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THE LEARNING CLIMATE

An important role of the facilitator is to ensure that s/he creates the best possible learning climate. For this to happen, seven important characteristics have to exist.

(1) Participants must want to learn.

(2) The content and process must be relevant and in context for the learner.

(3) Practice of the material or ideas must be an integral part of the training.

(4) Participants must translate ideas into their own words, allowing ownership of the learning.

(5) There must be a sense of creative tension formed in which people find a variety of ways to develop their learning.

(6) Participants must have an expectation that the learning will make their work more effective.

(7) Participants must have an expectation that the learning experience will be fun and positive.

The facilitator is responsible for creating a physical and psychological environment in which the participants can work and learn. For there to be a good climate, the following factors must be present:

• Good physical conditions;

• Respect, acceptance, and trust;

• Encouragement of self-discovery;

• An atmosphere that encourages openness;

• A consideration that differences are good and desirable;

• An understanding that individuals have a right to make mistakes;

• A recognition of the variety of ways that people learn;

• An understanding of how individuals will use the learning.

As the combination of factors varies from group to group, the facilitator must also consider the characteristics of the group being trained. These include:

• The group’s previous experience of training;

• Their own organisations’ attitude to training;

• The purpose of the training;

• The preferred learning style of the participants;

• The group’s understanding of the process of learning;

• How the group expects the facilitator to act and the type of training they are expecting;

• Particular needs of the group, e.g., special starting and finishing times;

• Accessibility for people with disabilities;

• Material that doesn’t create difficulties for those with visual or hearing difficulties;

• Likely attitudes, knowledge, and skill levels that the group will bring with them.

All these will influence the ability of the participants to learn, and the facilitator must be aware of them when designing the training, during the training, and when evaluating it. The following diagram reflects cultural influences on learning.

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