How often have you gone on a training course and the trainer has asked everyone to share what they want to get out of it? How often have you sat there thinking, ‘I’ve no idea, I’m not even sure exactly what this course is about.’?
Maybe you sign up for a course because it sounds great, but you never quite find the time to work through the course?
We’ve all been on great training courses and taken loads of notes only to file them away and never think much more about it.
So how can you make sure you’re signing up to the right courses and how can you make sure you’ll actually implement what you learn?
Spending just a few minutes thinking about it before, during and after the course can make a huge difference. It could prevent you taking the wrong course. It could help you learn more deeply as you work through the course and it could mean that you actually put some of the ideas from the course into action.
Before your training
Have I chosen the right course?
Take a moment to think about whether this course (or resource) is the right one for you. Does it cover everything you want to learn? Is it aimed at your skill level or do you need to learn some of the basics first? Is the format right for you? Only then should you enrol and only then should you block out time on your calendar to work on it.
What do I want to get out of it?
This is a key question. That’s why so many trainers ask it at the beginning of a course! What do you want to learn? What do you want to be able to do afterwards? How will you implement what you learn? Asking yourself these questions not only ensures you’re on the right course, but also means that you’re sort of tuning in to what is important for you. When you get to those important sections of the course, you’ll be more likely to pay attention!
During your training
What do I need to do with this?
As you progress through your course, ask yourself what you need to do with each key point you learn. Do you need to find out more about that idea or try something out for yourself? Do you need to make an entry on your to-do list or schedule time in your calendar to practice something?
When will I review this?
Continue to ask yourself if a particular point needs to be reviewed later. This is important if it’s new to you or if it’s not crystal clear yet. Set a reminder to go back and review that section later on after the course has finished. Maybe it will all become clear the second time around or maybe you’ll have a better idea of the questions to ask to help you understand it more.
After your training
How good was it?
You’ll likely be asked to fill in some kind of feedback survey. This is useful for the trainer, but it’s also really useful for you. Did you enjoy the course? What did you like about it? What did you not like? This will help you to identify more suitable courses for yourself in the future.
What will you learn next?
Straight after a course is the perfect time to consider what you’ll learn next. Maybe there was something from that course that sparked an interest or showed you that you need to work on something a bit more. Maybe there was something that you still don’t fully understand and you want to take some more training on that subject. Maybe you got exactly what you needed and it’s time to review your personal development plan to decide what to work on next.
As John Dewey said,
“We do not learn from experience… we learn from reflecting on experience.”
These simple questions will make all the difference to your learning.
Think about what else you need to ask yourself before, during and after training to get more from it and learn better. Think about what you need to do to find time to reflect on training you've attended and make sure you're implementing all the things you said you would.
Try it and see what difference it makes!
Do you ask yourself any of these? If you do, tell us in the comments how it helps you. If you ask yourself something different, share that too!
Need some help remembering the questions? Why not use a learning journal?