Protocols: Tools for Meaningful Adult Learning Experiences / by Tyler Wood

"Protocols can help bring teachers out of isolation" (Easton, 2009, p 2).

This is a pretty good example of what engagement means to me for adult learners. Many adults slowly slide into their caves throughout their lives. We get comfortable with the way things are going, for better or worse. Active engagement is when they come out of hiding, poke their heads around and are prepared for learning. Walking into their cave and pressing them on something is when the territorial instinct kicks in and you get push back. We, as facilitators, do not want to push against a wall, it will only thicken up in that instance. We want to draw them out and get them engaged. 

This is where a carrot, not a stick, is the answer. I do not mean we bribe learners into being interested, I mean we need to find something that interests them so they choose to come out on their own. Protocols can draw opinions and information out of someone when properly designed and implemented. It is not a trick, what we learn in andragogy plays in here. Adult learners want to learn something that will better their lives or earn them some credibility or recognition. If a protocol can trigger a response or emotion, then they will be more interested in coming out of the cave and being a part of the engagement. And we all know how the group dynamics can play in after that. If many people are getting involved, many more will feel piqued and get involved as well. 

I really like the idea of proposing something crazy from the start and getting them - 1) woken up and 2) considering an idea from a totally different world view or angle. For example, we propose a drastic change to the curriculum that will get people quickly interested because it effects their lives and they probably have an opinion on the matter. 


Protocol for Flipped Classroom Planning

1. The protocol has been adapted from a protocol called Jigsaw Threads (Dunlap, p. 103-104).

2. The purpose of this protocol is to organize a few of the issues teachers might face when flipping a class and solving the problems before implementation of the new method of instruction.

3. The teachers will use the multipurpose meeting room at Cheongwon Elementary School. The room will need to have five table groups with five chairs at each table group. Each table group will need paper and pencils. 

4. I will split my team of teachers into five groups of five teachers and have them sit at the tables. Each team will receive a prompt explaining a problem other schools have had implementing a flipped class pre-made by myself. The group will decide who will be the notetaker and they will write the notes for the group. The group will read through their problem and how the school solved the problem, if they did. Then, each group will discuss how we can solve this problem. Questions to consider for the groups:

            Will we have the same problem?
            Would the solution from the other school work at our school?
            What problems does our school have that are different?
            Can we solve this problem another way?


After having a discussion for 20-30 minutes, the group should have a solution they think works the best. One member from the group will be the “expert” on their problem and solution (not the notetaker). I will stop the discussion and have the ‘expert’ of each group stand up with the notes from their group and move to another group, taking the place of the ‘expert’ from that group. They will bring the problem with them. The new groups will pick a new notetaker and, with one of the there sheets of paper, take more notes on the new problem. This will be a 10-20 minute discussion. First, the ‘expert’ will run down the problem and solution they decided on. The ‘expert’ will lead the discussion taking new ideas and telling them ideas they had already considered in the last group. After the time has ended, they can decide to keep the same solution or add a new solution. The ‘experts’ move again to a new group and begin the process over again until the ‘experts’ are back in their original group. They will have a few minutes to go over the new ideas they have acquired on their trip around the room, then they will propose the final solution to the head teacher and administration that they have come up with as they talked to everyone. This process should take approximately 2 hours. 

5. The desired outcome of this protocol is to allow each teacher to participate in coming up with solutions to common problems schools face when implementing a flipped classroom (e.g. Students not watching the lecture at home). This will allow each teacher to offer their opinions on the possible problems and solutions the school will face and be a part of the process of implementation. Each teacher needs to be a part of the process and feel included. 

6. I think the biggest challenge will be engaging the teachers in the protocol at first. It will feel awkward or forced or even excessive. However, once the ball gets rolling then Newtonian physics takes over and the ball remains moving until something or someone stops it. it might make things difficult at first because I have little experience in this as well. If I have planned properly and prepared for that, I should be fine. 

Another issue is time. I have laid out a time limit, but this time might be too long or too short for the process to work effectively. In order to overcome that potential problem, I will have to be able to adapt for it. If the groups are slowing down and not engaged in the process after a certain amount of time, I will have to adjust the time at each stage to make it more effective time management. If the teachers are not into it, I do not want to drag it our longer than it needs to go. Anyone implementing any protocol probable has to be prepared to adjust mid-stream to balance the engagement of the teachers with the plan’s ultimate goal of finding solutions to these problems. 


Dunlap, J. (n.d.). Protocols for online discussions. Retrieved from

Easton, L.B. (2009 Feb/Mar). Protocols: a facilitator's best friend. Tools for Schools. Vol. 12 No. 3. Retrieved from

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