If it weren’t for this lovely bunch of people…. I would be out of a job!
I love the fact that learners come in such a huge variety, in terms of their preferences. As a trainer it would make my life a lot easier if they all learnt in the same way and that way suited my style of training. Having said that – wow it would be boring! Having that huge variety is what drives me to stay creative and think of new ways to engage a wide variety of learners. It has the knock on effect of keeping me interested and that keeps me passionate about the subject.
When I first started IT training I knew very little about learning styles and preferences. The first ever training session I ran, one of the delegates, never responded to a single question I asked and was deep in thought most of the day. This unnerved me because I learn by participating and trying things out. The more of these “types” I encountered and the more “different” types I came across, the more able I felt to cope with them. The quiet ones were always the most difficult for me to get my head around. I assumed that if they were quiet, they were not enjoying themselves.
When I first read about Kolb, Honey & Mumford, it was a revelation to me. It almost certainly stopped me from hounding these poor “silent” types, probably reflectors who enjoyed observing others and thinking over what they encountered before the learning stuck.
For a while, I accepted that everyone had their own preferred style and my role was to make sure I catered for this style, so they could learn best. This works in an instructional setting, which IT training mainly was in those days. The trainer is responsible for giving the knowledge, the learners were there to receive the knowledge.
When I found out about accelerated learning and the “trainer” transformed into the “facilitator”, who had joint responsibility with the learners for the learning, this made me consider the whole of Kolb’s cycle and that learners had a responsibility to “engage at each stage” to ensure the best learning outcome.
Since then, I have looked at various ways of categorising learners: VAK, Howard Gardeners multiple intelligences, SDI, TMSDI, Belbin , MBTI and most recently Packtypes. This has helped me understand all those differences and ways to cater for them. Realistically you cannot please all of the people all of the time – but if there is enough variety in your training then most people will be engaged and you as a trainer will also find it engaging.