Picture this 2-part quandary:
- Delivering content to a diverse group of students (new v. experienced) material that is not over the heads of the new folks AND not too simple for the experienced folks.
- Delivering content to a folks that come from completely diverse fields. Such as: fire, law and EMS sitting next to an accountant who volunteers on the weekend for example.
There’s a very popular FEMA course that I helped write and deliver that falls squarely into this category.
Whenever I deliver it (for another agency) I sometimes need to diffuse the stress that some students have initially for thinking they’re in the wrong place.
I’ve since discovered that there are many topics that we address through our careers that need to resonate with:
- People with a HIGH level of experience AND people with a LOW level of experience.
- People with a FULL time career in the topic we’re teaching AND people with only a part time hobby in the topic we’re teaching.
All in the same course at the same time.
The delivery method for course like that is a “Content Sandwich”.
- The Content Sandwich is like Dagwood trying to eat a hoagie that is not too long (wide range of vocations) and not too tall (appropriate level of instruction to maintain engagement between diverse experience levels).
- This challenge is compounded when the material is ‘canned’ and we’re not allowed to modify it.
- Sitting or teaming up diverse experience levels with each other is painful for everyone initially but can create an excellent crock pot of improvement eventually.
- Adding an explanation will help minimize this initial discomfort.
- Acknowledging this Content Sandwich and then asking for help from the students to be engaged enough to speak up if something is too high or low for them – and rewarding that admission without making them feel inferior – can go help this knowledge gap AND help the ‘teaming’ process.
- Empowering these teams to help each other fill the gaps in understanding also builds engagement and trust among these new peers.
It’s all a slippery slope but doable! And it starts with being mindful on the condition we’re walking into.
So how do you eat a Content Sandwich? One bite at a time …