Thursday, 8 July 2010

Tips to Enhance your Learning Experience


When you attend a training course you hope to improve your knowledge and skills on the subject matter in question so that you can use your newfound competence to do your job better, and potentially enhance your career prospects. No matter how good training is, there are ways in which you can make the most out of the learning experience. The following tips are based on my experience of delivering and evaluating training. They should help you to retain what you learn on your training course and thus enable implementation of the learning in your day to day tasks.

1. Pre-training preparation
It is worth taking some time before you go on the course to think about exactly why you are going on the training and what you hope to get out of it. This means that you arrive at the training with clear expectations and can make sure that these are met. It also gets you thinking about the subject matter in terms of what you already know, providing a good starting point for improving your knowledge. Even if you have been ‘volunteered’ for the course you will still want to get the most out of the time you invest in attending so some preparation will pay off.

2. Take notes in your own words
How many times have you attended a presentation where the presenter says ‘Don’t worry, you don’t need to write anything down, there are handouts’? Research has shown that making some notes in your own words will help you to retain what you have learned. This doesn’t mean that you have to write down everything that you hear. Simply take down some quick notes about the main points of the presentation. The important thing is that it is in your words. This will help you to retain what has been said. Also, reading through these notes later will help you to remember the content.

3. Ask questions
Throughout your training it is important that you have a clear understanding of the content, so don’t be afraid to ask questions. You are in a learning environment so you are not expected to have the answers. Most trainers will encourage questions since it gives an opportunity for interaction and allows them to gauge how well their training is working.

4. Participate fully in the training
Most training events will include some type of session where you get a chance to do something other than just listen to the trainer. This may be in form of exercises, discussions, case studies, workshops, group exercises etc. These sessions allow you to apply what you have learned so try to throw yourself into them to get the most out of the experience. If you find the session is a bit uncomfortable (role-play springs to mind) then try to focus on what you want to get from the training.

5. Review what you have learned
At the end of the training you will probably summarise what you have learned with the trainer and may have an assessment to measure the learning. This review of the main points of the training is very useful for helping you to retain your new knowledge and skills. You should also use this review to visualise how you will apply your learning when back in work. If you can plan how you are going to use the training then it is more likely to happen.

6. Apply learning as soon as possible
When you get back to work look through all the notes associated with the course and remember the material that was covered. Then try to apply the learning. This will reinforce the learning so that you are less likely to forget.

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