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Teaching Adults in the Workplace (Part 1)

Training and development is always a factor that is noted as a priority in improving staff satisfaction. There are a variety of training mediums, which include but are not limited to formal college and university courses, internal corporate programs for both technical and soft skills, e-learning programs, and one-to-one coaching. These programs are usually offered during regular work hours and employees are often granted “x” amount of hours per year to attend these training sessions in a workplace.  When comparing the workplace classroom to the college classroom, the following items are the main differentiating factors between teaching adults in a workplace setting and those in a college setting:

  1. The attendance at class is usually better in college
  2. Sessions at work usually involve more discussion and experiential learning
  3. The classrooms are always better equipped in college
  4. Evaluations are immediate after the workplace training; therefore, the PDCA cycle can be easily implemented for improvement purposes
  5. The transfer of knowledge is easier to assess in the college setting

I will deal with the first element, attendance, in this initial post. In my next post I will look at the second and third elements, and in the last post of this series I will address the last two.

The attendance at class is usually better in college:

Although attendance at most courses are “at will” in college or in the corporate environment, there seems to be greater attendance in the college classroom than the corporate classroom.  The cost of tuition in higher education institutions may impact attendance as well as the fact that failing a course may lead to repeat work, or worse, forfeiting the opportunity to graduate when planned.  These are motivating factors that lead a college student to class. In the corporate world, the motivation is far less tangible. We have three types of learners who attend learning opportunities at work; these include:

  1. The “life-long learner”, eager to be part of any opportunity to exchange ideas and gain a nugget of knowledge to apply to work life and personal life
  2. The “I’m so grateful for a break learner”, the individual who will attend any event offered just to be relieved from the monotony of his or her daily job, regardless of the intellectual gifts that can be acquired, the individual is there to enjoy the time away of his or her routine
  3. “I’m a prisoner for the day learner”, the individual who is attending the session because he or she was told to attend, the individual does not intend to learn anything new nor will he or she enjoy the experience, that all depends if he or she is being paid for the time spent in class

In corporate settings, even the most dedicated learners can be distracted by technology, which often means sessions are interrupted and many learners enter and exit the classroom. These distractions can be frustrating for even the most experienced facilitators. The flexibility of the instructor is key in ensuring the learning experience is as positive as possible for all attendees, regardless of their will to be there. It is the facilitator’s responsibility to engage participants and minimize the negative impacts that disruptions or late attendees may cause.

Check in next week for Part 2, where Botter will explore the better equipped classrooms of college, and the experiential experience of the workplace.