Passport to Learning

If you are a foodie, then at some point you have heard of the Ann Arbor, Michigan based delicatessen known as Zingerman’s. I was fortunate to meet one of the owners a couple of times when I worked at a business incubator. He would come in and give talks to meetings filled with eager entrepreneurs who had visions of success, fame, glory, and eventual corporate buy-out.

Okay, my point…

The success of Zingerman’s relies on it’s strict training. Employees are trained for months before being allowed to work. They must know every type of exotic, stinky cheese, every variation of olive oil, every grain in the multi-grain bread. To train properly, they are given “passports”. And like a real passport, after learning a section and passing a test, they get a stamp on the page dedicated to that particular topic. There is more to the process than that, but you get the idea. In the far back of these passports are quick notes and cheat sheets as well as a brief guide about who to ask questions of. I think they also helped people track their days off to ensure accountability.

So, a few applications of this:

Ensure library employee training in the same way…provide concise passports to track new employee training.

For schools, use passports to train kids about different aspects of the library. My teacher friends say that rewarding them with a prize for a completed passport would not be good (contrary to today’s teaching methodology) but somehow make completion a big deal.

Or, somehow include the use of passports and info literacy into summer reading.

I see so many ways that this could be a fun and unique tool for tracking accomplishment and learning in a short form way!

To learn more about the Zingerman’s training process, visit their training website at http://zingtrain.com/home.php

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