Over the years, I have attended a lot of training courses. In recent times, I have been on the other end running as a trainer. Looking through the lens of Sharon Bowman’s Training from the BACK of the Room! I see a number of common dysfunctions in traditional training and courseware.
Same Old Training Spaces
Dreary, underground training spaces set up in rows like a class room. No day light, bad strip lighting and not a snack in sight. I’m sure we’ve all had a session in a space like this. We find ourselves drifting as we disengage due to the abject beigeness of it all.
Jazz up your training spaces. Go for a cabaret format, put toys, fat pens, colourful card and paper on the tables. Get colourful posters on the walls around the room and get some music going (if the venue allows it). Prefer natural daylight to a bunker and always try to get an interesting space. The training space is your environment. Make sure it is as engaging as possible.
Broken Learning Outcomes
It shocks me how often I see courses with terrible learning outcomes. Worse still, sometimes courses have no learning outcomes at all. How can you judge if the course is right for you if you don’t know what you will walk away with at the end of it? How is the trainer going to assess if you have “got” the training if there is nothing observable to show that you have “got” it? Big hint here: A trainer can not see if you “know”, “understand”, and “learn” something. These are not observable learning outcomes!
There are many opinions about different Taxonomies for learning objectives. I’m not planning on going there right now. That being said, if the training course does not have learning outcomes or the outcomes look like, “You will understand <foo>”… be wary. How can a trainer tell if you as a learner “understand” something? It’s not observable.
We need to see something like, “You will be able to explain <foo>”. Why is this better? Because the trainer can ask you to explain <foo>. If you can do that, you’ve met the learning outcome. If you can’t, the trainer can help you to meet the learning outcome.
Publish your course’s learning outcomes. Get learners to engage with them and decide what is most important to them. Ask learners, “Why are you on the course?” Make friends with your learning outcomes. Your students will thank you for it!
Trainer as the Star
A lot of trainers I know (myself included) are pretty extroverted. We enjoy having the limelight and the platform. That’s great for us, but it doesn’t help learning. Brain science tells us that the person doing most of the talking is the person doing most of the learning. So the more the trainer is in the limelight, the less the learners learn.
Trainers need to curb the urge to be the star of the show and put the learners front and centre. Get your learners talking to each other as much as possible. Devise strategies to get learners to teach each other the content. If you must lecture, keep it as short as you can. Set up multi-sensory reviews for the learners to take on the new information.
I will be doing a follow-up post to this with some more Anti-patterns of Training. What anti-patterns of training have you seen either as a trainer or learner?