As the name suggests, a learner-centered approach is one where the entire learning process is focused on the learners and their needs. For example, learners should be able to access the courses and the learning resources whenever they need, with a focus on the flexibility of learning. Moreover, the courses should be user-friendly, delivering information to the trainees in a manner that suits their learning style. Also, in a learner-centered approach, the courses are easy to navigate, they focus on the learners’ training needs and objectives and they use information and resources that learners can actually relate to and further use in their professional day to day life.
It sounds great, isn’t it? But the truth is that most of the time, when planning and building a new training program, the main focus is not on learners, but rather on how the training meets the corporate training objectives, whether or not it fits into a specific budget, what elements should be included to deliver certain learning outcomes. Thus, more budget, structure and corporate objectives aspects to be checked rather than making the learner experience a top priority.
And we get that, being a learning and development specialist comes with a lot of challenges to be dealt with and a lot of objectives and expectations to meet. However, if you want the training process to deliver long-term results that actually stick with the trainees, you should consider a learning-centered approach.
In a traditional approach to learning, the learners are mostly passive, whereas in the learner-centered approach, trainees are actively engaged in the process, responding to the content and actively pursuing learning. Moreover, in a traditional training approach, the content is focused toward certain objectives (e.g. compliance), whereas in a learner-centered approach, the course and its objectives are focused on the learners’ needs.
Also, as you might expect, in the first case, the delivery of the knowledge is mostly lectured-based, whereas in the second case, the learning is dynamic, including learning resources that address various learning styles, focused on strengthening the learners’ active understanding of the content and their ability to turn it into valuable skills.
Have you ever attended a training program addressing your specific needs, feeling that it has been designed for you? How would YOU compare that to a training program focused solely on corporate objectives? We’ve ourselves attended all sorts of training programs and there are a few benefits that we’ve noticed when being subjected to learner-centered training.
If you knew that a certain training program is designed according to your needs and learning styles, that it delivers knowledge that you actually need and that would help in performing your task, how engaged would you be? We’d say that certainly more than when attending a training program that does not fit your needs, right?
Moreover, according to an eLearning Industry article, “the learner-centered approach shifts the focus from traditional eLearning, which emphasized only on graphs and PowerPoint slides, to eLearning with more engaging and stimulating content”. This automatically leads to a greater retention of knowledge, as the content is adapted to learners in such a way that it provides long-term retention.
Collaborative learning is proven to be a great method to actively achieve information and pursue the learning process. That’s why a learner-centered approach should foster its benefits, with group exercises, brainstorming sessions, real-life scenarios, and any other learning method that involves working and learning together.
When receiving the information they need in a manner that suits their needs, employees are more likely to apply what they learn at work, which leads to improved on-the-job performance. This outcome can be further supported by certain learning methods, such as the above mentioned real life scenarios, which gives learners a safe context to solve specific problems or to deal with specific challenges, giving them the opportunity to see how certain actions work out.
What about giving a learner-centered approach to training a try next time when you plan a training program? Or if you already did, just drop a comment and let us know how that turned out for you and your teams, we’d be happy to know.
Some (final) thoughts
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