Instruction versus facilitation

Over the years I have worked in many different settings offering learning events to adults and youth.  One thing that stands out to me is that depending on the purpose of the session my role may shift from an instructor to a trainer to a facilitator.  So what is the difference you may ask?

I think Langevin Learning Services coins it best by stating that “the purpose will determine the structure of the session and the skill set used to deliver it”.  If the idea is to teach your participants a new skill or knowledge, then the role needed is one of an instructor or a trainer.  An instructor may just present the information, where the trainer would hopefully demonstrate how the information will be applied.  However, the result may be that the participants will only achieve the first two levels of Blooms Taxonomy in the cognitive domain, which is primarily to recall and understand the information presented.

In reality, too often participants need to go beyond recall and learn to actually apply what they have learned.  In order to achieve that level of learning, one needs to go beyond theory and allow opportunities for participants to try out their new found knowledge and skills.  For this learning to take root, the information must be relevant to the participants.  That is when the role shifts from being an instructor to being a facilitator.

As a facilitator you encourage participants to share ideas, try out skills, bring forth scenarios and learn from one another.  This engagement requires different types of skills and tools to be used.  The result is a very rich environment that is changing and adapting to the needs of the learners, which is one of the primary principles of adult learning.

Next week I will post further about adult principles.  Meanwhile, I am interested to hear your thoughts about the differences between instructing and facilitating.

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