The 5 key benefits of learning in groups
Many people find the idea of interacting in a group of people to be nerve-wracking. We worry about judgement from the others and about appearing as if we don't know as much as we think we know. This is common, but it is detrimental to learning. Group workshops and training sessions offer a lot of benefits, despite the scary idea of being vulnerable in front of a group of strangers... or worse, colleagues! Here some the 5 key reasons why group sessions are important to get the most out of a training.
1. Vulnerability Leads To Trust And Growth
Often, vulnerability is viewed as something negative, especially in the business world where professionals believe they must appear invincible and all-knowing. In business this is not the case, and in learning even less so. If you believe you have nothing new to learn, or if you refuse to be a little vulnerable, you will not open yourself to new experiences and knowledge, something that goes hand in hand with training. In a group, allowing yourself to be vulnerable shows the others in the group that you are open, trusting, and willing to accept and share.
The natural reaction to this open behaviour is more of the same cooperativeness from your group. This creates that trusting, comfortable atmosphere that we all (hopefully) have experienced from time to time. It is this atmosphere that allows us to challenge ourselves and others in a positive way and build our knowledge and understanding together. This growth is precisely the goal of a successful training.
2. More Experiences To Be Shared
Learning on your own is good. Learning from another is better. Learning in a group is the best. The stories, questions and examples that come up in a group environment allow for a much better penetration of the subject matter and enable new perspectives and ideas to be explored. As a trainer myself, I can always learn from every training I give because of the variety I experience from the group. My favourite is getting questions that really make me think about the answer, or better yet, something I cannot answer without a group discussion or further research. If I were to walk out of a training without having gained something from the individual experiences of the group, I would know that I have failed in some way as a trainer that day.
3. Different Strokes For Different Folks
Muhammed Ali coined the phrase in the 1960s, meaning that different methods are applicable for different people. When learning in a group, you have the benefit of looking for the best parts for you to learn the most. An auditory learner may want to sit and listen to a discussion led largely by vocal participants who prefer to verbalize and build their understanding of an idea through debating their opinions with others. In a group, you have the ability to stick to your comfort zone in some aspects, allowing you to feel safe enough to step out of your comfort zone in moments that will allow you to grow.
4. Learning From Your Peers
In a training session, I am looked to as a leader, and though that may be part of my role in the facilitation of a training, brainstorming sessions, discussions, and team activities make up the bulk of my training sessions. I am meant to be a guide, but the learning comes from the content, your interaction with the content, and largely from the group around you. There is so much to take away from your interactions with group members, especially in the sessions that I give revolving around soft skills. Learning about conflict resolution and having no peers to practice with or learn from would certainly make the training less successful.
5. Active And Passive Balance
When you are learning alone, you are almost completely passive, watching a video or reading a book. When you are learning one-on-one, your instructor expects a lot of active participation from you (this is ideal in a coaching session). But when you are learning in a group, you are able to dance between active and passive learning as necessary to give you the time to absorb new ideas as well as the practice needed to develop new skills. Sometimes you will be the one in a more dominant role in the group, while at other times you will be the one to sit back and observe. This balance is essential to allow for the proper environment for learning and development.
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