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The specialist international beekeeping organisation

Important issues in training

The most important thing to think about when producing a training course is to bring about effective learning in the participants so that they have made real change in their knowledge, attitudes, skills and practise. Consequently, there are a number of important things to remember when thinking about providing a training course.Planning what you are going to to do is essential. Failing to plan is planning to fail.

  1. Each lesson needs careful planning to make sure that everything is ready. This can be done by means of a lesson plan.
  2. People learn best by doing. So courses should have a practical element where people are actively practising the skill being taught.
  3. People have a wide range of learning styles. This means course designers need to use a variety of teaching techniques.
  4. Lessons need to be interesting and participatory. Exercises can be developed to demonstrate both practical and theoretical material. It just needs some innovative thought.
  5. Presentation of the factual technical material should be logical and systematic but not presented in a didactic or dull way.
  6. Trainers need to have a method for assessing what students have learned.
  7. Supporting training materials should be fit for the intended purpose.

Each lesson should have a clear learning objective that is expressed in an active way.

For instance: 

  1. 'At the end of the lesson the student will be able to make a candle' or;     
  2. 'At the end of the lesson the student will be able to describe how to harvest honey'.

By making a clear and active purpose for the lesson the trainer will be able to assess whether the student has achieved the learning outcome that was planned. Avoid vague objectives like 'the student will know more about the topic'  because it is very difficult to test whether a person does actually know more about the topic than they did previously or if they have learned anything from the lesson.

The previous experience and skills of the participants should be assessed at the start of the course. Ideally the target group should have similar levels of education and practical skills otherwise it will be difficult to fulfil everyone's training needs.  If the group is very heterogeneous thought should be given about how the more experienced can support the less experienced. This has the secondary benefit of allowing the trainer to assess the skills of the more experienced people, while adding to their confidence and self esteem. Sometimes the work can be done on a group basis with the participants in each group selected in a way that supports the training objectives for that part of the course.

Trainers should always seek feedback from participants about whether the course met their needs and how the lesson or course could be improved. In addition, trainers need to spend a little time immediately after the course has finished quietly reflecting on how things went; what worked and what didn't work so well so that the next course is even better. A team meeting of trainers to reflect on the course is also helpful.

Beekeeping is a practical topic and so producing interesting training course and assessing learning outcomes should be relatively easy. A simple and satisfying way of assessing the effectiveness of the course in the long term is whether the participants have made observable gains from their beekeeping.


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