No two training classes are alike. The same goes for learners. Facilitators are often confronted with learners at different knowledge levels—some who are advanced on a topic and others who are not. How do you ensure one lesson meets the needs of all learners?
Learning leaders need to possess the ability to adjust the ebb and flow of a training session to meet learners where they are. There are also ways to use advanced participants' knowledge to promote greater learning for the whole class.
- Get to know your learners. Reduce uncertainty about participants' understanding of the subject matter by asking what expectations they have for the learning experience. Consider launching a discussion board ahead of the course or sending a poll asking learners to share their familiarity or experience with the topic.
- Put learners at the same level. Organize the course in a way where everyone can start from relatively the same place. For example, reserve the first two hours of the course for those who want to cover the basics and allow those who are advanced to join the class at a later start time. That enables those who are less familiar with the subject matter to have a safe space to learn and grow.
- Partner learners with purpose. Pair advanced learners with those who are new to the topic. This is another way to help all participants reach a similar knowledge level. Participants don't need to know why they were paired together. Sometimes pairing can happen naturally, but as a facilitator, your role is to balance teams for the optimal learning experience.
- Conduct frequent knowledge and pace checks. Technology makes it easy to gauge how learners are feeling about the subject matter and the course's pace. At various points, pause instruction and have learners use virtual feedback tools, such as a green check mark or a red X, to share how they're feeling about the course. Use that information to adjust the program's tenor and pace.
After you have introduced a concept, invite those individuals you have identified as advanced to chime in and share their experiences on the topic. Engage them as co-facilitators. Further, if you notice several learners have finished the activities ahead of schedule, keep them engaged by having them quality check each other's work.