Practical Techniques for Training Adults

In this final article on IT training, Rob England gets down to some nitty-gritty tips and techniques to use in the classroom.


You Can't Detect What You Can't See: Illuminating the Entire Kill Chain

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Posted November 25, 2009

Rob England

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As we said last time, there is a high ratio of amateurs delivering IT training.  This is especially true for in-house training, where IT workers are asked to train their peers.   But it is also true to some extent among professional training organizations, and even in tertiary institutes.  In trainers, technical understanding is valued above the ability to train adults. 

(See the first three articles in this series: IT Teachers Suck, Teaching Adults (Yes, It's Different) , and  Delivering Training to Adults)

Perhaps this is inescapable in such a complex field as IT, but we are all professionals.  If we can acquire the theoretical frameworks and practical techniques we need to do other areas of our work, we should do the same when delivering training.   There is a body of knowledge out there to be accessed.   This series of articles gives an introduction.   Hopefully those delivering training will be inspired to go find out more.  Why go to the effort of reciting all that information of it is not assimilated by your trainees?

Your results will be better and you will have more fun delivering them. There is great satisfaction in being a good teacher.

In the previous article we discussed the practical aspects of delivering training, based on four aspects: Audience, Yourself, Content, and Delivery.  That advice will help you design and prepare for delivering training.  This article looks at ideas to use in the classroom when delivering.

Lesson plan

Before we give you a bunch of smaller ideas, there is one big important recommendation: have a lesson plan.  If somebody else prepared the materials, they should provide one – ask for it.  If it is your course, then make a plan under the following headings:

Audience: what sort of audience is the course intended for?

Learning outcome: what are trainees intended to take away?  What do they need to learn?  Remember from an earlier article: knowledge, skills and/or values.

Content: where does it come from?  Where is it?   In what form?  How will it be presented? (e.g. PowerPoint)  How is it given to trainees? (e.g. printed book and CD)  What special content is required? (e.g. Introduce the instructor and establish credibility, or a creative opening to establish relationship and relax the room).

Method: the steps to go through and the techniques and tools used at each step (more about them later), e.g. this example from a lesson plan of mine on “Thing-Fixing”

1.      Establish learning contract

2.      Review of Thing-Fixing theory on PowerPoint, with buzz groups

3.      Thing-Fixing at our organization: instructor-led discussion, bringing out war stories from the more experienced students, seeking confirmation of key points

4.      Pyramid groups 1-2-4 on key points to bear in mind when preparing for Thing-Fixing

5.      Summary of key points

6.      Powerpoint examples of techniques for Thing-Fixing

7.      Discussion in groups of two of any questions

8.      Write down three key points they have learned

Assessment: how the students will be assessed to see what they got from the coursed, e.g. exam, practical test, on-the-job assessment, supervisor feedback…  Will there be a pass/fail?  A score?  Or simply a descriptive report?

Evaluation: how the course and delivery will be evaluated, e.g. feedback forms, consolidated assessment data, survey supervisors, monitoring future outcomes (is the job done better?)…

Resources: what is required to deliver the course, e.g. projector, flipcharts, bull-horn (just kidding)…

Comments: description of the course and any special considerations


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Tags: IT, education, IT career, tips, training

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