Sharon Bowman, author of many books on Active Learning such as Teaching from the Back of the Room, suggests that: “The person doing the most talking – or moving or writing – in a class or training is doing the most learning.”
The more a learner just sits back and watches the course / learning facilitator talk, write or move about, she says, the less engaged they are. The more passive your learner, the less they actually learn; and the less they will remember the little they did learn.
Neuroplasticity and brain research corroborate this. Learning is a dynamic process of building and rebuilding new neural networks to develop meaningful, internalized skills. The building of neural networks is time consuming, and the best learning experiences are designed to support learners to build new neural pathways through a variety of learning processes.
A facilitative instructor, according to the ASTD Facilitation Training Basics series, is one who creates learner-centered teaching environments and processes. In other words, an effective facilitator of learning:
- Does less telling, encouraging learners to actively participate in their learning through a variety of exercises designed to tap multiple learning and processing styles.
- Does more design work upfront to craft assignments and activities to help students learn and master learning objectives through active engagement rather than passive listening or watching.
- Gets learners working together collaboratively for mutual learning, remembering that learning is essentially a social activity.
- Fosters a climate that encourages learners to take responsibility for their own learning.
The field of group process facilitation has much to offer that of active learning. If you are keen to applying your facilitation expertise to creating rich and powerful active learning environments, bring our empowering learning program in-house: The Facilitative Instructor: Best Practices for Active Learning