What is Facilitated Learning Really All About?

There’s been a lot written about recently about the changing role of learning officers in organizations.  While once they were simply in charge of instilling knowledge, of transferring information from them  (or their training officers) to workers, nowadays it’s a lot more about facilitating learning.  With a diversity of training methods, new technology – both in terms of software and new devices in which to access it – and a recognition that each worker learns differently and at different paces, facilitated learning is getting increasingly more attention.

So, what is the first thing you’re thinking is facilitated learning? Well of course it’s facilitated.  And yeah, like things tend to go, the jargon’s a bit of a misnomer in that the meaning of facilitated in this case is more of a guided self-learning process.

You know that in the past, I’ve talked about how much better most people, especially those of average or higher intelligence, learn via hands-on experience and by having a significant amount of agency in how they learn and in what order.

Well, organizational learning models are built around this, and this is another organizational model meant to focus specifically on self-motivated and self-regulated learning. But, that does not leave the trainer without a role to play.

See, this is where this is a unique concept, and one which actually is a relief to a lot of people in leadership positions. This is also why I recommend this as the model for leadership people who had training thrust upon them to try.

With facilitate learning, the leadership is actually a guidance and advisory role, where individuals and groups work amongst themselves in the way that naturally evolves for them. As a leader in this model, your purpose is to monitor this, and only forcefully intervene if their self-guidance is obviously leading them truly astray.

Your primary task will simply be to make your presence known in a non-imposing way, so that the participants feel secure. As they try to develop their own learning and path to accomplishing the goals of training, they will be less concerned with the dangers inherent in making mistakes on their end, knowing that help and centered guidance is right around the corner whenever they need it.

You are a mentor, rather than a lecturer or commander in this role. It is a bit less of a formal relationship, which can mean less social friction or less stratification of people involved. It also makes you more approachable, which is one of the most important facets to focus on in this model – approachability as a leader.

This model is actually pretty diverse, and while it kind of throws models for traditional organizational learning out the window, it’s flexible enough for any model you would try to apply to it. It’s pretty much pre-packaged for gamification, given its dynamic agency-enforcing principles.

For anyone who’s a leader not a trainer, who now has to train those they lead, facilitate learning is probably the best way to go. It involves much less of complex field-specific planning and puts you in much less pressure over all. Researching the technical procedures for this means at most, give pages of reading.

Jason Silberman
Jason is the former Lead Author & Editor of TrainingStation Blog
Jason Silberman on sabtwitterJason Silberman on sabgoogleJason Silberman on sabfacebook