By Ashraf Al Shafaki
It is not enough that a student would understand a new concept, instruction or technique. It is of great importance that the learner practice with his own hands using such a newly learnt element. Creating something is one of the best ways to really absorb what one has just learnt. Constructing something with what one has learnt helps in digesting and fully understanding the newly learnt elements. It also helps one become efficient in using such learnt elements next time one is in need of using them. Students must learn by doing.
Playing is one of the best ways to learn. Children are fast learners due in large to their usage of play. Playing can be a speedy way of learning new things and learning them well. Playing enables one to tackle new situations, understand concepts well and discover new ideas. Play also opens the doors for creativity and the ability to create and problem solve. Play is a great motivator as well as a strong mental enabler.
Let students play with the new concept they have just learnt. Let them create things with it. Let their brains go wild. The problems to which students can use the newly learnt concept can be demanding ones and realistic but do not need to be of practical use. While examples you introduce to students should have direct practical value, the creations of the students themselves do not need to be of practical value. You should encourage students to create things with the new concept they have learnt if only for the fun of it. This is an excellent exercise for the brain and allows students to feel comfortable in using such newly learn concept.
One interesting variation you can resort to during a training session is to let a student explain some concept to one of his colleagues or to the rest of the class. You can use this technique when there is some concept that you have already explained before but still one or more of the students cannot get it while there are others, or at least one other student, who understands it well.
Of course you yourself, the instructor, understand the concept well but letting one of the students re-explain it has two benefits. The first benefit is that such student would usually be closer to his colleagues in terms of mentality and way of thinking. When your own method of explanation fails to reach some students, a colleague of theirs who understood the concept from you might be better able to communicate that concept to them. This does not mean you are an incompetent trainer, on the contrary, in order to use such a technique you have to be a highly competent trainer with a lot of confidence. This method could work because the student who is explaining the concept to his or her colleagues might have passed through the same mental obstacles to understand such concept and could therefore possible be able to explain it in a way and in a language his or her colleagues would comprehend easily.
The other benefit of using such technique is to provide confidence to the student who is temporarily taking the role of a trainer and to enhance his or her learning process even more. One excellent way of learning something well is to teach it to others. This very technique will provide such student with a better learning experience.
Besides the two benefits related above for using such technique, letting one of the students, if only temporarily, assume the role of the trainer would provide you with some rest and help conserve your energy during the training process. After the student has completed his explanation, you can always make comments or modifications or assertions about what he or she has said in order to correct any errors or assert what has been correctly mentioned.
Allow students to stretch newly learnt concepts beyond their normal usage patterns. Let students reach the limits of using a newly learnt concept. This will give students a more solid feel of the new concept and how it should be used. Using the newly learnt concepts in areas where it is not actually meant to be used helps students get a better grasp on when and where to use such a concept in the future in real life situations.