In early December, I posted / ranted about how I believe there is too much lecturing or presenting being labelled training. If you haven’t already, check it out Who Here Wants to Listen to Me Talk for 8 Hours?

As the provincial chapter chair for the Canadian Society for Training and Development (CSTD), the national association for workplace training, I spend more time than most speaking with instructional designers, facilitators, and other professionals about how to teach effectively. Whether you are a subject matter expert who has been asked to train or an experienced education professional, mixing up the methods we use to teach is always a challenge.

Here are some of my favourite, positive ways to get creative in the classroom (or online):

* Connect your energizer to the content. For instance, the standard introduce the person next to you activity becomes introduce the person next to you and share the top three questions they want addressed in the training. Compile all challenges and review at the end of training to ensure they are covered.

* Ask learners to bring their laptops, so they can answer a series of questions by searching the internet.

* Give each small group a different question or case study. Have them post their solution in point form on flip chart paper. Then give the groups five minutes at each station as they rotate around each case or question and make comments or suggestions on the other groups’ work.

* Encourage people to switch groups, meet new people, or network by passing out mixed cards. Blue is one group, green is another, etc. Or sort by birthdays (not years, just months.) Or place stickers or marks on their name cards before class, and have them look for others with the same stickers or marks.

* Ask each group to review a different section of the user guide or job aid. Then have them develop a short-answer quiz for the rest of the learners. Or have them create a word mneumonic, like every good boy deserves fudge helps music students remember the notes on a scale. Or a physical movement or cheer.

* Use listening checklists or questions so groups are watching a demo or video to keep learners engaged

What are your favourite strategies for mixing it up in training?




  1. Jacqueline House on January 2, 2013 at 5:07 pm

    Creative training methods shows great appreciation for the learner and the learner’s time. Many trainings that I have experienced were not fully realized because of a preoccupation with the many tasks on my desk that were going to be delayed yet another day. Having a trainer that took the time to fully engage the learners always made the time more emjoyable and more beneficial. Thank you. Jacqueline House

    • Catherine on January 3, 2013 at 2:29 pm

      You’re so right. When people ask me how to engage people because they’re looking at smart phones or tablets for their email, it always comes back to being actively engaged at the task at hand, not the lecture at the front of the room.

  2. Corinne Rodrigues on January 3, 2013 at 12:03 pm

    Reading your post made me want to get back into the excitement of training all over again. I loved to give learners challenging tasks like the ones you’ve mentioned. Group work always creates a buzz. Getting groups to enact situations can also bring about a lot of participation and learning.

  3. Nadia on February 18, 2013 at 2:46 pm

    How to calculate the content of the course, you’re writing now? It depends how much time you have to practice and how many “students” in the group. Each exercise takes time, and in fact, each participant has to go with the final phenomenon! If the group is large, you can either do less exercise, or split into groups, practicing skills in parallel with several “students” at the same time. And then you immediately ask the room: how training room options allow you to organize work groups, so that they do not interfere with each other, and you can control the process and to intervene with corrective actions.

    Very effective, especially for the novice coach, is the technique of writing training with stickers (colored sticky leaves of different colors and sizes). Take a set of stickers and assign each color option the function. Let’s say you have identified a red mini-lectures, yellow – role-playing, blue – training, green – jokes and talk about abstract topics, purple – discussion and so on right now on these pieces of paper briefly describe each of your planned learning processes.

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