Learning is one of life’s constants. In today’s technological world, there’s always something new to learn: A new tool, new software, or a new process. To thrive in emergency services, embracing lifelong learning is an essential trait. We must stay up to date on the latest firefighting techniques, the evolving science of patient care, and myriad other technologies and trends that impact how we serve our communities and each other.
At First Due, continuing education is essential to our mission. Internally, we’re always learning about our customers’ needs so we can continuously improve our product. Externally, we’re sharing best practices with our customers to help them get the most out of our software. We’re also coaching our newest clients on how to effectively implement First Due.
Recognizing the needs of adult learners is contributing to First Due’s ongoing success and can be part of your success, too. Here are some concepts to keep in mind:
- Understand adult education philosophies. Adult learning isn’t the same as your childhood school days. A frequent objective in adult learning is to solve a problem, learn a specific task, or apply knowledge in a meaningful way. Adults also want to be more involved in the planning of their learning. You’ll want to structure your learning for busy adults who have many other things on their minds, staying flexible and focusing on the key outcomes you establish together.
- Get familiar with your team’s learning styles. Everyone learns differently. Think back to your school experience; did you find it easier to learn by doing, by listening, or by watching? Some respond well by talking through a new concept, while others thrive through reading. Get to know how your team responds to new information and tailor your approach to appeal to their learning style.
- Engage and excite your team. Learning is more exciting, more engaging, and more fun when your teams are invested in the topic. Show your team you’re passionate about the new concept and make it exciting – nothing is worse than an endless, dry presentation with no clear outcomes! Your team is watching you to see how you’re responding to the new information. They will respond with enthusiasm when they see you’re excited about learning something new.
- Lead with the why and end with the how. To fully embrace new concepts, your team wants to understand why the new information is needed. Start your training sessions with a discussion of the ‘why’ – why the new skills are needed and why the training is a part of your overall strategy. Once the why has been established, you can move into the ‘how,’ reviewing the details and key information your team needs to be successful.
We apply these principles every day at First Due whenever we create documentation, webinars, videos, learning plans or add to our knowledge base. Learning is one of life’s constants. When you take time to understand your team’s learning styles, teach with enthusiasm, and include the whys and the hows, you help guarantee the learning is fun and enduring.