A training of trainers module on adult learning and ADIDS

As someone who has spent a good part of the last two decades developing trainings and workshop sessions and subsequently learning from those experiences, I’m often asked to help other trainers develop curriculum on a variety of topics. This module has been evolving over the years as a result of contributing and running several training of trainers events. Most recently, it has been influenced by our work with LevelUp, a resource and network for digital security trainers.

Learning goals

The goal of this training is to give the participants a deeper understanding of how adults learn and expose them to ADIDS as a methodology for developing their own effective trainings.

Materials to prepare:

  • Flip Chart Paper with Easel
  • Post-it notes 4 *6 size
  • Markers and pens
  • Blank A4 paper

Opening Go Round

This can be whatever you like but we suggest a simple quick go round with three pieces of data: ‘Your name, Where you are from (one sentence, but up to the participants interpretation of the question) and one word to describe how you are feeling.’  After everyone has spoken, review the training goals, agenda and any ground rules.

Reflect on a learning experience

Break participants into groups of three, and ask them to talk about a recent learning experience: ‘when did you have to learn a new skill, methodology or how to do something? What process did you go through? How much did you actually learn?’

While they are discussing this – pass out post-it notes to each group and let them know that it’s for the next step.

Trainer’s note

An alternative to this activity would be to give them something specific to learn in a short time frame. Our colleague, Mariel Garcia, recommends knitting – this would mean having wool and needles available and instruction on how to knit.  Give them 5 minutes to try it on their own and then pair them up for another five minutes to help each other out.  Debrief for 10 minutes about the experience.

What is the most effective way of learning?

Ask a member of each of the small groups to write each of the following on the post-it notes you just distributed

  • Reading step by step instructions
  • Listening to a lecture
  • Watching and listening to a presentation
  • Watching a video ‘how to’
  • Teaching others
  • Discussion with peers
  • Personal Experience

Now ask the small groups to order them from what they think is the least effective to most effective way of learning.  After every group has worked trough their choices for most effective to least effective – introduce the concept of Androgogy and the researcher Martin S. Knowles:

  • As a learning model, Androgogy means adult-led, adult-focused, and adult-driven learning. Five statements summarize Knowles’ theory:
    • Adults need to understand and accept the reason for learning a specific skill.
    • Experience (including error) provides the basis for learning activities.
    • Adults need to be involved in both the planning and evaluation of their learning.
    • Adult learning is problem-centered rather than content-oriented.
    • Most adults are interested in learning what has immediate relevance to their professional and social lives.

(this is taken from LevelUp: How Adults Learn: From Pedagogy to Androgogy)

Ask the participants what they make of this theory and do they agree or disagree? Now ask them to revisit their selections based on that discussion and revise their choices.  Discuss if they changed anything and ask why, if they did.

Trainer’s Note

I usually end this section by pointing out that for me, ‘Training Others’ is the most effective way for me to learn something. It’s also important to relate my own experience of learning the topic during the training.

Adult Learning Theories and ADIDS

Now introduce them to ADIDS: ADIDS stands for Activity-Discussion-Input-Deepening-Synthesis.  It is one of the teaching methodologies for adult learning – there are others but for the purpose of this training we will focus on ADIDS.

Activity: The session begins with an activity that is connected to the topic of the session. This is meant to introduce the topic to the participants using interactive exercises. Trainers / facilitators design this beforehand to illustrate some of the issues that they want the participants to start thinking about.

Discussion: In this part of your session, everyone talks about what they thought of the activity they just completed. The trainer / facilitator should prepare questions to guide the activity.

Input: This is usually the lecture part of the session. The trainer presents on issues, sub-topics and more advanced concepts related to focus of the session

Deepening: In technical training, this is usually the hands-on segment of a session. This is where the participants will get to put what they are learning to use

Synthesis: A good training habit is to always summarize the session. Talk about what happened in the session, some of the results of the discussion, what issues were discussed, what solutions were made, and give some more time for participants to ask more questions before the session is closed.

(ADIDS is taken from LevelUp’s Preparing ADIDS Sessions.)

Trainer’s Note

It’s important to note that the Input section comes in the middle and most trainers have a tendency to put that at the beginning. Adults will need to contextualise and relate the topic to their own experience and challenges long before they are ready to hear from the trainer.

Training Labs

In pairs, get the participants help each other develop a training plan using ADIDS. They should start by articulating a clear goal for the training – as a result of the training, participants will be able to do X.  They should then think through how each step of ADIDS will help support and achieve that goal.

Training Golden Rules

In a large group, ask the participants to help you compile a list of what they think are the golden rules of creating an effective training. Use flip chart paper and marker to write the rules as the participants come up with them.

Trainer’s Notes

Make sure ‘get to know the participant’s needs and contexts’ is on the list. Along with ‘The trainer should never stop learning about the topic’, participants will relate best to trainers who are also learning.

Wrap up

Wrap up, In a large group discussion, ask people what have people just learned about training.  How have there training curriculum changed as a result of the training? Be sure to point out that this training followed an ADIDS methodology and recap the training by reviewing each of the steps in the training and how they mirrored ADIDS.

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