Why Your Salesforce Users Can't Learn it All in One Training Session

Posted by Jonathan DeVore

My first job out of college was in Pasadena California. Just outside of Pasadena, there is a large population of Korean immigrants, and as a community service, I volunteered to teach them English.

My first class was a lot of fun - I used Keynote, and included a lot of graphics bouncing around, English words appearing on screen, and a video of Jack Johnson playing the guitar.

Everybody loved it because it was totally different than the classes they had previously attended. So I continued to do that for the next 11 weeks.

The problem

After the 12 weeks were over, I reflected back on my time as a teacher and realized that I wasn't very good. I was entertaining, motivating, and patient - but that didn't help them learn how to speak English.

In fact, I would say the students weren't any better at speaking English than they were before I taught them. That's because English isn't learned in the classroom - it's learned by repeatedly speaking with native English speakers in the store, at the park, or at a restaurant.

It's learned gradually and personally, through informal training that occurs when the teacher is nowhere present.

What I should have given them were resources for learning English, and then taught them how to use those resources to actually learn. Instead of focusing my time teaching English, I should have focused on teaching them how to learn English. 

What if instead...

What if I had a pretend "restaurant" instead of a Keynote presentation? They could have learned a typical dialogue that occurs while buying a sandwich, and used it multiple times to gain confidence in their ability to converse with a native outside of class. 

What if I helped the students learn how to use a website to create notecards with other dialogues they wanted to use? Once they were comfortable ordering a sandwich, they could move on to pizza or fish, and continue to learn without me by their side.

At the end of the 12 weeks, they would not only have a few memorized dialogues to get them speaking, but they would have tools and the know-how to keep on learning even after I was gone. 

Why did I fail?

I failed because I thought that since I have knowledge, I was the source of all learning for my students. But learning comes through repeated experience - trial and error, failure and success. It happens gradually when the students are ready.

Instead of preparing for a class with the expectation that all learning will occur in the 2-hour session, I should have focused on empowering everybody with confidence to try, and the knowledge of how to use resources (e.g. flash cards) so that when they were in the scenario, they could get the help they needed.

I also should have prepared them with more actionable knowledge. What good is memorizing a list of 50 vocabulary words if they can't (or won't) use them? What good is learning a grammar rule if it never gets used?

Learning happens through repeated experience, and experience occurs outside of the classroom and training sessions. When you're preparing to teach your Salesforce users, don't focus on teaching your topic, focus on teaching how to learn your topic. And give your "students" what they need to continue learning after your training is over.

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Topics: Live Training