truly convey new concepts in a brain-based way, and to create an engaged creative learning environment, check out Sharon’s books and tools on her website for self-directed learning. Or you can decide to attend “Training from the BACK of the Room!” to truly experience the content in action!

By the way, this two day course is an excellent, informative, and fruitful team-building experience for groups of trainers working for the same organization. You can enhance your personal and organizational skill set as you connect and reinforce your relationships with each other. It is great fun and I love teaching it – well actually facilitating it, as you really learn more from each other during this collaborative and engaging experience!

Inspired Agility and Pyxis have scheduled several public “Training from the BACK of the Room!” courses this fall in North America. There is even a TBR course right before the Scrum.Org Face-to-Face Conference in Seattle, Washington, this November 2016.

If you have any questions or comments, or want to share your “Agile 2015” or “Agile 2016” experiences, please email me at [email protected] or contact me by clicking HERE.  And, for future blog posts on my website, click HERE.


Final Note from Sharon: Many thanks to you, Christine, as always, for your excellent contributions to my blog! 🙂

Thank you for reading!