What happens when your technical experts get in front of your audience?
Do the participants:
(a) learn a lot and leave confident in their own competence?
(b) enjoy the stories and consider it good entertainment?
(c) leave in awe of the expert’s knowledge and skill?
The answer is probably not (a).
Unless your technical experts understand adult learning principles enough to set the participants up for successful learning, you are simply wasting everyone’s precious time and limited money. In this economy, how can you justify that?
Don’t your employees need specific technical skills to effectively do their jobs? Don’t you want them to get those skills and leave your training programs confident that they can capably use those skills?
Unfortunately, despite many years of research into how the brain works and how people learn, most technical training only uses lecture. So, what’s wrong with lecture?
It depends on what the desired learning outcome is.
If the desired outcome is an awareness of and exposure to new knowledge, lecture will achieve that goal.
If the desired outcome is new learning or a change in attitude or behavior, different instructional methods will be necessary.
There are six progressive levels, or building blocks, of learning. The first is knowledge, which can be transmitted through lecture or audiovisual aids.
The second level is comprehension. Without comprehension, knowledge is meaningless. Comprehension is also essential for affecting attitudinal change. Instructional methods such as case studies, role plays or games (methods that involve as many senses as possible) enable the learners to articulate their attitudes and experience their impact on others.
If attitudinal change is desired, it will not be accomplished through lecture alone. A good story can engage the senses, but the learners still need to do something with those feelings.
The third level of learning is application, which is essential for changing behavior. Hands on, problem solving, or simulation activities (again, methods that involve as many senses as possible) enable the learners to practice what they have learned. This is the only way they will develop confidence in their new competence. It cannot be accomplished through lecture.
The fourth level is analysis, where the learners can break down what they have learned and sort it into subcategories. The fifth level is evaluation, where the learners apply criteria to make judgments. And the sixth level is creation, where the learners create something entirely new.
Introductory technical training should aim for comprehension if attitudinal change is desired, or application if behavioral change is required.
Intermediate technical training and basic refresher training should aim for application or analysis. Advanced technical training should aim for analysis, evaluation, or even creation.
As already discussed, lecture alone is insufficient to accomplish these levels of learning. So, unless your training goal is to simply provide exposure to new information, without any concern for actual skill-building learning, your technical expert’s training methods are going to have to change.