Practical ideas for facilitating workshops & people development

Posts tagged ‘adult learning’

Helping Adults Learn

Workshop-3

When planning any training or extension events for adults consider what’s important for them to learn. The pioneer of adult learning was Malcolm Knowles, he identified the six principles of adult learning provided below.

1. Adults are internally motivated and self-directed

  • Encourage adults to take an active role in their own learning. Recognise their individual motivations for participating and remember we resist learning when we feel forced to participate.
  • Time spent establishing the group at the beginning to build trust is time well spent. It builds rapport with you as the facilitator/trainer and with the other members of the group encouraging participants to be actively involved. It can also provide an insight into the individuals motivations for attending.
  • Encourage participants to share and explore ideas before providing the facts.
  • Give constructive useful feedback – however, before doing this check in with the participants to ensure they are open to receiving it.
  • Choose activities that are relevant to the participants work and life.
  • Consider preferred learning styles of participants and cater for all types  –VARK Learning Styles 

2. Adults bring life experiences and knowledge to learning experiences. This may include work-related activities, family, previous education and general life experience.

  • Ask them to share their experiences about the topic and help them to connect their learnings with their work/life experiences.
  • Listen carefully to the experiences shared and relate this to the theory.
  • Adults learn as much from others in the room as they do from the trainer – provide opportunities to talk and share experiences.

3. Adults are goal-oriented

  • Ask them about their personal expectations / goals for the activity. Record these and reflect back on them during the workshop – are their goals being met? Check in at the end of the workshop to see if they have been achieved.
  • Be clear about your goals and outcomes for the workshop/activity.
  • Show them how specific learning experiences may fit with their goals.

4. Adults are relevancy-oriented

  • Provide choices for participants where appropriate so they can choose what they consider to be the most relevant to their circumstances.
  • Explain the relevance of activities you ask participants to do.
  • Relate theory to practical experiences and outcomes.

5.  Adults are practical.  They like to be able to apply their knowledge

  • Provide them with opportunities to visit trials or demonstrations – get them out in the field.
  • Include speakers who have been successful in applying the theory to explain or show how it worked in their circumstances.
  • Include practical activities where ever possible.
  • No-one likes to sit and listen all day! Especially farmers who are used to being active and outside.

6. Adult learners like to be respected for the considerable life experiences they bring.

  • Treated them as equals.
  • Provide opportunities for them to voice their own opinions.
  • Let them plan their next steps and take responsibility for their learning journey.
  • Provide support through coaching and mentoring.

Finally adults come along to training events and activities to network and meet other like minded people. Ensure everyone has the chance to introduce themselves to the group, provide clear easy to read name tags and allow time in the breaks for networking.

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The facilitators tool kit

2014-10-04 10.14.09I was asked recently what a facilitator should have in their toolkit. Hence today I thought I would go back to basics.. what does the facilitator/trainer need in their tool box?

The basics

  • Permanent markers – I like Mr Sketch coloured markers
  • White board markers & eraser
  • Blu tack to put up flip charts around the room
  • Flip charts, or as I call it butchers paper
  • Masking tape – great for name tags, it stays on rather than falling off!
  • Post it notes
  • Highlighter pens
  • Coloured markers for participants
  • Spare pens for participants who forget to bring their own
  • Scissors
  • Data projector, power board and extension cord if required
  • A whiteboard that doubles as a flip chart stand

For the facilitation sessions

  • Cheap plastic table cloth
  • 3M repositional glue
  • A5 paper
  • Black markers – enough for every member of the group
  • Coloured dots, helpful for prioritising and voting
  • Large post it notes can be very useful too

And the extra bits

  • Pipe cleaners for the kinaesthetic learners to play with
  • Balls and toys
  • A clear clock to put on the desk so its easy to keep track of the time without looking constantly at our watch!
  • A bell can be handy when working with large groups to get their attention or change tasks – be aware not to over use it
  • Timer for short activities
  • Note books/paper for participants if required
  • Camera/phone to capture some piccs or take photos of the information generated by the group
  • A speaker to play music in the breaks or sound for videos

And to easily move all of this about, a box on wheels is very useful.What else do people have in their toolkit?

The impact of energy

IMG_6968In the last two weeks I have attended two very contrasting workshops. Both were delivered  by internationally recognised speakers, both with very different energy impacts and outcomes for me, as the participant.

The first was delivered by a motivational keynote speaker. It was high energy and high impact, I left each day with my head buzzing, excited by what I had learned and looking forward to the following day. I even had trouble sleeping at night as the concepts were rolling around in my head keeping me awake. Since leaving the workshop (now nearly two weeks ago) I am still thinking about what I learnt and how I can apply into my work.

I left the second workshop feeling grounded and rather tired. The presenter didn’t provide energy from the front of the room and wasn’t able to extract the energy from the participants either. I’m sorry to say I would be unable to recall some of the main points from this workshop and it was more recent that the first.

There were some similarities between the speakers – both were passionate about their topic, both delivered a similar number of points in the same timeframe, both used stories and both asked us to discuss their key points with the person beside us. A similar workshop framework being used and yet such a different impact on me as the participant.

What did I take away from this experience – it was an important reminder that we learn and remember more when the learning is attached to emotion. Emotion for me is connected to the energy and enthusiasm of the presenter.

I’m not suggesting we should all go over the top and be “cheerleaders”. However we do need to think about our own energy levels and  the impact we are having on our participants. What works for us will not work for everyone.

Experiment with your own energy level at the front of the room, watch and monitor the group reactions.

From now on when I develop my session plans I will include a new column “energy” and determine for each section the energy level I believe is required and how this can be achieved for the group. Varying the energy level throughout the day to maximise learning, I will also include this in my personal workshop review.

I would be interested in your comments about the energy levels of presenters – when does it become exhausting? what is too much or too little? How do you change your energy for groups?

 

 

Mentoring programs – key success factors

2014-07-28 15.28.44What makes a mentoring program successful?

Having been involved in mentoring programs as a facilitator and mentor I have been researching other programs to find out the key success factors.

My motivation for this .. we are about to embark on establishing a mentoring program as part of a rural women’s leadership program and are very keen to build a model that is robust and sustainable.

The mentoring program will be a formal one as opposed to informal. For my thoughts and definition of mentoring follow this link to a previous blog The power of mentoring 

From my discussions and reading I have found the key success factors include

  • Training for the mentors and mentees so everyone fully understands their roles and responsibilities. This should be carried out separately so mentors can develop knowledge of some mentoring frameworks and key skills such as communication skills, questioning, listening, feedback and being non judgemental.
  • Guidelines, the how we will work together discussion is critical to success.
  • Clear boundaries around the length of time the relationship will last and when it will be reviewed.
  • Evaulation process – continual feedback
  • Support for the mentors, this can take the form of a group mentor discussion so the mentors can learn from each other. One on one support is also important should challenges arise in a relationship.
  • A mentee who is highly motivated, has a clear purpose and outcome they are looking for from the relationship. This could be a personal or professional goal, clarity is whats important.
  • Matching mentors and mentees – there is some debate about the best way to do this. However an element of choice on both sides was highlighted as important. The program need to allow opportunity to get to know each other, one program used a speed dating and networking activities and then asked the mentees to nominate their top 3 choices. The mentor then chose which mentee they would like to work with.
  • A strong sense of commitment to the process from both parties.
  • An industry culture that recognises and values the benefit of mentoring
  • Other ideas included a robust skills analysis for the mentors – they don’t always know what they are good at.

Thankyou to Jill Greenhaigh and Philippa Rawlinson from Lincoln University, Ruth Nettle from Melbourne University, Belinda Griffiths and Jenny O’Sullivan from Dairy Sage for their research and comments, past participants in our programs and past mentees for their insights for this blog and our future program.

If any readers have any thoughts about what would make a successful mentoring program we would love to hear your thoughts.

A reminder of what not to do..

2014-06-26 08.51.29Sometimes I need reminding by a group of participants about the “What not to do at the front of the room”. I recently attended a Australasia Pacific Extension Network  (APEN) Roadshow – “Designing Effective Events … by understanding how adults learn”  facilitated by Andrew Huffer. One of the discussion points was what are some of the things we dislike from presenters – the things we should take note of and change! There was nothing really new however some good reminders so we make all of our presentations “Wow”.

Some of their key points raised

  • Repetitious behaviour such as jiggling keys or coins in your pocket or swaying – something to be aware of when we are nervous. The key jiggling seems to be more common with males, because of pants with pockets containing the keys rather than handbags I suspect. Participants report finding this type of behaviour distracting.
  • Reading from the power point presentation, demonstrating no awareness of  the audience and not connecting with them. The power point should be there as a guide not be “the presentation” the audience is looking for a personal connection with the presenter. We learn and remember when we are emotionally connected with the presenter or the material in some way, think about how you can connect and do this very early in your presentation. for a few tips on power points https://workshopswithwow.com/tag/powerpoints/
  • Not catering for various learning styles, perhaps the presenter is only considering his or her own learning style rather than being inclusive of all. I am a very visual learner and like to see colour and visuals as part of a presentation not just words and audio, others prefer activities. To review learning styles follow this link    https://workshopswithwow.com/tag/vark/
  • Too many acronyms, only those in the know know them! Avoid acronyms were possible or write them in full.
  • Overload of too much complex data. Remember the famous quote “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler,” Albert Einstein. The complex data may be very meaningful to you, however, what are the key messages you need your audience to take away.

I’m sure my readers have many other “What’s not to do’s” and I would love you to add some comments to this blog. A big thank you to APEN and Andrew Huffer for making the workshops across the country a success.

After a slow time with my blog due to a busy workload and a trip overseas I am back on deck, you will be receiving more regular blogs once again. Thanks for your support and ongoing messages which keep me motivated.

The ORID

2013-02-05 13.13.52The ORID technique came into my life during the first facilitation workshop I ever attended and I have found it to be an extremely useful tool.

As described by R Brian Stanfield in his book, The Art of Focused Conversation, the ORID provides a framework for conversations to solve a problem, make a decision, evaluate an event, generate commitment, explore options or to build on a vision. His book provides 100 examples of using the technique in our everyday life.

I find it particularly useful as a review or evaulation process and to assist with decision making. So how does it work?

O Objective question – these are the questions to analyse the facts and external reality. I often think of this as the ‘head’ or logic questions. Examples include :

  • What are the topics we have talked about today?
  • What is the financial position?
  • What are the key facts?
  • What were the most important facts in this report?

R Reflective question – this checks in with how we feel about the situation or the facts. It focuses us on the personal internal reaction. I think of it as the heart question – what emotions or feelings do we have.

  • What surprised you in the presentation?
  • What challenged your thinking?
  • Where have you been frustrated by the process?
  • What’s it like to be in this situation?

I Interpretive question – these questions aim to examine the meaning, the values and the significance of the topic. Interpretive questions provide the opportunity to draw out the significance of the O and the R. For me it’s the gut question – what does this mean for me?

  • What does this mean for the organisation
  • What challenges need to be resolved?
  • What are the key messages in the workshop?
  • What alternatives are worth considering?

D Decisional question – aim to bring a resolve to the conversation, a consensus, create an action plan or steps forward.

  1. What will you differently as a result of this workshop?
  2. What is the first step?
  3. What kind of future situations could these learnings be applied to?
  4. What would you do differently next time?

It is particularly important not to overlook the impact of the reflective questions – the feeling and emotions when we are making a decision. We are comfortable dealing with logic and often go straight from facts to interpretation without dealing with the  feelings as we perceive them to be more challenging to quantify.  Feelings and emotion are an important part of decision making and when overlooked actions are often not followed through on or decisions are regretted later.

For more information on the ORID I highly recommend Brian Stanfields, The Art of Focused Conversation – 100 Ways to Access Group Wisdom in the Workplace, (2000) published by The Canadian Institute of Cultural Affairs. My well worn copy has been a valuable facilitation and coaching resource.

Making happy sheets happy!

2013-10-15 16.02.21Evaluation sheets are often called “happy sheets”… often there isn’t anything “happy” about them! Participants groan and instead of leaving the workshop energised and reflecting of a great workshop they leave with a form to complete and a groan.

Evaluation is critical for the facilitator: to report to management, improve our skills, complete a project report, further develop the workshop etc. How can we lighten the process and make the happy sheets happy?

I thought I would share some of the techniques we have been using and would love to hear some ideas from others.

Make the evaluation a group activity. Write up 4 or 5 targeted evaluation questions on pieces of flip chart and put them up around the room. Divide the group into groups of 3 or 4 and ask them to discuss and complete the pages. A simple advantage of this is movement – often workshops involve a lot of sitting, getting people up helps the blood flow and increasing thinking. Everyone will remember different aspects of the workshop and have different perspectives, groups discussion allows the workshop to be reviewed by a team and further deepen some of the learnings.

If flips charts aren’t an option, or the rooms size won’t enable moving around, I often ask people to work with the person sitting beside them and complete the evaluation sheet together. Once again the discussion adds to the depth of feedback.

A dart board approach can be used where people rate various aspects of the workshop by putting a cross on a dart board – with the bulls eye  meaning “the workshop was spot on”. A dart board can be drawn up on a flip chart at the front of the room and everyone files past and completes it. Once again some movement and interest at the end helps to keep the energy levels up.

A quick method with a larger group that works well with the sticky wall is ask participants to write their expectation on a piece of A5 paper at the beginning of the workshop, at the end they take their expectation off the wall and comment on how well this has been met.

A final tip is to ensure there is sufficient time in the agenda to carry out the evaluation effectively – don’t rush it or make it the final activity. Finish off with a closing comment or brief activity that leaves participants with a sense of energy so they head home saying “Wow that was a great workshop!”

How do you make evaluations “happy”? Please post or email me your ideas and I can include them in another blog.

I can be emailed on  jeanette@agconsulting.com.au

May 2014 bring all you hope for!

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