How do recognized 'adult learning theories' such as those by Malcolm Knowles apply to the 9-1-1 environment? Let's discuss how and when and so what.
Adults become ready to learn something when, as Knowles explained, "they experience a need to learn it in order to cope more satisfyingly with real-life tasks or problems."
Issue #1: Have you ever had a trainee FREEZE? You thought they could handle it, they were willing to take it on, they did great in practice – but then – mmpphhff. There are a number of causes for freezing, stumbling or performing badly without warning.
The #1 freezing cause is "Being asked to 'multi task'- without having all the 'tasks' of the multi things down". In other words, they can type, they can talk, they can enter information into CAD – however ONE of these skills is not 'natural' YET (or may never be ready to be integrated at the level needed).
If any ONE of these skills is lacking or not at the level required to perform in auto mode- the brain freezes – like the computer trying to 'catch up' when downloading. The good news is that this is not necessarily a bad thing.
So What?: Knowles stated that experience (including error) provides the basis for learning activities. So after 'freezing' happens, the trainee has indeed experienced the result of not having all the skills 'down'. Now the adult learner is better prepared to isolate and practice the area the trainer identifies as inadequate (typing? CAD? questioning? call types?) because the NEED is more urgent and experienced.
Particularly useful is for the trainer to explain to the trainee this concept of multi-tasking being a multiple of learned and skilled tasks being automatically performed due to a certain needed skill level in many areas.
Adults do better with some self directed learning; involvement in the planning of learning activities and evaluation of their progress. Adults respond better to internal versus external motivators.
Issue 2: When a trainer is ill or out, the training is often stalled. Often substitutes don't know where the trainee is or conflict with current training methods. Instead you will want these days to be productive and useful. How about a "Contingency Training Day Packet".These packets are opened only in the event the trainer is not able to be present. These packets could be training events such as tours, essays, web projects, interviews. 911 call reviews or self evaluations.
The packet may have a variety of 'projects' that can be completed that or each day. The projects should be designed to allow the trainee some choice in what they will complete. For accountability have your trainee fill out a timetable for the day(s) activities.
"Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire." Yeats
Your Trainers Are Also Adult Learners
I hear, "The Comm Center isn't like any other learning environment!" And therefore adult learning concepts don't apply? Well let's just say that adults are adults no matter 'where' they are learning. Trainers can discover more about learning so they are better facilitators of learning as opposed to 'responsible' for the adult's learning. Knowing more will allow trainers to create more impactful training events while identifying potential blocks and needs pre-floor.
Check out these (10) topics on Adult Learning and download one FREE to begin your in house Train the Trainer program. Each of the narrated Power Points addresses an item of importance to the Comm Center trainer. The really good thing is – you own it – it can be loaded on your intranet for your in house eSeminar anytime day or night for one or more trainers. In addition, we would suggest a discussion, dialogue, QA, feedback or take advantage of the self directed learning projects designed on the presentation for the sessions – after all, aren't your trainers also Adult Learners?