Communication is categorised into two types, verbal and non verbal. Regardless which type is preferred or utilised (usually both), communication is paramount in education. Whether it is Trainer/Learner, Learner/Learner or Trainer/other professional, communication is required to impart information and ensure learning takes place in order for Learners achieve their goals with regard to their individual learning plans.
As a Trainer it is important you are a good communicator as it is your role and responsibility to transmit knowledge, skills and values to your learners. Besides imparting the relevant course content, as a Trainer you must build a rapport and trust with your learners in order to give them the greatest opportunity for them to learn.
Verbal communication is often the more conscious/deliberate type of communication. Speaking, listening or electronic means e.g. email, text. These all have their benefits and limitations which must be considered when being utilised. In my role I rely a lot on face to face, speaking and listening. The benefit of this type is the instantaneous response available if the information has been understood. If I have not transmitted the information sufficiently well, I can invite feedback or validate learning has taken place by questioning my learners. I then have the opportunity, if necessary to translate the information and transmit it in a way which is suitable to those learners who require the additional explanation. However the limitation to this type of communication is the lack of recorded evidence as I do not record all my spoken communication.
During this type of communication it is imperative as a Trainer that you ensure you actively listen to the feedback and responses of your learners. Effective listening is a big part of the building rapport with your learners. It shows them you are interested in what they have to say and it allows you to respond accordingly whether it be with words of affirmation or positive feedback.
If I need a record of my communication I will use email because I require a response. I very rarely utilise this medium of communication as a teaching tool with my Learners. However I do use it to convey details such as course timetable and venue for lessons. In these particular instances the email will simply be used to send a link to specific areas of our VLE. The benefit of this medium is having a record that my message has been sent. However this also is not without it’s limitations. Some Learners may not have IT access. I mitigate this by printing out timetables and displaying them on our dedicated notice board which all learners are aware of and see on a daily basis.
In a learning environment but not exclusive to, non verbal communication has many facets. They include eye contact, dress, body language and classroom layout/positioning.
In my experience effective listening is a combination of posture, eye contact and appropriate gestures such as nodding and smiling. This combination provides the Learner with reassurance which will improve their confidence to participate in sessions where Q ; A or discussion is taking place. It removes any barriers that may have been misconceived. However like with most types of communication it can be misunderstood. It is the responsibility of the Trainer to avoid this happening. I am conscious of my accent and the potential speed that I speak. With that in mind I ensure I slow down and speak as clearly as possible. This is doubly important if I ever have learners in my group who do not have English as their first language.
As a Trainer I reflect on the times I was a Learner and often recall Trainers I felt were effective. I then ask myself why were they so effective? What was their delivery style? I will then try and emulate the specific traits. Aspects like the way they presented themselves i.e. smart and looking professional. The way they conveyed their knowledge, confident and with enthusiasm.
In my experience as a Trainer, it is necessary to utilise a variety of communication types/methods to ensure the information I am trying to impart is being received by my Learners to ensure learning is taking place. It is rarely one way communication and is always a combination of verbal and non verbal. My awareness of the group is critical so group dynamics can be managed i.e. encourage shy learners and manage over confident ones.
Additional methods of communication I used in my area of specialism utilises classroom based media such as IT (Power Point) and handouts. If Trainees are furnished with laptops I am also able to adapt some sessions to include group and individual research which can develop in the Learners presenting their results to the rest of the group. The handouts I use will be a summary of the sessions’ presentations these are to supplement the course content. They allow the Learners to consolidate the session and their learning.