Making Adult Learning Active and Keeping It Flowing

Making Adult Learning Active and Keeping It Flowing

Making Adult Learning Active and Keeping It Flowing

Have you ever sat through a training session where the trainer did the majority of the talking? How about a session where there was little interaction between attendees? If you answered yes to either of these questions you know why it is important for you too facilitate information exchange and provide opportunities for active participant engagement during learning.

Making Adult Learning Active and Keeping It Flowing by The Creative Trainer

Here are a variety of strategies that you can build into your training design to help ensure that participants get the most from a learning experience.

  • Design lesson plans and materials that are interactive and allow learners to take meaningful notes, move around the room and engage with the facilitator and other attendees.
  • Put learning objectives in writing (e.g. in handouts, on writing dry erase board or flip chart or on a slide) and review them at the beginning of the session. This will help learners to focus on key concepts during the session while providing a point of referral as the program progresses, especially for participants with a visual learning preference.
  • To reinforce the learning objectives, ask learners before delivering session concepts on how each might be of value to them in the workplace. This stimulates their brains and gets them thinking positively about how they can potentially apply the learning following the session. During the session, you might also refer to posted copies of the objectives or the handouts and point out concepts that you just covered and how those relate to the objectives.
  • Brain-based learning research indicates that the brain can only process a limited amount of information during a given period. Remember to chunk the material being delivered into small segments (e.g. no more than 7 items, plus or minus two).
  • Provide a break inflow of content every 18-20 minutes or so to allow mental variety and stimulation. This might be to do an instructor-led question and answer segment, break participants into small groups for an activity or to discuss content and brainstorm or some similar event.
  • Tap into the knowledge and experience of your learners. They have more collective expertise than you can hope to amass. Provide opportunities for them to share this with you and one another rather than being the “sage on the stage” with all the answers.

For hundreds of additional training tips, ideas, strategies, and techniques to get learners up and moving, check out 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.

The Importance of Planning in Developing and Delivering Training

The Importance of Planning in Developing and Delivering Training

Many subject matter experts, who thought they knew their material well, have tried to “wing it” or speak extemporaneously in a classroom. What they failed to realize is that being an expert on a topic and being able to train others on that topic involves different skill sets.  Within minutes of opening their mouth, their audience knew the horrible truth — the trainer had not taken the time to prepare adequately.

The Importance of Planning in Developing and Delivering TrainingBeing unprepared reflects poorly upon the facilitator and negatively impacts learners and their organization in such instances. Without the use of established learning objectives and a lesson plan, or preparation and use of professional support materials, a sound knowledge of adult learning theory, skill at facilitating knowledge exchange in a group, or one-on-one setting,  their message lost its impact.

It is important that you remember that you must effectively communicate and engage your learners from the time that you open your mouth during the introduction of a session until the time you end the workshop. This is because they will go through an attention curve. At the beginning, attendees will often be excited about learning. There will then be high and low points in their attention span throughout the remainder of the program. During these periods, things in their surroundings will likely drift in and out of focus and think of other things. Periodically, they will mentally check back in during activities and reviews to see if there is anything of interest before drifting away again. Towards the end of the workshop, they will start to focus more in hopes of catching some key concepts and hearing a solid review of important information that they might have missed.

To help better manage learner attention, you should be proactive in designing and using a variety of environmental elements (e.g. activities, novelty, color, sound, motion, light, and other brain-based learning factors) to help attract and hold attention. Such elements will also assist learners in gaining, retaining, recalling, and using what they see, hear, or otherwise experience.

For additional ideas and strategies on designing, developing and delivering information in a manner that ties to brain-based learning research, get copies of The Creative Training Idea Book: Inspired Tips and Techniques for Engaging and Effective Learning, Energize Your Training: Creative Techniques to Engage Your Learners and Training Workshop Essentials: Designing, Developing and Delivering Learning Events That Get Results

Taking a Brain-Based Learning Approach to Training Design and Development

Taking a Brain-Based Learning Approach to Training Design and Development

Using creativity in training to establish a brain-based learning environment is essential for helping learners better gain, retain, recall, and use what they experience. As trainers and educators, you should open your eyes and take an objective look around from time-to-time in order to discover examples, issues, and ideas that can be incorporated into workshops and other learning vehicles. These observations might form the basis of an analogy or story that can help introduce or support a topic in one of your learning sessions. By collecting and assimilating such information and strategies, you will be able to better develop a creative learning environment.

Taking a Brain Based Learning Approach to Training Design and Development

Taking a Brain-Based Learning Approach to Training Design

One strategy that you might consider to identify new material and strategies to enhance your training is to conduct what I call a creativity analysis. By doing so you can often pinpoint issues and items that are important from a values standpoint or that impact various elements within a culture. Such a scan is especially effective if you travel to locations that are outside your own organization, geographic area, or comfort zone.

There are many cultures in various locations throughout the world where people view things differently and approach learning and life from a diverse perspective. They potentially view education and training from a standpoint that is literally foreign to you. These differences can cause challenges for you as a facilitator if they are new to you. They can also provide a learning opportunity and chance to expand your knowledge and grow professionally.

As part of your analysis, consider looking for trends in clothing, transportation, business processes, religious beliefs, and other key aspects of life which might be incorporated or compared to your personal or societal norm. Think of how these elements might serve as a basis for discussion in a session that you design or facilitate.

The following techniques may provide possible material, concepts, or ideas that can be easily integrated into your brain-based training design, training delivery, or learning content in your next training programs:

  • Scan movies, television, or radio programs. Look for ideas, material, or trends related to program content.
  • Evaluate newspapers, advertising, billboards, and professional magazine articles (about related topics/skills). Try to identify potential resources and societal issues.
  • Scrutinize junk email and mail you receive. Through it, determinations about existing resources and what else is being done in the field or on a specific topic can be made.
  • Brainstorm alone or with others. Take some time to evaluate and consider changing what is currently, or has historically been done in programs. To accomplish that, ask the following questions:

(a) What is currently being done which might inhibit or limit participant learning?

(b) What can be expanded to enhance learning?

(c) What is being done to ensure that the knowledge and skills learned in the classroom are transferred to the workplace?

(d) What techniques, strategies, or activities can be combined to increase learning?

(e) What techniques, strategies, props, incentives, or approaches could be substituted for ones currently in use?

(f) How can techniques, strategies, activities, incentives, or props be used in other programs to effective learning?

(g) What steps, processes, or information currently used could be reorganized in a different order to increase effectiveness?

  • Capture ideas. Keep a tape recorder or pen and paper handy at all times (IE By the bed, in the car, on desktop) to capture creative ideas and thoughts as they occur.
  • Take idea excursions. Search for props, incentives, and materials that can be adapted or used for training are everywhere. Go on outings specifically to find new anything that might enhance learning, involve participants, and add sizzle to your programs.

Some possible idea excursion locations to explore and what to look for follow. Do not forget a pen and paper or a tape recorder to capture your ideas.

(a) Toy stores (games, incentives, and props).

(b) Catalog suppliers (toys, games, incentives, props, prizes, software, and music).

(c) Teacher supply stores (incentives, clip art, and craft supplies).

(d) Discount/Clearance or closeout stores (toys, games, incentives, prizes, and admin supplies).

(e) Department stores (toys, incentives, and supplies).

(f) Card/Gift stores (prizes and incentives).

(g) Costumes stores (props and incentives).

(h) Magic shops (props, attention gainers, self-working magic tricks, and incentives).

(i) Flea markets (toys, incentives, prizes, and supplies).

(j) Book stores (incentives, prizes, and reference materials).

(k) Software stores (puzzle software, games, presentation productivity software/clip art).

(l) Party supply stores (noisemakers, incentives, confetti, and themed decorations, props, and supplies).

(m) Specialty shops (varies depending on inventory maintained).

(n) Arts and crafts stores (clip art, poster board, spray adhesive, supplies, and incentives).

  • Contact wholesale suppliers. There are numerous suppliers that can provide creative incentives, materials, programs, and products which can be adapted or used to enhance learning. Once you set up a commercial account with them, you get access to their catalog of products at discounted prices.

There is no limit to what you can adapt and use in your learning events. You are limited only by your imagination. Identify your program content and a theme to go with it, then search for items that can help make the content come alive and remain memorable to your learners.

Taking a Brain Based Learning Approach to Training Design and Development

For an encyclopedia of creative ideas and ways to incorporate brain-based learning strategies into your training and adult education programs, consider getting a copy of The Creative Trainer Idea Book: Inspired Tips and Techniques for Engaging and Effective Learning.