Learn, Unlearn, Rethink, Relearn, Innovate and Survive

Adult Learning Principles by Nicole Legault

 “Leadership should be born out of understanding the needs of those who would be affected by it.”

– Marian Anderson

In my roles as senior project manager, change consultant, marketing leader, coach and mentor, I use something called andragogy (adult learning theory) to manage and lead because I have seen its effectiveness. I thought it would be a great blog topic, so please, read on!

Throughout my professional life, I spent time designing various formats of training about topics that included marketing, identifying and adapting to social styles, emotional intelligence, repackaging a new improved client service model, how to ask for referrals, business and marketing planning, new customer acquisition, retention, social media and more.

The process of designing training modules is about working to ensure the content is engaging and adding value for the intended audience and providing them with what they need so they will adopt the new change program. When classes are written and created, the blended approaches are different for each medium. For example, content will be written differently for an e-learning self-study, vs. classroom or live web-ex conferencing.

The andragogy method leverages problem solving and collaboration and levels the playing field between learners and trainers. The six principles of adult learning theory asserts that adults are:

  • Internally motivated and self-directed
  • Experienced and bring our knowledge to the learning platform
  • Engaged when the information is relevant to our background
  • Goal oriented – motivated by intrinsic and extrinsic factors
  • Practical and need to know why they are learning the content
  • Learners who place value on being respected

For years I consulted and coached franchised business owners to help them adopt new behaviors into their practices. We did this using a structured yet flexible approach by installing repeatable and predictable processes into their businesses. Through coaching and the leadership development process, my clients learned about knowledge transfer through applying a process that looked something like this: Learn, unlearn, rethink, relearn, innovate and survive. I challenged them to step outside of old ways of thinking and to embrace unfamiliar territory. Success means we practice new behaviors until they feel normal and when we began working together, we would contract for what the behavior outcomes would look like.

While it sounds simple, it is a frightening concept because it is natural for people to resist change. It takes courage to embrace uncertainty by looking fear in the eye and pushing forward.  Coaching people through resistance management plans, I can say the greatest victories I have seen came when people chose to take a little risk that led to success and when that happened, we celebrated.

There is diversity in learning, we all discover and grab onto ideas and concepts differently. People absorb data in their own way, and when we take that diversity into account coupled with andragogy (adult learning theory), the results will lead to increased end-user adoption and better organizational change readiness, rewarding components for learners, trainers and leaders.

Thank you for visiting my blog. Please share what you think about using and applying this process into your leadership style?

This infographic was created by Nicole Legault, who has a blog called “Flirting with e-learning.

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Why is Adult Learning Theory Important in Training?

I have spent years writing and delivering training across many different mediums. I also taught others how to be effective in the classroom. To be a good trainer, it is important to understand the difference between traditional vs. adult learning theory because it can make a difference in what students will take away from the experience. It looks something like this:

Traditional Learning Model (think elementary school)

  1. One way information flow
  2. Every aspect of the learning process belongs to the instructor
  3. Learning is focused on content and logic
  4. Motivation is external

Adult Learning Theory – six assumptions tell us that adults:

  1. Need to know the goal – why they should learn something prior to investing time
  2. Want to be responsible for their own learning
  3. Want to build on personal experiences in the learning process
  4. Have a strong desire for self-directed learning
  5. Are willing to put energy into things they believe will help solve a problem
  6. Are motivated internally and have a natural desire to learn

Having knowledge of the information above can make a difference in how we write and deliver training. I have learned it isn’t always about giving answers, but about asking questions so that your audience comes to the conclusions that you are seeking. It becomes their ideas and that is where the real education takes place.

How to make training more engaging:

  1. Ask what the audience knows about the topic. What do they hope to get out of the session? The value here is it allows you to tailor the presentation so everyone gets what they need
  2. Engage learners throughout the process, it ought to be a conversation, not a preaching session
  3. Ask random questions to each person to get individual experiences and insight. Sharing personal stories makes the learning relevant to learner’s personal situations and how they make connections.
  4. In the classroom, use different mediums (Writing on a board, having others tally a number or write examples down, small group activity etc.)
  5. For Web-Ex sessions: have participants write on the screen, or give them control of the session so you can talk them through how to use a new website or system. Let them write their answers on the screen. When waiting for people to answer a question, tell them to “raise their hands” when done
  6. Have fun with it, begin or end with trivia questions, the word of the day, fun facts or interesting photos.

Adult learning theory is important because as we lead people through change, it is imperative to remember that individuals process information differently. Using various blended methods to include those above will reinforce the learning, which will lead to increased end-user adoption. Reinforcement and sustaining the new change.

Please share more thoughts below! Thank you for visiting my blog, I look forward to hearing from you.

More about Kakie Fitzsimmons

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