What’s the Difference Between a Trainer & Facilitator?

Do you describe yourself as a facilitator, trainer, coach, educator, something else?

We’ve seen many experiential educators have a difficult time defining themselves, their role, and what they do.


What’s In A Name?


There is a large misconception that facilitators ensure experiential and playful learning while trainers are only subject experts or lecturers. This couldn’t be farther from the truth.

While many of us are familiar with the Experiential Learning Cycle, far less of us have a full and comprehensive understanding of the four experiential educator roles that accompany the Experiential Learning Cycle and allow for full-cycle learning. This crucial element of Experiential Learning Theory has largely gone under the radar for far too long.

Our friends, the Institute for Experiential Learning, take a more holistic approach to the topic. The picture below shows the Kolb Educator Role Profile (KERP.) It is based on a holistic classification of educator roles derived from David Kolb’s experiential learning theory.


The Kolb Educator Role Profile


As experiential educators, we do ourselves and our participants a disservice by not equipping ourselves with the knowledge and tools to flex to each of the four educator roles.

The KERP outlines four roles that vary based on the prioritization of the learner, subject, meaning, or action.

  • Facilitator
  • Subject Expert
  • Evaluator
  • Coach

Kolb Role Profile


Together with IFEL, we believe that effective experiential educators transition through ALL of these roles as they support their participants to maximize learning through the four modes of the Experiential Learning Cycle (Experiencing, Reflecting, Thinking, and Acting.)

Usually, trainers and educators have a preference for 1 or 2 roles over the others; however, we strongly believe it is our duty as trainers to sharpen our awareness and skills to incorporate all 4 roles in our work.

Take a moment to look at the diagram and reflect on your own practice in experiential learning.


Looking To Up-Skill?


In which roles are you more comfortable?

Which roles would you like to challenge yourself to incorporate more in your work?

If you’re interested in learning more about Kolb’s Educator Role Profile and receiving your own personalized assessment, be sure to join IFEL at their upcoming Facilitating Experiential Learning Online course starting 4 August 2021.

IFEL is partnering with playmeo to enhance this workshop experience to make it seriously fun for everyone.

Click the link below to learn more and register.


Learn More




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