Participant Centered Training and Personal Knowledge Management

Bob Pike is responsible for introducing the concept of participant centered training (PCT).  He’s been in the training industry since 1969 (the year I was born, incidentally), but focused on PCT since 1979.  Needless to say, PCT is not a new idea.

Traditionally, corporate training has been conducted by a “talking head,” a subject matter expert, who imparts her or his wisdom to waiting students.  The assumption of this kind of training is that the students are sponge-like, highly motivated, and that they will somehow find a way to absorb what the trainer is saying, or to mimic the trainer’s behaviours, and be able to magically transform that information into the performance their employer desires.  But how does the average learner, who may or may not be sponge-like, accomplish this feat?  That’s the problem.

PCT turns that paradigm on its head.  The trainer is merely present to elicit the desired knowledge from the learners, to encourage the appropriate behaviours, and to facilitate the process of discovery that will lead the learners to exhibit the desired performance in the workplace.  It’s no longer about having all the answers, but about being able to help the learners, now active participants in their own learning, find the answers for themselves.

Not the “sage on the stage.” Instead, be the “guide on the side.”

Primarily, PCT is a classroom methodology, and that is how it’s often taught, but once learned, the principles can be applied to any kind of training.  If you can design the right kinds of activities and ask the right kinds of questions, it’s still possible to implement PCT online in synchronous courses, or even online, asynchronously.

It’s the facilitation (or the framework) that’s the key.

I took an introductory course to PCT delivery in 2009 and in September of 2011, took the next course on my way to training certification within my organization.  There’s a lot more to PCT than what I’ve mentioned here, but that’s the key learning behind PCT.  How the trainer, or designer, accomplishes it has been the subject of books, academic papers, and the foundation of many a training business.

It could also be the innovative trainer’s ticket …

So check it out.

Some resources for you:

I’m a novice at this whole training gig and I know I have much farther to go.

Case in point: Harold Jarche.  The man has seriously been blowing my mind in the last weeks with his posts on his blog: Life in perpetual beta.  I cannot articulate the awesome right now.

Just go read his blog.  Follow it.  Become a PKM disciple 🙂  What’s PKM, you ask?  That would be personal knowledge management.

PKM takes PCT and turns that paradigm on its head 🙂  The learner is ultimately and intimately in control of their own learning and in many ways takes facilitation out of the equation altogether.  As a newbie trainer it freaks me out a bit, but PKM is the way I prefer to learn, through networks and connections, and as an addicted learner, I’m a fan.

Acronyms abound!  So what do you think?  PCT or PKM?  A liitle from column A and a little from column B?  Does it depend on the learning situation?  Can PCT be a stepping stone on the way to PKM?  Tell me what you think.

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