Get In the Zone!


Super Bowl LII is nearly upon us.  This can mean only one thing...I’m going to Costco this weekend for epic, game-day samples! But seriously, have you ever been to Costco on Super Bowl weekend? It is absolutely bonkers! So while the Eagles and Patriots dream of the end zone, I’m getting into my zone to take on the crowds, but first I want to talk to you about the most important zone of them all: The Zone of Proximal Development.

The Zone of Proximal Development, or ZPD, was first introduced by Lev Vygosky. He was, at the time, working on furthering Piaget’s work. Basically, the ZPD theory states that knowledge and development are not enough on their own. The best learning happens when an instructor teaches a student beginning with basic knowledge, then begins to help them develop by synthesizing that knowledge with experience and guided practice.  The spontaneous moment when the instructor metaphorically lets go of the student, and the student breaks free, beginning to assimilate the knowledge and experience for him/herself, that...THAT is the magic: The Zone of Proximal Development.

Another term for this type of teaching is scaffolding.  The learning that needs to take place is on a higher level than the leaner can achieve alone, but with the assistance of an instructor the new skill set is achievable. The theory uses the term “instructor”, but it is appropriate in any sort of guided learning scenario (such as a video game tutorial, for instance).

When constructing any type of learning content it’s very important to keep this idea in mind.  How will your instructor guide the learners through the material? How do they plan to build up the learner’s knowledge and then, at the perfect moment, let the learners fly on their own, assimilating new-found knowledge and skills to their toolbox?  

Some ideas to help get your learners in the zone could include: Collaboration, group work, assigning tasks that require the help of a more knowledgeable peer or instructor, or mentorship programs.  Keep in mind, these collaborations should always remain positive, with groups working for the success of all their peers.  Keeping the environment as supportive as possible will give learners the confidence and trust to get out there and try something new.

Level Up Your Learning is happy to jump on a call and discuss how best to get your learners in zone!