Dialogue Education Essentials:  Well-Researched Content (WHAT)

This is the fifth post in a series called Blogging Towards Baltimore. Why Baltimore? Because that’s where we’ll be learning together at the International Dialogue Education Institute, Oct 24-27, 2013.

One of the best ways to show respect of a group of learners is to put them to work on learning a tough set of relevant, immediately useful, complex, intricate and dense content (or, in Dialogue Education’s 8 Steps of Design, what we like to call the WHAT). Such content is cutting edge, the latest version of research in the field, a synthesis of the tradition and the latest new insights – no matter if you are teaching six-figure salaried managers how to deal with economic downturns, or high school juniors the intricacies of selecting and applying successfully to a college or university, or white-haired seniors the vital nutritional knowledge and skills that can add to the quality of their lives.

You respect me when you bring it on! Put me to work learning what I know I need to know – knowledge, attitudes and skills – and I promise you I will not resist nor will I falter in completing a tough learning task. You honor me by your evident hard work in researching the latest science can offer me; I want cutting-edge content as an adult learner.

Our work in design, using the 8 Steps of Design, is demanding. The most demanding step, I have always found, is selecting the most appropriate content (WHAT) for the learners (WHO) in their current situation (WHY), noting the time available for the learning (WHEN) and the place and space in which the learning will take place (WHERE). I feel deeply that well-researched content – the WHAT – is indeed a Dialogue Education Essential.

Dialogue Education is based on empirical evidence, on the hard research done in the fields of epistemology, psychology, biology, anthropology, theology, sociology. That means our daily bread is earned as much by research and study as by designing, teaching and evaluating. Dialogue Education must be an open system, ready to change when new knowledge invites such change. Our life as educators is an ongoing research agenda, building a developing resource for educators that will not look the same in the year 2113, or even in 2023!


And, to help you out with this challenge, my colleague Darlene Goetzman has written a terrific chapter about how to select the “best” content for your learning event in her helpful coaching guide, Dialogue Education Step by Step: A Guide for Designing Exceptional Learning Events.

Join Jane Vella October 24-27, 2013 at the International Dialogue Education Institute for her plenary session, The Biology of Learning.