Have learners work together to overcome obstacles to learning

Here are some starter ideas for getting people to think through ways of overcoming obstacles that might stand in the way of achieving organizational or personal effectiveness.

Ask people in small teams to come up with three or more obstacles that are currently hampering group or personal success (relative to achieving the goals of the program they're currently involved in). Then, using one of the themes below of Ghost Busting, Dragon Slaying, or Barrier Removal, have them brainstorm ideas for overcoming the obstacles that they identified.

Ghost Busting. Have learners write the obstacles identified on large Casper-type ghosts that are then placed on the wall. Learners in pairs or small teams are then assigned specific ghosts to bust. They must come up with an analysis of why the ghost exists and think through all the strategies that could be used for busting that particular ghost. They then present their findings to the group. If the group agrees that the strategies presented have a good chance of working, the ghost is removed from the wall and placed in a cardboard casket. If the group is not convinced that the strategies will work, the ghost remains on the wall to be dealt with later.

Download a clip-art image of a ghost to use with this activity!

Dragon Slaying. The obstacles identified are placed on large cardboard dragons. The dragons are then stood up on the floor as barriers in front of a poster, banner, or other peripheral representing the desired goals of the session. As in Ghost Busting, each pair or team is assigned a specific dragon to deal with, presenting their ideas for "slaying" it to the group. If the group agrees that the ideas will work, a member of the pair or team is given a toy bow with suction-cup arrows to shoot the dragon down.

Download a clip-art image of a dragon to use with this activity!

Barrier Removal. The obstacles are placed on large cutouts resembling stones which are then assembled on a classroom wall, perhaps covering a stated goal or need. It would be even more dramatic to place the identified barriers on large empty cardboard boxes, building them into an actual wall that blocks passage to a desired goal. Pairs or small teams of learners brainstorm on ideas for removing their assigned barrier from the wall. If the group agrees that the ideas will work, that particular block in removed from the wall.

In all cases where there are ghosts, dragons, or blocks remaining, the group might brainstorm ways of getting around or reducing the effects of the obstacles they represent.

This idea appears in the Accelerated Learning CourseBuilder, a comprehensive kit for designing effective training programs rapidly.