What makes a great teacher? At school when the end of lesson bell rings, what happens?.
Do the students stay put? Are they so glued to the exciting learning experience that they remain focused? OR… Are they counting down the minutes to when they can escape?
The students’ response will often depend on the quality of the teaching. If students are engaged and see the relevance of what they are learning, if they see that behaviours can be changed and they have the chance to explore and discover solutions to problems, then they are usually more engaged and will value the learning.
The greatest mistake any teacher, facilitator or presenter can make is to assume that the audience is as passionate about the topic as they are. The number one task of any teacher is to first ensure engagement.
We once delivered a carefully designed workshop on design thinking to an oil company that led to the participant solving a wicked problem in 3 hours. This work had previously taken them 3 years with no clear result.
Needless to say when the time for the end of the workshop came the participants were not rushing out the door, they were highly motivated to finish what they had started. They were determined to walk away with a practical action plan.
The importance of content + context
So how can a session be presented in a way that the key learnings will be remembered and acted on?
The content needs to be high quality, novel. It should be carefully designed to support a clear learning flow and then presented through a methodology that can ensure the core messages can be absorbed effectively and that the results can be applied in a measurable way.
A training session also needs to cover more than just content. It also needs to provide context. This helps to provide the justification and motivation for the participants to want to learn and change their behaviours.
The content should additionally be presented by someone who knows the subject matter intimately, with the right experience to drive the session effectively and authentically.
Getting the methodology right
Another key to ensuring the content sticks is through employing experiential learning techniques. These methods bring the learning to life. Gamification can also help to make the learning process more engaging.
Experiential learning and gamification can be used to create “virtual practice fields”. This allows individuals and teams to test assumptions and experiment with ideas without having to face real world reversals or setbacks. Companies need to create these practice fields where issues that arise in the workplace can be isolated and focused on.
This enables individuals and teams to see the consequences of particular actions and incidents that can occur very rapidly in the workplace and ensure they can be examined in more detail. The complexities of the everyday working environment can then be simplified and analyzed.
Actions and attitudes that cannot be reversed or taken back in the real world can be re-tried countless times in a protected environment. Yet for this approach to be effective, it will be important to engage the greatest sceptic in the room through ensuring authenticity.
The value of authentic experience
When using experiential learning gamification, it’s important to not insult people’s intelligence.
As an example, too often ‘team building’ is nothing more than childish filler games to offset a boring ‘shop talk’ presentation, or a reward make up for a tough year.
This can be not much better than the parent who after ignoring their child tries to make up for it with a sugar fix reward! In some polls as few as 5% of participants say that team building is effective, while 27% say it depends on the activity.
Yet appropriate and authentic experiential learning can lead to robust individual and team development when done well.
Facilitation vs training
While the general concept covered and title of this article is ‘training’, this style of delivery is usually considered to be at the lower end of education practices.
Training usually refers to the delivery of existing generic material and can be focused on helping to develop a specific skillset or impart specific information.
Consider framing a session as 'facilitated experiences' instead. The focus then can be on developing skills for ongoing learning and inquiry, and learning ‘happens’ as a natural consequence. In these situations participants are more often engaged.
See more about our definitions here.
Dialogue rather than diatribe
A professional facilitator makes dialogue look easy. In fact they are crafting a direction and journey to guide the participants towards productive outcomes.
They will help the individuals and teams:
- increase effectiveness by improving processes and structure, and they will be able to address dysfunctional behaviour and culture challenges
- actively interact and participate in the dialogue
- become observers of their own thinking
- understand new ways to look at old or familiar concepts and reframe content in response to feedback
True education provides inspires people to develop their mindset and learn skills in a way that they can discover the lessons for themselves. This helps them to remember and apply what they have learnt.
Find out more about Tirian’s new digital delivery options: www.tirian.com/digital-solutions
Gaia Grant (PhD) is a lecturer and researcher at the University of Sydney Business School in the Discipline of Strategy, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship, focusing on research into innovation paradoxes and ambidextrous leadership. Gaia is also a Director of Tirian Innovative Solutions, & the co-author (with Andrew Grant) of a number of books including ‘The Innovation Race’, and “Who Killed Creativity?”.
Andrew Grant is the Director of Tirian Innovative Solutions, and co-author (with Dr Gaia Grant) of a number of books including ‘The Innovation Race’, and “Who Killed Creativity?”.