What does it mean to deliver training and facilitate learning?

 Nov 16, 2016

The two terms often imply some difference in style and approach.

  • When we talk about delivering training, the emphasis is on the facilitator rather than the learners.
  • Conversely, to speak of facilitation is to place the primary focus on the learners, where it belongs.

So what does it mean to facilitate? According to the Macquarie dictionary:

To facilitate is to assist a person by making something easier or less difficult. Facilitation may help someone move forward with an action or a process. In our case, the process is learning.

Facilitators no longer use the 'stand and deliver' style of training. When facilitating, the goal is not to take the role of the expert, showing how clever and knowledgeable you are. We are now facilitating groups rather than directing and instructing them.

There are two functions that a facilitator carries out: content facilitation and process facilitation. We will now consider the specific actions a facilitator takes in regard to both of these functions.

Facilitators help the group cover the content by:

  • Presenting new information and material for the group to consider
  • Clarifying confusing statements
  • Identifying themes or common threads in a discussion
  • Summarising, documenting (on whiteboards, or butcher's paper) and organising the ideas generated by the group
  • Setting tasks and activities for the group to explore

Facilitators help the group with the process by:

  • Role modelling appropriate behaviours
  • Making sure everyone gets a chance to participate and provide input
  • Monitoring group process and performance
  • Providing additional guidance, as required
  • Pointing out feelings that are interfering with the group's work
  • Helping members to express and deal with conflict

Reflect on your past experience as a learner. Who were the teachers, trainers, lecturers or facilitators who really stand out in your mind? What was significant about the way these people acted? What facilitation behaviours did they demonstrate? What was the impact of these behaviours on you and the group?

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About the Author:

Stan Thomas  

Stan has been working in a professional training capacity for over 15 years and possesses a wealth of knowledge in the areas of adult education gained through both formal study and practical training delivery both nationally and internationally. As the Professional Development Manager for New Horizons Melbourne, Stan is responsible for the delivery, quality control and enhancement of existing and new programs at New Horizons.

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