Traditional education was premised upon the “master and apprentice” model, where the expert was the holder of wisdom and the instruction only went in one direction. Today, we understand the importance of two-way communications between the teacher and the learners, but also recognise the value of the interactions that learners have with each other. To enhance the learning experience, trainers should look for a variety of interaction options using a combination of pair-shares, small group work and whole-group discussion. Following are some reasons for this:

  1. Participation – Learning is an active process and as such, learning anything involves participation. This provides the buy-in necessary to connect with content and reinforce practical skills. Trainers need to promote learner interaction in order to help the learners succeed and to feel part of the process.
  2. Maximising practice time – Learners need to practise as much as possible if they are to be successful. Interaction through pair and group work maximises the opportunities to practise and see things from multiple perspectives.
  3. Motivation – Motivation is a fundamental aspect of successful learning. Interaction gives learners the opportunity to use new learning and to measure their progress against the requirements. If trainers can create a safe environment where students can try things and learn from mistakes before heading back to the workplace, they will build confidence in what they have to apply. In turn, this leads to great motivation and commitment to take on more complex and sophisticated tasks.
  4. Mixed abilities – Pairing and grouping students appropriately in classes that have a wide variety of skill levels helps to equalise the group. Those with a lot of experience have an opportunity to affirm and reinforce the knowledge and skills and those with little experience can have access to extra help in addition to what is provided by the trainer. In this way, the interaction created leads to a more interesting and fulfilling learning experience for all concerned.
  5. The social aspect – Humans are social learners. The more involvement there is, the more likely they are to connect with and remember the content. Whereas, when there is less involvement retention is diminished. With the right interaction, trainers can create deeper, more meaningful learning experiences as well as creating more focused and engaged participants.

Here are 10 ways learners could be involved in the training:

  1. Agenda Voting
  2. Table discussions
  3. Pair Share
  4. Stand and Share
  5. Give one, get one
  6. Post-it share
  7. Whiteboard/poster collaboration
  8. Teach back
  9. Fill in the blanks
  10. Action Planning.

Learning is something that should be happening with the participants, not to the participants, so look for different ways to involve your learners to maximise both their engagement and retention. You’ll be glad you did!
By Marc Ratcliffe

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