Trainer centric or tutor centric learning programmes?

An interesting discussion took place this week between a number of trainers, me being one of them. The question we debated passionately was that of course design…..should it be learner centred or tutor centred?

Clearly learner centred has to be our main goal as trainers because when people are engaged in the learning & can see the personal benefit they will be more focused & involved in the session.  So then you think about assessment which we have to do to

a) check that learning is taking place during the session (aka formative assessment)

b) end of session assessment (aka summative assessment)

Both of these can be done based on the input you & the delegates have been engaged in during the session.  The difficulty comes in your pre-course assessment.

The purpose of pre-course assessment is to gauge the level at which your learners are so that you can design a course that meets their needs. What happens if the pre-course assessment is only done on Day 1 of the programme which has already been designed?

Here we have the classic training dilemma. How do you advertise & sell a course? We all know that the course should be designed around the needs of the learner but we don’t know this so you, the trainer, has to decide on the content and learning outcomes based on your own skills & knowledge.  Then you advertise the programme and when you meet the delegates on day one you may realise that you will have to flex your skills and knowledge up or down or both based on the knowledge of the people in the group.

In an ideal world trainers would like to run a course that is totally based on the learners needs and thus the first session of the programme would involve identifying their needs. Then it would be up to the skills of the trainer to then deliver a suitable programme to meet those needs.  However how would you sell that? Hence the dilemma that we have as trainers!!

In my opinion the more emphasis that is put on achieving set criteria the more trainer centric the learning gets which reduces the creativity and flexibility for the trainer.  More importantly it may mean that the training that the learner is given is not appropriate to their needs so the whole event may have been a waste of time and money.

So as a manager invest some of your time at the front end of this process correctly identifying the needs of your people and then talk to the trainer to ensure that the course will meet those needs….it will make it more rewarding for all of us involved!

Thanks for your time, Suzanne Unsworth

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