How To Get The Most From A Course

Learning is part of everyone’s job. Whether it is learning how to: operate a new piece of machinery, send an email on your new phone, transport dangerous goods, or keep safe on the job. Sometimes courses are required by legislation such as apprenticeships and fall protection. Sometimes courses are required by companies to ensure safety of employees or increase productivity. Whatever the reasons there are steps we, as learners, can take to make sure that that we can remember and apply what we learn in the course.

Before the course starts, think about what you would like to gain from this session. Meet with your supervisor and find out what they expect you to learn. What skills or knowledge do you want to have when the course is over? Think about specific questions that you can ask the instructor.

During the course, there are many things you can do to maximize your learning. Come into the course with a positive attitude. Take the training seriously, and keep your mind on the course (this is not the time to be answering emails).  Write notes, there is evidence that writing notes strengthens the learning process and that typing may actually impair learning.[1] Link the material from what you know already to how you can apply it on the job.

One effective way to take notes is to use mind maps. Mind maps help you to organize ideas or facts in a visual way.


After the course take a few minutes and reflect on what you have learned and how it connects to your work. Write down specific actions you can take to apply what you learned to your job. Are there any specific triggers that you need to pay attention to; such as taking wind speed or temperature into account? Take note of what obstacles might prevent you from using your training and come up with a plan to get around those obstacles. Meet with your supervisor and put together a plan to apply your training. Finally, use your new knowledge and skills as soon as possible. The single biggest factor that will make your determine the success of your training is using it. Use it or lose it.

[1] The University of Stavanger. (2011, January 24). Better learning through handwriting. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 25, 2014 from


I am a instructional designer and developer specializing in Health and Safety Training, and Technical Training on a variety of subjects.

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