Saturday, April 28, 2012

Managing Resistance in Adult Learners

Just like getting enough rest, washing your hands often, and eating a healthy diet can help prevent a cold, prevention through good training design and delivery can go a long way in heading off resistance with challenging training participants.
Following is a roundup of five prevention strategiess that can help you manage resistance in the-long-time-in-their career-and-tired-of-training folks, the-law-says-I-have-to-be-here-court-ordered folks, or the my-boss-made-me-come folks.
  1. Get off the pedestal early and honor your audience: Affirm their expertise, thank them for their time, assert your intent to validate and utilize their experience and to create an environment in which they will have access to and interaction with others who do what they do so that they can exchange ideas, be refreshed in a community of their peers, extend their practice, and pick up some additional tips for their toolbox.

  2. Save your I'm a star stories for family and share your funny self-effacing stories:Avoid stories that make you look like a super star and instead share the more hair-raising, funny, boy-did-I-learn-a-lesson stories. It levels the playing field, it bonds you through shared experiences, it gives you credibility as having been around the block in your shared field, while making you more human and probably a lot more tolerable, likeable even, to your indentured audience.

  3. Create a Community Agreement: This is a more palatable version of "ground rules" because it is created together and elicited with: "What will help you be comfortable and get your needs met today? What will help us work effectively together?" As a member of the community you can add your non-negotiables as well as your promises such as, "Start and end on time", and "Take good care of yourselves," i.e. have a snack, pace, stretch, use the restroom, stand at the back even if it isn't break. Then invite everyone to be Keepers of the Agreement. Give an example that uses yourself as the violator of the agreement by saying, "So if you notice that I'm not starting or ending on time, please feel free to remind me of our agreement." The nice thing about community agreements is that someone will always suggest things like, Be open minded, Be respectful, Avoid cross-talk, so when someone isn't doing those things, you have permission to remind them of the agreement, as do others.

  4. Spend time on introductions and letting people share what they want out of the day. If you have 10-20 participants you can hear from everyone. More than that and you can ask for folks to raise their hand as you call out work contexts with which they identify themselves. For learning goals and hopes for the day, you can have them share them with the person sitting next to them and then ask for a sampling from the group so that you know what people are expecting and you can better meet their needs. If you pay careful attention (especially if you have them write them down and post them) you can direct your training, illustrations and examples in the direction of their expressed needs and desires while staying within the context of the larger, advertised training outcome.

  5. Attend to adult learner characteristics in your design: Use a variety of interactive activities, give time for folks to share their examples and expertise, deliver material through different modalities and engage at least 2 senses during every activity, and always give real-life application exercises. Adult learners want to solve a problem in their lives, enhance their status or self-esteem so you'll go a long way in preventing problems by helping the adult learners in your training accomplish these goals.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Workshop in the Wild

By living in the big city, one has the advantage of having all of society's urban amenities just steps from your front door. But every so often, it is wonderful to escape into the countryside, where fresh air, clean lakes, and peace and quiet replace the concrete jungle of cars, crowds and hustle. Some urban dwellers are lucky to be able to get out to the countryside on a regular basis. For others, with busy work schedules and regular family and social obligations, finding the time and means to get out of the city is much more difficult. This is especially true if one is balancing work and studying at the same time.
But what if there were a way to take advantage of the wilderness as part of an education? Nature is not only a wonderful environment to learn in, due to its tranquility and absence of distractions. It is also a great learning tool in itself. There are numerous valuable skills to learn in the countryside, covering everything from learning to identify which plants and trees are edible or medicinal, to learning overall survival skills living in the wilderness.
Now, it is safe to assume that the average person, or even the student of nature, does not actually require wilderness survival skills barring some grand urban catastrophe. Nevertheless, continuing education programs that offer non-credit workshops in the wilderness can be practical for everyday living, not to mention loads of fun. Most importantly, the experience gained from a real wilderness course is one hundred per cent irreplaceable, meaning these things cannot be taught in traditional classrooms, nor can they be learned in books.
Here are some activities one can have in a wilderness workshop:
· Building shelter: learning the proper set-up of tenting gear, or even creating shelter from natural materials 
· Long-distance hiking and trekking: learn about appropriate packing, nourishment, and weather protection for extended journeys on foot, as well as navigation with or without a compass 
· Plant and Tree identification: learn to distinguish edible plants from harmful and poisonous ones, and learn to use plant life for first aid purposes 
· Fishing: learn techniques for proper fishing for recreation or consumption, how to properly prepare fish for eating, as well as conservation rules for preserving water wildlife 
· Animal Safety: what to do in case confronted with aggressive or dangerous animals, such as bears or wolves 
· Fire-making: effective techniques for safe and controlled fires, what to do in case of accidental fire spread 
· Water-Procurement: how to locate water, as well as treat and filter it if necessary