Christian Heilmann

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It is official, I am an ELF

Thursday, November 29th, 2007

No, I am not talking about last year’s elf yourself viral pest, but about being an Excellent Learning Facilitator or ELF. This is a training for trainers which turns a lot of your beliefs about teaching and training inside out and by doing so makes you a much better trainer. I normally don’t talk about personal stuff here, so sorry if you expected another JS posts, but I really wanted to talk about this as I think a lot more people should go for it and I am proud to have pulled it off.

The ELF course is held by the UK company Matrix42 and has a lot of cool benefits:

The ELF courses are mapped to the National Occupational Standards for Learning and Development
The Bronze assessment is accepted as evidence of competence for professional membership of the Institute of IT training, as recognised by OCR at Level 3 equivalence on the National Qualifications framework
It is also one of a few qualifications to be endorsed by the British Computer Society (BSC) against their ACTT qualification which is a level 4 qualification on the National Qualifications framework

Beats me what a lot of that means but what I took away from the course is basically that it:

  • teaches you how to make learners find solutions themselves instead of listening to you (thus remembering a lot more)
  • makes you aware of the different kind of learners and how information should be conveyed to them to be easy to take in and to stick
  • teaches you to plan a full learning event and sessions in those to be as useful as possible for the participants
  • makes you aware that you can teach really complex technical courses without computers or monkeying about in front of a powerpoint.

My personal win was to get away from the speaker that I normally am and switch to trainer when I need to. Not everybody who gives public speeches and writes books is also a good trainer, actually it is quite a step from one to the other and you need to set a massive switch in your head.

In my case I messed up my first practical test exactly for that reason: I was more of a presenter than a trainer which made me rush participants. Silence is not a problem and if neither you nor participants in a training talk this does not mean nothing happens. In the heads of the participants there is a lot going on. I changed my pace and stance and voila, the second time I passed with flying colours.

Anyways, I am proud to be an ELF, and I will try my best to use this new approach and ideas as soon as I can bag another workshop or longer training session.