Because the human brain needs constant stimulation to absorb knowledge, trainers should use a variety of learning aids. These could be low-tech tools, flip charts, handouts, slides, or video clips. Lucas has worked with all of these and has numerous ideas for making these training aids more effective.
Low-tech training aids include cloth boards to which instructors can attach information to spur discussion, such as sticky notes, graphics, stickers, flip-chart border-tape, magnetic letters or numbers, or illustrations.
Flip charts are often used in the classroom, and Lucas identifies fourteen ways to make these aids more memorable:
- Creating a title page.
- Limiting the amount of information on the chart.
- Using only the top two thirds of the page.
- Improving visibility by using letters at least 1.5 to 2 inches high.
- Adding relevant illustrations.
- Adding graphic organizers, such as circles or rectangles.
- Tracing images.
- Highlighting pages with borders.
- Planning the pages before creating them.
- Using water-based markers.
- Proofreading in advance.
- Transporting flip charts safely.
- Tearing pages evenly.
- Facing the audience while speaking.
Handouts are a good way to engage visual learners. The content on handouts should not distract learners from the content. Handouts are more stimulating when they conform to the following guidelines: the fonts used are readable, punctuation is used sparingly, the text is easy to understand, the text is in both lower case and upper case letters, plenty of white space is used, key text is highlighted in color, and graphics are used to strengthen the message.
Slides are also used frequently during training. Lucas offers six tips for making slides more powerful:
- Ensure that slides are readable and visually appealing. Use eight to ten lines of text and six to eight words per line. Use a font that is at least 30 points for text and 36 points for titles.
- Build in periodic changes of pace. Use sound and animation sparingly to energize participants.
- Adjust lighting. Dim lights over the screen to prevent glare.
- Plan to be mobile. Using a remote control enables trainers to move around the room during the session.
- Use laser pointers correctly. If an instructor is nervous, he or she should avoid using a laser pointer, which could reveal a shaky hand.
- Devise a backup plan to overcome technical problems. In the event of equipment failure, always have backup training aids, such as transparencies.
Video clips are a way to enhance learning for both visual and auditory learners. To use video clips to their best advantage, trainers should always preview videos to ensure they are accurate and current. They should get copyright permission to show a video. Clips should be no longer than 20 minutes. Instructors must prepare learners to engage with the video by offering introductory comments and providing handouts that capture the important content. To prepare in advance, trainers should ensure that the video equipment works and cue the clip to the opening scene. While the video is playing, the trainer should stay in the room.