Make Learning Fun for Adults by Using Creative Training Strategies

Make Learning fun for Adults by Using Creative Training Strategies

Make Learning Fun for Adults by Using Creative Training Strategies

If you make learning fun for adults that does not mean that your training sessions are ineffective. In fact, brain-based learning research indicates the usefulness of adding novelty. For example, you can use elements like learner engagement activities, color, music, sounds, and other active approaches. These can contribute to learning when you use them effectively. Just remember that anything that you say or use in a session should contribute to accomplishing your stated learning objective. Do not use an activity or training aid just because it is familiar to you or can provoke a laugh. Adult learners typically consider these a waste of time.

For years, adult learning environments were traditionally modeled after academic classrooms with rows of tables facing the front of the room. The teacher or professor was the center of attention. Because most trainers were exposed to such configurations, they often model their own adult learner classrooms in the same fashion. Thankfully, many trainers and adult educators have discovered creative training or accelerated learning techniques. These can help create environments where adult learners actually enjoy their training experience and learn more.

Following are easy to apply creative training ideas that can potentially enhance learning outcomes to help make learning fun. By adding a bit of novelty and competition, you can potentially motivate some learners.

Spin to win

Add excitement and build an atmosphere of fun through the use of large prize wheel spinners. Use these for review activities in which you list key concepts on the wheel spokes. Once a participant spins they have an opportunity to describe or explain the concept and win a small prize.  You can also use a spinner to list a variety of small prizes that participants who correctly answer questions or volunteer get to spin and win.

Cash in with play money

If you are doing cashier or financial related training, use realistic-looking play money to simulate actual currency and add a sense of reality. You can also use play money to reward participants who volunteer, correctly respond to your questions, and arrive in class or return from breaks on time. At the end of the session,  learners can use their money to buy small session-related items that you provide. These small mementos will often end up on a desk or bookshelf in an office or at home. When the participants see them, they are potentially reminded of the session and its content, thus reinforcing the learning.

These creative training ideas, along with many other ways to make learning fun and engage learners, are from Energize Your Training: Creative Techniques to Engage Learners.

The Roles of Trainers and Educators in Adult Learning

The Roles of Trainers and Educators in Adult Learning

The Roles of Trainers and Educators in Adult Learning

The roles of trainers and educators have evolved in the adult learning environment in recent years. Traditionally, each group has been the focal point of learner attention during a training session. Their function was that of a subject matter expert who shared information and guided information sharing in the classroom. In performing this role, they delivered information, guided activities, and were often the center of learner attention.

In today’s world of adult learners who are more informed and educated due to access on the World Wide Web, trainers and educators have assumed different roles and act as a conduit for the sharing of information. They are not always subject matter experts. Instead, they fulfill the roles of learning and performance consultants who are experts in the design and delivery of information.

Let’s look closer at the Roles of Trainers and Educators in Adult Learning

Some common roles of learning and performance professionals include:

Facilitator. In this role, the trainer and adult educator provide instructions for activities and guides information sharing, but are not the center of attention and do not actively control all aspects of the learning process.

Consultant. Provides guidance on training content, training program design, and the information delivery process is a subject matter expert and provides expert advice or opinions.

Coach. Educates learners about the learning process, guides and assists them during activities (when needed), observes and provides developmental feedback during practice sessions, and acts as a resource for learners.

Innovator. Brain-based learning research points to the importance of using a variety of learning strategies to assist in enhancing adult learning outcomes. As an innovator, trainers and educators continually look for ways to stimulate the brains of learners by adding environmental elements such as light, color, motion, learner engagement, movement, sound, and other common factors.

For additional ideas on active learning strategies used by trainers and adult educators and innovative ways for applying brain-based learning techniques, check out The Creative Training Idea Book: Inspired Tips and Techniques for Engaging and Effective Learning.

The Benefits of Engaging Adult Learners In An Accelerated Learning Environment

The Benefits of Engaging Adult Learners In An Accelerated Learning Environment

Accelerated learning (experiential learning) is based on adult learners being an active part of the learning environment.

Through learner, engagement facilitators help take them on a unique journey that incorporates all the cognitive, physical, and emotional aspects of learning outlined in a number of adult learning theories. This can be accomplished via the use of learning games and activities that allow participants to work through various issues, challenges, and problems during the session.

The Benefits of Engaging Adult Learners

In the process, learners identify potential options and gain new knowledge and insights that help them develop their own solutions to issues and situations to which they have been introduced. In effect, they become co-facilitators in their own learning and aid one another in recognizing solutions or developing strategies for applying what they learn once they leave the learning environment.

The Benefits of Engaging Adult Learners In An Accelerated Learning EnvironmentFor activities and games that can help engage your adult learners and allow them to not only enjoy their learning experience but also take ownership of learning outcomes and use what they experience, get a copy of Creative Learning: Activities and Games That Really Engage People.

Robert W. Lucas is an expert on Adult Learning

Listed in Who’s Who in the World, Who’s Who in America and Who’s Who in the South & Southeast, Bob Lucas is an internationally-known author and learning and performance expert who specializes in workplace performance-based training and consulting services. He has four decades of experience in customer service, human resources development, and management in a variety of organizational environments. Bob was the 1995 and 2011 President of the Central Florida Chapter of the Association for Talent Development (ATD). Bob has lived, traveled and worked in 28 different countries and geographic areas. During the past 40 years, Bob has shared his knowledge with workplace professionals from hundreds of organizations, such as, Webster University, AAA, Orange County Clerk of Courts, Walt Disney World, SeaWorld, Martin Marietta, all U.S. military branches, and Wachovia Bank. In addition, Bob has provided consulting and training services to numerous major organizations on a variety of workplace learning topics.To contact Bob visit his website at www.robertwlucas.com or his blog www.thecreativetrainer.com.

Three Simple Strategies That Enhance Adult Learning

Three Simple Strategies That Enhance Adult Learning

With the business world getting more competitive every day while organizations struggle to do more with less, workplace learning is a key that many successful companies have found to harness the potential of their employees and the environment. By providing timely and effective training and learning opportunities to employees, many organizations have seen a dramatic increase in productivity and a decrease in turnover.

Strategies That Enhance Adult Learning by The Creative Trainer – Robert W. Lucas

Here are three techniques that can help maximize learning outcomes when sponsoring learning events in your own organization or for clients:

Make learning meaningful.

Don’t waste time with hypothetical events and unrelated role plays. Tie all learning activities and content directly to the real-world workplace. Find real issues that learners can relate to and can use to solve real problems so that they can then transfer the applications to the workplace immediately.

Get learners actively involved.

There should be no passive observers in the classroom. It is crucial that trainers and facilitators learn effectively facilitate the exchange of ideas and knowledge. They are the conduit through which ideas pass between participants and they provide the structure for the learning that will occur.

Anyone in front of a group of learners should be aware of principles of adult learning, the basics of how the brain is structured and functions, different learning needs and modalities and how to discover them in their learners, and myriad other concepts related to learning. They should use this knowledge to stimulate and engage all learners.

Use small groups for activities.

Normally 5-8 participants are all that is needed to provide a forum for sound problem-solving and discussion. Any more than that can become cumbersome and result in several people becoming observers and one or two people dominating. Any less and there may not be the depth of knowledge needed for fruitful outcomes.

When using small groups in training, always have a specific outcome in mind and provide adequate guidance for the groups before beginning the activity. Additionally, make sure that you actively monitor the discussion within groups so that they stay on task and so that you are available for questions or to redirect them if they start getting off the designated subject.

For more ideas on effectively designing, developing and delivering training for adult learners, get copies of Training Workshop Essentials: Designing, Developing, and Delivering Learning Events That Get Results and The Creative Training Idea Book: Inspired Tips and Techniques for Engaging and Effective Learning.

Learn about this Blogger.

Robert W. Lucas is an internationally-known author and learning and performance expert. He specializes in workplace performance-based training and consulting services. Furthermore, he has four decades of experience in human resources development, management, and customer service in a variety of organizational environments. Robert Lucas was the 1995 and 2011 President of the Central Florida Chapter of the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD).

Robert W. Lucas has lived, traveled, and worked in 28 different countries and geographic areas. During the past 40 years, Bob has shared his knowledge with workplace professionals from hundreds of organizations, such as Webster University, AAA, Orange County Clerk of Courts, Walt Disney World, SeaWorld, Martin Marietta, all U.S. military branches, and Wachovia Bank. In addition, Bob has provided consulting and training services to numerous major organizations on a variety of workplace learning topics. To contact Bob visit his website at www.robertwlucas.com or his blog www.thecreativetrainer.com.

Three Tips for Maximizing Learning Outcomes

Three Tips for Maximizing Learning Outcomes

Involving adults in learning activities during training is a simple means of helping generate interest and helping them better gain, retain, recall, and use what they experience.

Here are three simple techniques that can help engage your adult learners during training sessions:

  • Gain learner buy-in by using closed-ended questions to verify and validate data periodically throughout the session.
  • Address all learning styles or modalities (e.g. visual, auditory, and kinesthetic) and gain maximum benefit by delivering content in a format that addresses each person’s preference.
  • Invite learners to volunteer throughout the learning event by offering small incentives (e.g. candy or small program themed toys) for their efforts. Through their efforts, learners may stay more alert and are more likely to focus on session content and activities.

For creative ideas on learner engagement, applying brain-based learning research to training and educational environments and making your professional development sessions more interactive, get copies of The Creative Training Idea Book: Inspired Tips and Techniques for Engaging and Effective Learning; Energize Your Training: Creative Techniques to Engage Learners; and Creative Learning: Activities and Games That Really Engage People.

Three Tips for Maximizing Learning Outcomes by The Creative Trainer – Robert W. Lucas, Awarding Winning Brain-Based Adult Training Author

Robert W. Lucas is an internationally-known author and learning and performance expert. He specializes in workplace performance-based training and consulting services. Furthermore, he has four decades of experience in human resources development, management, and customer service in a variety of organizational environments. Robert Lucas was the 1995 and 2011 President of the Central Florida Chapter of the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD).

Robert W. Lucas has lived, traveled, and worked in 28 different countries and geographic areas. During the past 40 years, Bob has shared his knowledge with workplace professionals from hundreds of organizations, such as Webster University, AAA, Orange County Clerk of Courts, Walt Disney World, SeaWorld, Martin Marietta, all U.S. military branches, and Wachovia Bank. In addition, Bob has provided consulting and training services to numerous major organizations on a variety of workplace learning topics. To contact Bob visit his website at www.robertwlucas.com or his blog www.thecreativetrainer.com.

Use Flip Chart Icebreakers to Engage Your Adult Learners

Use Flip Chart Icebreakers to Engage Your Adult Learners

As learning and performance professional for over four decades, I have found that in most learning environments I have to give adult learners a reason for listening and participating in the program. To do this early in a program, I have to help tune their internal “radio station,” from which they get their life experiences, into station AVAR FM — Channel 1. AVARFM stands for Added Value And Results For Me — #1. In other words, I have to give them a reason to listen by showing what they will gain or how they will benefit from participating.

Use Flip Chart Icebreakers to Engage Your Adult Learners

One of the easiest ways to show value is to get participants involved as soon as possible in their learning. There are numerous ways to accomplish this. And, with each, you can have them flip chart their responses or ideas to share with the group. Here are two simple techniques you may have seen or wish to consider:

  1. Pair participants and have them interview each other. Give them a list of things to find out about each other and have them flip chart the responses using a “T” chart format. This type of simple activity allows participants an opportunity to network and learn about their peers through active involvement. It also ties into brain-based research by getting them actively engaged and tapping into past experiences as they generate their lists.
  2. Group people and have them develop a list of questions that they have heard or want to be answered related to the program topic on a flip chart? For example, in a program on interpersonal communication, they might ask, “Why do people sometimes read into the non-verbal cues of others?” Once each group is finished, review the questions and either answer them at that time or state that as you go through the program you will be discussing the topics raised (assuming you plan to do so). By using this activity, you can uncover the needs of your group while determining what is important to them while getting them involved in the program.

For additional ideas on creative ways to create, use, transport, and store flip charts, get a copy of The Big Book of Flip Charts: A Comprehensive Guide for Presenters, Trainers, and Team Facilitators.

The Role of Learner-Centered Activity in Training

The Role of Learner-Centered Activity in Training

To effectively engage and energize your participants, you must build a variety of learner-centered activities into each of your sessions. Brain-based learning research adult learning theory (andragogy) suggests that participants learn and retain more when they are an active part of the learning process. Such involvement can be the result of individual and/or group activity. In whatever format, involvement can lead to more confident, independent, and self-managed learners.

The Role of Learner-Centered Activity in Training by The Creative Trainer – Robert W. Lucas, Awarding Winning Adult Training Author

The Role of Learner-Centered Activity in TrainingAs Carla Hannaford stresses in her book, Smart Moves: Why Learning is Not All in Your Head, “To ‘pin down’ a thought, there must be movement. A person may sit quietly to think, but to remember a thought, an action must be used to anchor it.” Just as children learn through experimenting, so do adults, through experiential and accelerated learning strategies. To maximize the potential of such activities, provide a variety of opportunities for learners to mentally and physically process and practice information and skills.

One way to get learners involved is through the use of visual imagery exercises (visioning).  In such an activity, participants are asked to close their eyes and imagine or visualize themselves in an environment that you suggest and using the information or processes they have learned to successfully complete a task. For example, you might ask them to relax and imagine an environment in which they are using the steps to a decision-making process that you have taught them to solve workplace problems. Encourage participants to involve as many senses as possible and guide them through the imagery by asking questions like:

  •  What does the environment look like currently?
  • How does it feel to do (whatever the process entails)?
  • How does it look as you are performing (the activity)?
  • What positive feedback do others give you as a result of your actions?
  • What is the final outcome after you successfully performed the task?

An alternative way of conducting a visioning activity is to have participants envision a situation, then open their eyes and write down a description of their image or draw a picture of it. As participants are introduced to the activity, you can provide some light classical, Baroque, or instrumental music in the background. Some current musicians who have produced music include Dave Koz, Kenny G, Giovanni Marradi, Jai Peng Fang, and George Winston. Just be selective and find tunes that are more mellow and lower beat for your activities so that you do not distract learners.

Other individual activities to potentially stimulate learning include the use of:

The Role of Learner-Centered Activity in TrainingFor additional ideas on how to actively engage learners and stimulate your learning environment get a copy of The Creative Training Idea Book: Inspired Tips and Techniques for Engaging and Effective Learning.

Those Who Made A Difference – A Coaching and Mentoring Energizer Activity

Those Who Made A Difference – A Coaching and Mentoring Energizer Activity

Adult learning theory and brain-based learning research both suggest that by getting your trainees actively engaged in the learning process, you can increase enthusiasm for the material and potentially improve the chances that what was covered will be retained and used later. Further, by integrating energizer activities into your program design, you also help learners assume responsibility and ownership for learning outcomes since they were part of content development.

Those Who Made A Difference – A Coaching and Mentoring Energizer Activity by The Creative Trainer – Robert W. Lucas, Awarding Winning Author

The following activity can be used in supervisory, management, or volunteer training sessions where you want learners to reflect on the power of coaching, mentoring or helping others.

Those Who Made A Difference – A Coaching and Mentoring Energizer Activity

Purpose: To help prompt thinking about characteristics that make people successful in a given environment or situation.

Objectives: By reflecting on past personal experiences and identifying characteristics of people they have known, participants will be able to:

  • Pinpoint specific traits for successful people that they can emulate.
  • Recognize what they value as successful.

Process:

  • Tell participants they have five minutes to take out a sheet of paper and write the name of someone they think was successful in a given environment or situation (i.e., managing others, giving feedback, listening, organizing their time, dealing with change).
  • Next, have them take another five minutes to list 2-3 traits or characteristic behavior that these people exhibited that made them successful.
  • After five minutes, go around the room and have each person share the traits they wrote and why they think these are important. List the traits on a flip chart page.
  • Once all participants have shared their traits, look for commonalities and discuss as a group.
  • Suggest that they may want to think about how they too can use these traits for their own improvement.

Materials Needed:

  • Flip chart pad with easel.
  • Assorted colored markers.
  • Paper and pencils for participants.

Time Required: Approximately 20-30 minutes, depending on group size.

Those Who Made A Difference – A Coaching and Mentoring Energizer ActivitySource: Lucas, R. W., The Big Book of Flip Charts: A Comprehensive Guide for Presenters, Trainers and Team Facilitators.