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Three Tips For Training Adult Learners

Posted By Sammy Feilchenfeld, Training Coordinator, December 8, 2015
Updated: December 7, 2015

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes 


Orientation and training is vital for all volunteers to meet the responsibilities of their role and perform their duties effectively and safely. Without a proper orientation, your volunteers can’t serve as ambassadors for your organization, and without training specific to their role, your volunteer may not be meeting the needs of the community in their work!

Many of the volunteers you’ll be engaging will likely be “older learners” – this means they’re no longer in a formal learning environment (school or post-secondary education). Are you prepared to provide orientation and training for these types of learners? Adults learn in different ways, and it might have been a while since their last formal training experience. They may not be familiar with the etiquette or appropriate behaviour, and they may not have the same skills to retain knowledge!

If you want to make sure you’re providing effective orientation and training for your volunteers, take note of these helpful tips for teaching older learners:

Keep Training Practical

Keep training practical with a variety of techniques (discussions, quizzes, role play) to empower your volunteers to learn by doing and cover more information faster.

Understand Different Learning Styles

Your volunteers may be visual learners, preferring to see what they’re learning to understand it, or auditory learners, preferring to be told or hear something to learn it. There are also verbal, physical, logical, social and solitary learners!

Anticipate Needs

Volunteers may be more engaged knowing there’s food on the way, or a pot of coffee ready. Others may want multiple breaks to stretch, move around, or even socialize. Consider if you’ll allow volunteers to be checking their phone or e-mails, or if they’re able to leave the training session at any time.


Want to make sure you’re providing the best orientation and training for your volunteers – including your older learners? Our Volunteer Management Basics: Orientation & Training is a FREE course for Volunteer Toronto subscribers, and is also free with the purchase of any of our paid courses. Along with more details about teaching adults and older learners, you’ll learn more about planning your orientation, providing great training and ensuring inclusive, accessible and effective facilitation.

Not a Subscriber? Learn more about our great subscription program. Want another way to get access to our free courses? Check out our paid courses – any paid course comes with full access to all free courses!

As Volunteer Toronto's Training Coordinator, Sammy develops and delivers in-person, online and on-demand training in order to support managers and coordinators of volunteers in Toronto’s non-profit and charitable organizations. 

Tags:  adult learners  free online learning  learn differently  learning styles  online learning  volunteer orientation  volunteer training 

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