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Facilitation vs training


I am currently in a team that has a range of soft skills and product based modules that we present to various depts in the business. Previously we have had different people in the two areas of learning, as they've always been considered to need different skills sets.

A recent move in the Learning and Development department means that we are moving to a new model of design and delivery, concentrating mainly on the trainers we have. 

Their job title has been relabeled to 'Facilitators' and they are being asked to find ways to reinvigorate and facilitate learning that is very outcomes focused (ie, by the end of this session you will be able to input this information to provide our customers with that information).

My question is do you think it's possible to facilitate technical training? I need some help getting my head around this, as I see facilitation as guiding a group of people to find a solution themselves, with adequate support, self reflection and activities. For me this doesn't match with a group that need to learn this process to complete this transaction.

Someone please help! I am usually a really open minded person, and I challenge myself to find new ways of thinking, but I am having trouble here.

3 Responses

  1. ’tis niether just one thing or t’other

    IMHO a person 'running' a 'training event' needs to be able to switch back and forth between a range of different skills.  Similarly, a range of different approaches needs to be taken in the design of the event….for example.

    ~You may have a straight chalk-and-talk session on event groundrules and objectives

    ~You may then have a facilitated session for the delegates to identify the benefits of a particular technical process and the barriers to getting it right.

    ~You may have a another chalk-and-talk session on 'naming of parts' and the actual steps in the process; using cutaways, screenshots, videos or actual bits for people to handle depending on the topic. 

    ~You may then have an experiential session of practice where specific activities are carried out in slow time and where the 'trainer' acts as a technical advisor to assist individuals to get it right

    ~You then may have another facilitated session to analyse the methodologies and behaviours exhibited in the experiential session.

    ~Finally you may have a test to ensure retention of knowledge and demonstration of skill.

    ~After the event the trainer may either act as a technical consultant or run a follow up event to facilitate the sharing of good practice and problem solving.

    Whether the person concerned is titles a teacher, trainer, facilitator, Course Director or whatever is almost immaterial……

    I hope that helps


  2. Rus is right!

    I agree 100% with what Russ has said. 

    I often work with technical trainers who spend a lot of their time telling and showing, but using the MASTER model I show them where and how they can make things more interactive to develop understanding and make the whole 'course' more experiential WITHOUT losing the control needed to say 'this is the right way'.


    Power Hour Bite Size Training

  3. Defining what people do

    I think Rus makes a relevant, and well described point about having the need for a 'mixed bag' of skills.

    My experience of working with various clients over the years is that no-one has a clear definition of what a trainer is or how to differentiate that for what a facilitator does. In some cases 'facilitators' will run the whole event, or might just open and close the sessions for various 'trainers'.

    However, as a rule of thumb,  I would say that a facilitator works from a guided text, and follows a prescribed set of instructions. They would need to have good communication and organisational skills, but wouldn't be the source of the learning. On the other hand, trainers are more likely to have created the learning from a position of expertise. So that, these subject matter experts are able to present solutions, best practices and answers for learners. If you look at it like that then, the following makes sense.

    Facilitators deliver training, Subject matter experts create training. 

    In your case I think you are referring to training professionals, that have studied how to make sense of the learning and are able to present, coordinate and guide learners through it. When looking for ways to jazz up training sessions, it's best to focus on what skills the facilitator can bring to the group.

    Bit long answer, but I hope that helps.


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