I recently had an experience that made me think about the power that relevance plays in the instructional design and delivery of training programs, especially when the conditions are not optimal. As trainers, it’s not uncommon to work in conditions that are less than ideal. I’m sure we’ve all experienced rooms that are too hot, too cold, too small, and/or resources that are minimal or maybe even non-existent. I recently had one of these experiences, and what struck me the most was the participant’s reaction.
Typically, in these situations, people tend to complain, yet despite the limited resources and the cramped environment, the participants in this particular training session were fully engaged and ready to work. I was moved by their commitment, enthusiasm, and thirst for knowledge. They were also going through major organizational changes and had a lot of interruptions, which may have added to their frustrations. However, they continued to express their excitement about how timely the training was for them and how they would be able to implement what they were learning right away. This experience highlights the importance of doing a thorough training needs analysis to identify true training needs so that instructional designers can design courses that maximize the relevance for the learner.
I can’t help but also be reminded of my teaching experiences in South Africa, even though they were on a different level and also dealt with cultural differences. I remember there were very few resources, holes in the blackboard, and how hot it was since there was no air-conditioning. Many of the students walked miles to get to school, oftentimes barefoot. Nevertheless, they were fully engaged, always polite, respectful and very eager to learn.
The common thread in both experiences was that, with relevant content that can be used immediately, the learners will engage and respond favorably even when the conditions are not ideal. If the content is not relevant and beneficial they will tune out even in the most ideal conditions. While good conditions contribute to the success of a training program, relevance is the key!
Check out Langevin’s Training Needs Analysis workshop to gain a solid foundation in enhancing the relevance of your training sessions!