Articles and Resources - Learning


The How To's Of An Individual Learning Plan

A question was asked by a Trainer in a workshop; Do you think you need a learning plan? The overwhelming response was, "Only if you want to achieve your career goals."

An Individual Learning Plan is completed by an employee at the start of a new position or during the performance review process. This plan can also be done if there is a major change in their duties, a restructuring of the business, or a transformation of the organization’s objectives and goals. The Individual Learning Plan is a formal document. It indicates the knowledge, skills and abilities as well as sources of learning and development required over a set amount of time in order to achieve the objectives of that position. The purpose is to identify areas for growth and development along with the action required to achieve their goals and objectives. The Learning Plan can consist of one of the following:

  • formal courses available from universities or other learning providers,
  • on-the-job training available through job rotations or on the assumption of additional responsibilities,
  • informal learning through mentoring or reading.

8 Steps to establish an Individual Learning Plan:

  1. Goal(s) - Reflect upon what you would like to accomplish. Pick one or two main ideas.
  2. Activities - What do you need to make this happen?
  3. Results – What you expect to happen when you accomplish the activities.
  4. Timelines – When will the activities take place?  This will usually happen over a year.
  5. Cost – Your Manager will be especially interested and can set aside funding for the special conference or course that you want to attend.
  6. Draft a Learning Plan.
  7. Discuss with your Manager, finalize and commit to action.
  8. Obtain feedback from your coach or Manager and revise as needed.

The Individual Learning Plan serves as a discussion point during the performance review process. It is a conversation between a manager and an employee about his or her current job performance and the areas that need to be strengthened as well as the employee’s areas of interest in future growth and development. Every employee should have a current Learning Plan that has been approved by his or her immediate Manager.

When Individual Learning Plans are gathered and compiled in an organization, they serve as the basis of the strategic direction of an organization’s master training plan and establish the financial commitment of the organization.



What's Your Learning Style?

Adults have different preferences and approaches while learning, taking in information differently and drawing conclusions. This concept is known as learning styles. Much research has been done in this field. Some studies indicate that everyone has a dominant learning style, while newer research shows that learners need access to a variety of learning styles. When providing training, It is important to observe your audience carefully, study their patterns and adjust as you go. 

According to the VAK/VARK Model, people have 3 different learning preferences:


People learn by listening. This phenomenon is why university professors are so fond of lecturing! The benefit is that a great deal of information can be distributed over a short period of time. The disadvantage is that if the material is boring, some people will be lost in the process. It is easy to daydream about the upcoming weekend activities, rather than concentrate on the material at hand. Lectures can be supported with slides or handouts that will help students retain the content. A way to reinforce the concept is by discussion of the topics, supplemented with practical case studies, scenarios and videos. This method will help participants better understand the concept and its applicability. 

Participants with an auditory learning style will focus carefully on the pitch and tone of voice of the presenter. Trainers may want to speed up their presentations, use lesser details and even dramatize some of the ideas to keep the attention of the audience.

When observing auditory learners, you will notice that they are loud and very outgoing; excitement is in the air. They will provide you with feedback, smiles and responses to your questions.

Some learners use the auditory method to memorize important facts or details. For example, some trainers will talk to themselves as they memorize a speech. Others will read out instructions as a way to better clarify the meaning of written information.


Other people prefer to learn by watching. They often sit at the front of the class to observe the body language and facial expressions of the trainer. Participants will write important notes in the margins of books or draw diagrams to visualize and link concepts. They seek a pattern.

When observing visual learners, you will notice that they are quieter and have a critical look on their faces. They tend to be introverted and are more passive learners.

Trainers can use slides with photographs, diagrams, important facts and theories to reinforce key ideas and concepts. Handouts can be given out. Others use flipcharts, whiteboards and blackboards to illustrate key thoughts and ideas. If there is a large amount of technical information, trainers need to slow down their speaking rate to give participants a chance to comprehend the material.

Learners and trainers often use mind mapping, as an aid to help them "see" the main concepts. Visual learners tend to take copious notes, while some people will use their electronic devices.

Others will make up a movie in their mind as a memory aid. If we draw a picture to cement the ideas, we will have higher memory recall. The mind has a sense of humor and the funnier the pictures, the higher our memory recall.


Many learners need to use their hands and be involved in activities as they learn. They can be easily distracted and need activity as well as exploration to maintain their attention. They require an active, hands-on approach.

Classes with labs are most effective. For a computer software course in the workplace, the learner needs to sit at a computer and work through the various applications as directed by an instructor. Tactile learners prefer to touch the keyboard and apply the applications. They will learn the application and remember it through the process of attempting different combinations with an occasional error.

Many of us have watched or actually assembled a barbeque at some point in our lives. The tactile learner prefers to assemble the barbeque without reading the instructions. Only when they run into a problem will they seek the instructions as a last resort. No wonder they often end up with extra parts!

This learning method works well for manufacturing or assembly types of positions where individuals are required to perform the work with a high degree of accuracy. Using this method, the learners watch the instructor perform the task and listen to his explanation of what is being done. Then the learners perform the task, based on what they have seen and heard. The instructor monitors the results and provides immediate feedback.

In this case, they have used the 3 methods of learning: visual, auditory and tactile.

Kinesthetic learners often use a highlighter pen to mark the most important parts in a book and also take down important notes. They hold the book in their hands, rather than rest it on a table or their lap. Others may even walk around with the book, as if they want to feel the words.

Tactile/kinesthetic learning is a form of experiential learning in which participants learn by doing. We use this method to learn how to walk, drive a bike or sing a song. 

Other models to explore include work by David Kolb, Peter Honey, Alan Mumford, Anthony Gregorc, and Christopher Dovakhin. Each model has its own way of looking at how different adults learn.



10 Ways to Engage Your Audience in Training Workshops

Robert was excited to attend an Essential Skills for Supervisors workshop. He came in with some expectations and looked forward to sharpening his skills as a new Supervisor. But after the first 20 minutes he was tempted to check his emails and update his Facebook status.

A challenge that presenters and trainers often face is that we need to transfer new knowledge, but the same old methods are used and participants are easily bored.

In this age of rapid fire technology, participants are uninterested with the traditional methods of training such as pour and snore lectures (the lecturer pours the information into the heads of participants while they snore) and habitual classroom instruction. It’s no wonder that participants soon pull out their i-phones and start to surf the net. Not good!

According to Dorothy Parker, "The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity."

In the Trainer's Inside Edge book and Train the Trainer workshop, several key ways are used to connect with participants and keep them engaged long before they even think of checking Facebook updates.

  1. Game Shows – Prepare questions/responses and play the game, "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" or "Jeopardy". Some software is free or it can be purchased online.
  2. Radio Show Host – Participants role play a radio show interview in front of the class.
  3. Make up a Poem – Participants prepare and present a poem that represents the key topics.
  4. Learning Circle – Participants prepare and present a main idea or topic, while standing in a circle of participants.
  5. Dummy – Use a doll (similar to a ventriloquist) and carry on a conversation between the dummy and workshop leader about the topic. This method is similar to the radio show interview, however the dummy asks the trainer questions.
  6. Crossword Puzzle – This one has been around for years. Prepare a crossword puzzle. Participants are given clues about the topics discussed during the course. It serves as a good review of key topics.
  7. Interactive Games – Use games to reinforce and apply ideas or concepts. For example a tower building exercise with index cards can illustrate the ideas of leadership, working together, planning, organizing, directing, controlling and celebrating success.
  8. Gamification – Use game thinking to help participants solve problems. Learners compete against one or more individuals in an interactive experience that rewards the learning experience in some way. For example, use a video game that has a story, in which they learn the subject matter, interact with the game and practice what is learned.
  9. Role Plays – Participants assume a role in a make believe situation to actually apply a concept or process. It is beneficial for skill development and dealing with real life situations.
  10. Case Studies – Participants use case studies to test concepts, analyze situations, and problem solve difficult issues. The case study can simulate an actual situation.

If you have some creative ways to transfer learning – we would love to hear from you!



5 Key Training Workshop Energizers

Have you ever been to a training session in which participants say, "I cannot believe how quickly this day has gone by?" What did the trainer do to make this workshop so engaging?

As a rule of thumb, participants (and trainers) need some activities to provide variety to presentations, especially if the content is highly technical. Put in an energizer every 30 to 40 minutes, especially after lunch and in the late afternoon.
The following are five options:

  1. Time to stretch – Tell participants to stand up. Clasp the hands together and push the palms towards the ceiling, while pushing the shoulders down. Hold for 15 seconds. Reclasp the hands with the opposite thumb on top and repeat. Now roll the shoulders forward 4 times and roll backwards 4 times. (Participants will feel that the upper body is more relaxed.)
  2. Walk About – Tell participants to stand up, turn right and walk around your table. Then turn left, walk around your table and sit down. (Participants appreciate being able to stand up and stretch their legs.) 
  3. The “What is” Game - Each participant has a colored index card. Tell them to write down one response to a question (i.e. What is your first job, most unusual job, worst vacation location, a phobia or proudest achievement?) Collect the cards, shuffle them and then pass them out. Participants need to guess who is the owner of the card. A variation is to read out 3 or 4 cards throughout the day. (Participants will get to know their class members better and share some laughs.) 
  4. Sitting Down Exercise – Tell participants to tilt their head to the right 4 times, then to the left 4 times. Roll the head to the right 4 times, then roll it to the left 4 times. Roll the shoulders 4 times forward, then roll the shoulders 4 times backwards. Place hands on shoulders (like chicken wings) and roll the arms forward 4 times, then backwards 4 times. Squeeze butt and hold for 15 seconds (will generate some laughs). Do this 4 times.  Raise the right leg and point toes forward 4 times, then raise the left leg and point toes forward 4 times. Raise both legs and point toes forward 4 times. (Participants will feel refreshed and energized while staying seated.) 
  5. Bouncing Balloons – Tell participants to stand up and spread out. Give everyone a balloon. Bounce the balloon with the right hand for 1 minute, bounce the balloon with the left hand for 1 minute, alternate between left and right hand for 1 minute. With a partner, bounce one balloon back and forth using the right hand for 1 minute, bounce the balloon using the left hand for 1 minute, then bounce the balloon with a partner alternating between the left and right hands for 2 minutes. This exercise will involve balloons flying off course and plenty of laughing. (Participants will feel energized and ready to tackle more difficult tasks, after the bending, stretching, reaching, teamwork, and hand-eye coordination.) 

Workshop Trainers need to manage and pace their energy. If we are bored with the material and speak in a dull, monotone voice, participants will become easily distracted and bored as well! Go for a brisk walk during the break, do some jumping jacks (behind closed doors) and visualize a fun workshop and Happy Training! 
If you have some workshop training energizes that really work – we would love to hear from you!


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