As the saying goes, “experience is the best teacher” and in the world of adult learning and professional training, well-experienced industry leaders can be a priceless resource for many students. Like ocean explorers who have weathered countless storms, experienced industry professionals possess a wealth of wisdom that transcends textbooks and theoretical knowledge.
Their wealth of industry experience could not only boost their credibility but also brings a unique perspective to the classroom that most adult learners would find relatable. However, while industry experience can be an invaluable asset, it’s essential to navigate the classroom with caution, as not all experiences are created equal. In this article, we unveil how industry experience can be an advantage – and when it’s not.
How can Industrial Experience be Helpful for Trainers?
1. Bridging the Gap Between Expertise and Instruction
As professionals with a robust backgrounds in their respective industries, seasoned experts possess a deep understanding of the practical application of knowledge. By becoming educators, they can bridge the gap between their expertise and instructional practices. Drawing from their own experiences, they can provide learners with valuable insights and real-life examples that demonstrate the relevance and applicability of theoretical concepts.
2. Enriching Learning with Contextual Relevance
The ability to infuse training with contextually relevant examples is a remarkable asset that experienced professionals bring to the table. With contextual learning being cited as the key to reskilling, trainers’ industry know-how enables them to incorporate authentic case studies and practical scenarios, giving learners a holistic understanding of how theoretical concepts manifest in real-world situations. This contextual relevance not only enhances comprehension but also fosters a deeper connection between learners and the subject matter.
3. Leveraging Professional Networks
Seasoned industry professionals have nurtured extensive professional networks throughout their careers. As educators, they can tap into these networks to create meaningful opportunities for their learners. Inviting industry experts as guest speakers, facilitating networking events, or organizing field visits can enrich the learning experience by exposing learners to diverse perspectives, and expanding their professional connections.
4. Adapting to Industry Dynamics
Industries are constantly evolving and unsurprisingly, experienced professionals possess the agility to navigate these changes seamlessly, thanks to their own experience that could only be bestowed by time. Their comprehensive knowledge of emerging trends, technological advancements, and evolving best practices enables them to adapt their training content effectively. By staying ahead of the curve, they equip learners with up-to-date skills and empower them to excel in their careers within a rapidly changing professional landscape.
Nonetheless, there’s a curious paradox to industry experience. While one might think that industry experts would naturally excel as adult learning educators, it is essential to acknowledge that it’s not always the case.
How Industry Experience Becomes a Training Block
1. Assumption Overload
Assumptions can lead to a downfall in any relationship and fuel self-fulfilling prophecies whether you expect the best or the worst in someone. Unfortunately, field experts may inadvertently assume that their students possess a similar level of background knowledge and experience. This assumption can lead to gaps in teaching, as crucial foundational concepts may be skipped or overlooked. It’s essential for educators to remember that adult learners come from diverse backgrounds and may have limited prior knowledge in certain areas.
2. Lack of Adaptability
Being agile in any field is a must-have in this age, and what’s more when it’s the ever-changing educational landscape. Professionals who have spent years mastering their craft may find it challenging to adapt their teaching methods to suit the learning styles and preferences of adult learners. They may rely heavily on their preferred techniques or industry-specific jargon, which can alienate or confuse students. It’s crucial for educators to remain open-minded and adaptive, embracing a variety of teaching approaches to cater to the diverse needs of their adult learners.
3. Mindset Shift
Transitioning from an industry expert to an educator requires a significant mindset shift. Seasoned professionals may need to shift their focus from their own achievements and expertise to the needs and progress of their students. This shift is crucial for creating a learner-centred environment that fosters growth and development.
Acknowledging these challenges is the first step to ensuring a smooth transition from the technical field to the classroom. The second step is to take active measures to overcome trainer blocks. Where and how do we begin?
Overcome These Training Blocks By
- Cultivating Mindfulness: Mindfulness practices can help educators become more aware of their assumptions and biases through active self-reflection and considering the unique perspectives of their adult learners. It’s worth noting that a study from Harvard found that practising mindfulness doesn’t only help educators to deliver their materials better, it also engages students to learn better.
- Embracing Innovative Teaching Techniques: To overcome the lack of adaptability, educators should explore innovative teaching techniques that engage adult learners effectively. Incorporating interactive activities, group discussions, case studies, and real-life scenarios can promote active learning and create a dynamic classroom environment that resonates with learners from diverse backgrounds.
- Continuous Professional Development: Regardless of how experienced you are in your field, any educator should engage in ongoing professional development to enhance their teaching skills. This includes attending workshops, conferences, and seminars focused on adult learning and instructional design. By staying abreast of the latest trends and best practices in adult education, educators can continually improve their ability to create impactful learning experiences.
Safe to say, leveraging industry expertise can be a double-edged sword. Industry experts can certainly bring a wealth of real-world insights to the educational landscape, enriching the learning experience for adult learners. However, this experience can also present challenges that need to be navigated carefully.
In the end, whether industry experience is useful or not in a classroom setting is not solely dependent on the experience itself, but on the trainer’s ability to harness its potential and tailor it to the specific needs and goals of their adult learners. It is through the trainer’s skilful guidance and instructional approach that industry expertise truly comes alive, making a lasting impact on the learning process and paving the way for professional growth and excellence.