I spend a lot of my time promoting learning experiences and sometimes I get labeled (by others or myself) as a teacher, trainer or instructor. Sure, I used to be an instructor of language programming, a certified instructor for Borland products, a teacher of project management and since 2008, I’ve been a certified scrum trainer for the Scrum Alliance.
Since I’m passionate about learning experiences, I’ve invested a lot of energy developing my teaching, learning and facilitation skills. I have experimented with different approaches in my classes, from Presentation Zen to Training from the Back of the Room; and I think that I have been able to provide some value to the participants of my classes.
The facilitative trainer
I think that one of the main reasons behind my success as a trainer was because I became a facilitative trainer. But what does that really mean?
As a trainer, my primary role is to transfer specific knowledge to individual participants. This knowledge is a set of predefined content blended with my previous experiences and predictions. It forms the product of learning.
But as a trainer, I also need to manage the group, space and time. In essence, I should have some didactic skills to transfer knowledge in an effective way as it essentially forms the process of learning.
Being facilitative as a trainer means being more open to the product and/or the process of learning. Some notable examples:
- Allowing more room for interactions among and with the participants;
- Creating more interactive games, exercises and activities;
- Promoting an energising and inspiring environment;
- Ensuring that the table of contents can be adapted by the participants’ influence;
Facilitative trainers became the norm at the beginning of this century and they usually provide much more value than bureaucratic trainers, but being a facilitative trainer is not the same as being a facilitator.
The learning facilitator
A learning facilitator is needed when a group must construct knowledge, not acquire it. The facilitator tunes the process of learning and respects the capacity of that group in forging the answers to their own problem. As posed by Carl Rogers: “The facilitator is genuinely free of a desire to impose ready-made truths or to control the outcome”.
I tried several times to become a genuine facilitator during my training courses, but I didn’t succeed. Why? It’s simple:
a classroom is not the place for facilitators, the real world is.
That’s why we created the “learning shot” concept.
Swarm or hierarchy?
Learning shots are short events based on real-world problems. Training courses are events based on an expert’s/player’s proposal of solution.
A theme of a good learning shot, for example, is something like “How to become more productive” or “How to increase employee engagement”. These real problems.
On the other hand, a title of a training course is more like “Using Evernote to increase productivity” or “The Three-Factor Model of Engagement”.
In a learning shot the group creates the knowledge. It happens by swarm behaviour. The facilitator is there to use the right processes in order to promote sharing, collaborative building, healthy discussion and so on.
On a training course, the trainer is the one who transfers the expertise to the attendees. Sometimes he or she is facilitative and develops this process in a more interactive way. But it always happens through hierarchical behaviour.
Hence, it’s clear that nobody goes on a training course expecting to be facilitated. It is also true that nobody should go to a learning shot expecting to be trained.
Every jack to his trade
The Learning 1.0 Kingdom sounds like the perfect place for bureaucratic guidance by traditional teachers and knowledge holders who will define the questions and answers to be transferred to students.
The Learning 2.0 Kingdom is a pretty good place for facilitative trainers or consultants, who still own the answers, but promote more interaction among the attendees or clients.
But there is a place where questions and answers should be developed by practitioners with the support of a learning facilitator. This is what I usually call: the Learning 3.0 Kingdom, but you can just call it the real-world.
So, in which kingdom are you living? Who are you in the game?
The revolution of learning is underway and we’re all in! It’s just the beginning, which means: it’s the perfect time to take your seat.
If you want to feel what Learning 3.0 is, visit one of our learning shots or invite one of our awesome facilitators to run a shot in your company or city.
If you want to develop your facilitation skills either to become a learning facilitator or a more facilitative professional, come to Learning Camp. It’s a transformative experience, trust me!
And, of course, if you want to read more about Learning 3.0, pre-order now your copy of “How Creative Workers Learn”!