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Train the trainer – Discover the keys to create dynamic and interactive workshops for adults

Pedagogy versus andragogy, teaching adults is different from teaching kids

Pedagogy: teaching kids

Imagine this scenario: you’ve found yourself being assigned the task to train your peers about a specific solution. You are confident about the adequacy of your knowledge but start to wonder if you are capable of getting this information across effectively to your peers. In order to maintain your audience’s attention, you will have to structure your learning workshop in an engaging and interactive way.

The most common education style you are probably familiar with is pedagogy – the method and practice of teaching, especially as an academic subject or theoretical concept. Most of us grew up in a pedagogical classroom environment where learning materials are decided by our school’s curriculum and the learning style determined by the teacher. This is because a child enters school with little to no attainment of experience; we did not know what to learn or how to learn.

Educational method: PEDAGOGY

However, as we mature into adults, how we learn and retain information changes drastically. We develop habits, behaviours and traits that make us a challenging audience for any trainer.

Andragogy as the best way to teaching adults

Andragogy is the methods and techniques used to teach adults; the art or science of teaching adults; focus is on learning rather than on content.

Educational method: ANDRAGOGY

Compare to children, adults have more expectations and requirements when they enter in classroom. Trying to use pedagogy with a class full of adults will only lead to resistance and rejection.

Andragogy respects adults needs and will focus on problem-based learning rather than content-oriented learning. To do so, a trainer will:

  • Ask learners to identify what they would like to learn about a topic.

  • Establish clear learning objectives that make the connection between a participant's needs and the learning content.

  • Share examples and stories that relate the learning content to the participants' current challenges. Ask learners to share their own examples that make this linkage.

  • Engage learners in identifying the challenges they face and the value of learning to address these challenges.

  • Follow lectures and theoretical sessions with practical examples and applications to demonstrate the relevance of the learning.

Adult learning is based on the following assumptions and principles:

Adults want to know why they should learn

We are more eager to learn something that will have an impact on our job or personal life. Adults are practical; they want to know what is there for them. They will pay attention and learn if they know that it will help improve a specific aspect of their lives. They need their learning experiences to make sense and to be valuable to them. As such, to achieve an interactive and dynamic workshop experience, trainers should adjust their teaching material in a way that relates or provides specific value to the audience.

Adults bring experience to learning

An Adult will have already amassed an amazing lifetime of experiences and they are valuable resources for learning. Adults commonly find themselves tapping into their experiences and past failures to relate to the learning material. As such, they can apply their existing knowledge to manage their own learning experience. Knowing your audience’s experiences and skills beforehand can be extremely helpful in creating an interactive and engaging learning experience.

Adults need to take responsibility

Adults want to be responsible for their own learning. They want to be respected as learners who are able to set their own learning goals and be self-sufficient. They are eager to be involved in the planning of their own learning experience and make a decision on which information they want to receive. With that being said, as a trainer you will want to have a support system in place, which allows your audience to freely ask questions and be flexible with their learning experience.

Adults and self-motivated and self-directed

As adults, our motivators exist externally and internally. External motivators include a better job or a higher salary. Nonetheless, internal motivators remain the key fundamentals of our learning. They include self-fulfilment, self-confidence, a better life and personal development. A trainer should always consider his or her audience’s motivations when preparing the learning material. For example, if you are asking them to do a group activity, you should emphasize that it will increase their teamwork and communication skills.

We can continue the list of adults learning principles and assumptions with the following:

  • Adults have self-pride and desire respect

  • Adult learning is problem-centered rather than content-oriented

  • Adults desire feedback on the progress they are making

  • Adults learn best through collaboration and reciprocity

The learning cone, a powerful tool for trainers and facilitators

The learning cone by Edgar Dale is an amazing tool to assist facilitators and trainers. The learning cone will explain to you how adults learn and retain information to assist you to design powerful training content. Thanks to the learning cone you get to understand that adults will need a lot of practice, interactions, debates and direct applications to maintain focus and attention.

With the learning cone you get to understand that your lecture will not be enough to engage your audience. If you are planning on talking and talking for minutes and hours without interactions and with no chance for your audience to share and participate, you might not get the expected results. The learning cone helps you understand that you will need to engage your audience, to invite them to participate and share their knowledge, you will need to be creative to design a fun and interactive learning session.

The Learning Cone, Edgar Dale

Would you like to learn more about train the trainer skills? Would you like to be coached or train? Our train the trainer program is right for you. Content and duration are flexible to meet your exact needs.

From adult learning principles to emotional intelligence through communication skills, storytelling, personality types, and self-confidence, our unique program is exactly what you need to design and facilitate powerful, interactive and fun workshops for adults. It can include video training and ‘on the job’ audit for better results.

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Jason Zhao & Maud Vanhoutte

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