I enjoy people-watching as I am resting between weight lifting sets at the gym. The sight that really makes me chuckle is watching people use the exercise bicycles. Many times I observe people who are more interested in reading their book, tablet, or smartphone than really putting forth the effort to ride the bike. Their minds are so engrossed with their devices their feet are barely moving! I always smile at this because I know that although they are moving their feet, they are not really benefitting from their workout.
They are really just wasting their time. Their heart is saying, “Really? Are you kidding me?” If you want the maximum cardiovascular and strength-gaining benefits from any workout, you have to do just that—work out! You must put forth genuine effort and full concentration.
Unfortunately, I sometimes see this situation in the classroom. A few people are putting forth the minimum amount of effort and sometimes they stare into their smartphones and put forth no effort at all! It takes work in the classroom, for both the participants and the instructor, for learning to occur and for the full benefits to happen. So how do we, as instructors, encourage people to put forth maximum effort and really dig into learning?
In our Instructional Techniques for New Instructors workshop we offer up these three instructional techniques:
1. Use small group activities often. When people are working in pairs, or groups of three or four, it is very difficult for an individual learner to zone out.
2. Design courses that are truly relevant to the learners’ jobs and have the instructor make this connection early on day one. If you waste the participant’s time with “fluff,” they will tune you out.
3. Make sure your training is fun! With attention spans getting shorter, it is important to keep your adult learners smiling and laughing so they stay engaged and enjoy learning.
So there you have it! Remember that some adult learners might want to take the path of least resistance, so be sure to challenge them and maximize their learning experience. It’s up to you to use a variety of instructional techniques to bring the course to life!