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Certified Facilitator of Adult Learning

Course Design Essentials for Successful Teaching & Learning

Certified Facilitator of Adult Learning Course Design essentials with man and woman standing on blackboard raised hands to the sun

Whether you are a corporate trainer, a professional sharing your technical skills, a workshop teacher or presenter, you are an educator. What you share is important, but more important is how you share it.

CFAL is a Train the Trainer course designed for everyone who teaches anything to just about anyone.

This online course provides you with the tools you will use in both developing courses and in discovering the root causes of poor performance requiring additional training.

At your own pace and in your own time and with the assistance of an expert mentor you will learn how to:

  • Approach adults as active learners,
  • Analyze behaviors to determine the root causes of performance problems.
  • Identify the sequence of events necessary to accomplish a task.
  • Write behavioral objectives.
  • Integrate content and objectives to design active learning experiences.
  • Ask questions that facilitate adult learning retention.
  • Evaluate learning outcomes.

Once completed, you will receive a framed certificate stating that you are a 

Certified Facilitator of Adult Learning.

The Backstory of CFAL

My Initial Training

I graduated The Ohio State University as a physical therapist. After spending two years in clinical practice, I was asked to teach in a community college physical therapist assistant program.  I had no teaching experience. And to this day I have no idea how the students learned anything from me. I’d prepare a lecture, give a lecture, demonstrate a technique, and then give an exam. It was all about me. I was the star and the students had better well keep up with me or be left behind. My students liked me as a person, but struggled with my “know it all” teaching style, which was no style at all, just me trying to figure out how to teach.

Second teaching position

Two years into teaching at the community college level I attended a workshop at a major university and during the workshop the Director of the Physical Therapy program asked me to join the faculty as an instructor. Here we go again – I had a bachelor’s degree, two years experience teaching, and I still didn’t know how to teach. I took the position.

Best career decision I ever made. The director became my mentor. Bella was her name. During her doctoral studies, she met Malcom Knowles, the Father of Adult Learning and frequently brought him to campus for faculty workshops.

Bella J. May
Dr. Bella J. May
Malcolm Knowles
Dr. Malcolm Knowles

What I learned from Bella and Malcom

I learned that learning procedures by “show and tell” does not prepare students for a profession or career or job. 

Facts change. Procedures change. What prepares students for the future is learning how to think, solve problems, and apply critical thinking skills in different situations.

I learned that knowledge alone is not enough to be successful in any field. That developing attitudes and values are just as important as memorizing information.

I learned that to be effective, teaching must be competency-based and learner-centered, not teacher-centered. It’s easy to prepare a lecture. It’s more difficult to write an objective that tells the learner specifically what they will be learning and design experiences so they can reach the objective. 

I remember late-night faculty meetings where I would present the objectives for the next course I was going to teach and those objectives would be reviewed, modified, and eventually approved BEFORE I wrote the first lecture or planned the first learning experience. Objectives were so important to the curriculum that every course objective from every professor was reviewed by the entire faculty before being accepted for teaching.

Dr. W Edwards Deming
Dr. W. Edwards Deming

Along came the meeting with Dr. W. Edwards Deming   

Dr. W. Edwards Deming, the Father of Total Quality Management was a statistician and business consultant. By the time I met Dr. Deming I had attained my Doctorate Degree in Adult Education and moved on from my faculty position to corporate training in local business, industries, and school systems. As a member of my city’s Chamber of Commerce, I attended several of Dr. Deming’s workshops and became highly involved in TQM (Total Quality Management) training in the city. 

It’s about Empowerment

Dr. Deming’s approach was about empowering the worker to participate in the work process. 

Competency-based learning is about empowering the learner to learn. 

Traditional business and education empower the superior who tells the inferiors what to do and when to do it. It’s a top-down hierarchy. Great when you are on top, can be miserable if you are on the bottom. 

More than that, some folks at the top have large egos, that’s how they got to the top in the first place. It is very uncomfortable for them to empower anyone below them because they feel like they are giving their power away. Like there is not enough power to go around. 

The reality is that when everyone, top to bottom in a company is working towards the same goal and has input into how that goal is achieved, then the company prospers. Companies with integrity know that.  Unfortunately, from the stories I hear and see today, the top still feels threatened by the bottom. 

Empowerment does not mean that the top can’t steer the boat. It does mean that everyone gets a chance to get the boat to shore. 


There is an old story about power that has floated around for decades. Here’s how it goes.

On a dark and stormy night, the Captain of a Navy ship was trying to get into formation for battle simulation and lost his way in the storm. Ahead of him, he saw a light. As he got closer he realized it was in his way.

“Move your vessel” the captain roared.

“Move yours” came the reply.

“I’m a Captain and my ship is on a very important mission tonight. Move your vessel”

“I’m an Ensign, Move yours”

“I outrank you and I am ordering you to move your vessel at once” replied the Captain.

“I’m a Lighthouse, move yours” replied the Ensign.

The Game Plan

The single most important component of empowerment is who knows what is happening. Who has the “game plan”. If I give a lecture or write a blog telling you how to do x or y, I have the power, I have the game plan.

When I write an objective, saying “After completing this program you will be able to x or y” then you will know what is expected and can hold me to it if you don’t “get it”. We will share the power.

We will have a contract – you (the teacher) have something I want to learn and I (the learner) will pay you (or my job will pay you, or my review to your advertiser will pay you) to teach me that.

Playing on a Level Field

The course design you will learn in Certified Facilitator of Adult Learning is a level field design. I have written objectives centered on what you will learn.

As a facilitator of learning it is my responsibility to provide you with resources, information, and feedback based on my analysis of what is needed for you to meet those objectives in your own way and in your own time. 

You will use those resources to design a course that you will teach, in the area of expertise you are working in. The content is yours. I am here to facilitate the process.

Active Learning

As an educator/trainer/teacher, you may have lectures and demonstrations and all the traditional stuff in your course.

The lectures and readings in CFAL are there because my analysis determined that specific information was necessary at a specific time for your to progress. In CFAL I use mini “blogs” in place of video lectures so you may refer back more easily to a phrase or concept. I have designed feedback quizzes to help you highlight the main information. Your part is self-paced, active learning. 

Completion of CFAL

CFAL is not a fluff course, where you watch a series of videos and take a test at the end that you must pass in 3 tries. In my mind all that tests is how well you listen and how well you memorize and says a bit about your short term memory.

There is no “final exam” in CFAL. There is a final project, your course design.  You demonstrate that you have met all the objectives of CFAL by successfully designing your own usable, workable course that aligns with the principles of adult learning and the stated course objectives.

By going through this process, you have become a Certified Facilitator of Adult Learning. 

We are partners in this learning experience.


Jill Henry, EdD author Well-Being
Dr. Jill Henry
Video Script
Why become a Certified Facilitator of Adult Learning? Why take this course. 5 reasons 1.Your training class needs to be more effective. Passive training techniques cost businesses millions of dollars each year  in employee re-training and new hiring. The cycle goes like this.  First you train, then you notice poor performance so you re-train. If re-training takes more time and money, often resulting in the employee quitting or being fired. And so the cycle beings again with the hiring of a new employee. It’s like throwing money down the toilet. Reason’s 2 and 3 for taking this course 2. You have been asked to train as a part of your job. 3. You want to get into training. Here it’s all about course design and learner retention. For example, retention of material covered in a lecture is about 5% after 2 week.  On the other hand, retention after having to do a group project involving each group member teaching what they found is around 90% after two weeks. Reason 4 for taking this course. You want to know the secrets in training. A big secret is how to shift attitudes, from bored or angry to happy and enthusiastic. Reason 5 – you want others to be able to do what you do.