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Planning a Training or #YALILearns Session? Check Out These Tips from Marcella Simon
August 31, 2016

Marcella Simon at laptop computer (YALI Network)
(YALI Network)

Members of the YALI Network tuned in to Facebook August 25–26 for a chat with education and training expert Marcella Simon, who answered their questions on training tactics, goals and styles. Many of these tips can also be used to help you plan your own #YALILearns session.

In her blog post, Simon outlined the need to approach training by answering these questions:

  • Why are you taking the time and effort to train people?
  • Who are the people you are targeting for your training event?
  • What do you want the audience to have learned by the end of the experience?

In her conversations with Network members, Simon went into greater detail on these and other points. Here are some helpful tips she gave:

  • Since there are less expensive ways to deliver information than training, the first question to ask when designing a training course is, “Why are we doing this training?” Training is usually a solution to a problem such as improving performance, introducing something new, or changing people’s attitudes toward something.
  • Use outside expertise when you can in designing your #YALILearns training. Specialists can help you create a curriculum that is well-organized and follows sound educational principles, and perhaps even help create engaging graphics to illustrate points.
  • From the beginning, consider what a successful#YALILearns training program will look like to you or your organization. See if you can state a specific goal or goals. Then measure the results 30 days after the#YALILearns session has happened.
  • Good training, like with #YALILearns, requires energy. “It helps to have two trainers so one can sit down and rest while the other is working. It is also a good idea to let the participants do most of the work through small group discussions and applying knowledge, then reporting back to the larger group.”
  • If your#YALILearns training program is aimed at women’s empowerment, consider inviting only women so they feel more comfortable and confident speaking openly and support each other. Teach them skills that they can teach to the community to emphasize their importance.
  • Training does not have to be expensive or require technology to succeed. You can use flipcharts, whiteboards or drawings to illustrate points. You can also design games or exercises for the participants to discover information without any technology, such as scavenger hunts or a competition where two teams answer questions and points are added up.
  • There are also ways to train people who lack formal education through drawings or illustrations. You can also ask the participants to draw pictures themselves to show they understand what you are telling them or get creative by hosting a debate or a contest for your audience where they need to demonstrate their skills or knowledge using the resources at hand. You can also tell stories to make a point using things they are familiar with in the environment, like plants or animals.
  • If you feel the conversation is deviating, keep your participants on track and steer their discussion back toward the topic by asking them questions. You can also ask them to take turns explaining the concepts they just learned to the others.
  • After the training event ends, it can be challenging to maintain group cohesion. You can develop a “community of practice” with those participants who share an interest or expertise. If they can’t share online, they could meet periodically to exchange resources and ideas and you could post the exchanges somewhere on- or offline.

Interested in learning more about #YALILearns? Learn how you can facilitate your own session on our #YALILearns page.