Ask most participants on a Train the Trainer course to describe what makes for a good training workshop, they almost always respond that it should be interesting. And then, when asked what makes a course interesting – they come up with what I call peripheral factors such as an enthusiastic and lively trainer who can communicate well, or someone who uses clear slides, etc. Very few, about 1 in 50, mention that a seminar should be relevant – and that it should offer numerous opportunities to engage with the material in realistic situations.
Relevance is a crucial element in seminar design – as it enables trainees to establish connections between what they’re learning and the real world. When learning is relevant, your participants will be more inspired, motivated, and retain information better. In this article, we will examine the significance of relevance in education and its effect on learners, as well as the importance of hands-on practice for learning skills.
First and foremost, relevance in education, especially in adult education, helps learners to recognize the practical application of the knowledge they are acquiring. When they understand how what they are learning can be used in real-life scenarios, it becomes more meaningful and memorable for them. For example, in a negotiation skills seminar, teaching participants that close to 50 of experienced negotiators will use hard-ball negotiation tactics against them (forceful, competitive, and uncompromising – and not use the softer Harvard Negotiation Method) will help them comprehend the importance of learning how to respond to a hard-ball approach.
Moreover, relevance in education also boosts critical thinking skills. When learners are exposed to real-world problems, they are forced to think critically and problem-solve, which helps them become more self-sufficient learners. This skill is critical for success in the workplace and in life, as learners will be able to apply what they have learned in their seminars to real work-life situations.
Relevance in the training classroom also improves learner motivation and engagement. Trainers need to articulate clearly how exactly what their seminar participants are learning applies to their interests and career goals. This will motivate them to engage more closely with the material being presented and it will reduce boredom. On the other hand, when learners are exposed to information and skills training that are not relevant to their lives, they almost always disengage with the material being presented.
It is also very important for adult learners to get sufficient hands-on practice when learning a skill. Teaching theory is essential, but it is limited. A successful seminar also needs numerous hands-on practice opportunities to bring to life the skills being learned. There is nothing more effective to anchoring learning – than practice. The mantra here is practice, practice and practice.
In conclusion, relevance and hands-on practice are both critical aspects of education at every level – and especially with adult learning. Relevance helps learners to recognize the practical application of their education, develop critical thinking skills, improve motivation and engagement, reduce boredom and disinterest – while hands-on practice, brings learning to life and reinforces the theory. By incorporating both relevance and hands-on practice into a Train the Trainer Workshop, trainers will be more effective – and leaners much more interested and engaged.