Best way to handle a knowledge dump?

Jul 09, 2022

Hi Family,

I have been asked to redo an Annual Refresher course that is currently a knowledge dump. Thanks in advance for all of your help.





6 Replies
Bianca Woods

Hi Stephanie,

I'm sure your learners will be delighted that you're making this annual training less of a knowledge dump!

How to fix these kinds of courses depends a lot on how much you're allowed to adjust. That said, here are some questions I've used in the past to figure out what I can do to make courses like this better:

  • Can we use a pre-test to let people who already know the content test out? This doesn't make the course less overwhelming, but it does mean not everyone has to take the entire course.
  • Is there information in the course that doesn't connect to the learning objectives? Some subject matter experts and stakeholders are hesitant to cut anything. But if you've agreed on a set of learning objectives, it can sometimes make discussions about cuts easier because you can flag content that doesn't connect to your goals for the course.
  • Are there opportunities to simply teach people where to find the information when they need it? Nobody can remember everything from a knowledge dump course—particularly long after they complete the course. For rarely used information, it's often more effective to teach them where to find that info in the moment rather than hope they can keep it memorized forever.
  • Can we include some of the content as resources or optional tips? Moving nice to have information to resources/tips can be a good compromise. It's all still in the course if someone needs it, but the niche or in-depth content that not everyone needs is tucked away.
  • Are there stories I can use to connect the content to learners' real life? Stories are an amazing way to break up tedious content and help learners see how it actually plays out in their work.

Also, if you get a lot of pushback about cuts and pressure to include EVERYTHING, one thing I've found helpful is to do the math on how much long courses cost the company versus streamlined ones.

Let's say you're delivering annual compliance training to all 2,000 employees at a company, and on average they make $20 an hour. If that training is an hour, each year it costs the company $40,000 in employee wages (not to mention the productivity loss of having them away from their jobs for an hour). If you can make equally effective training that's only 30 minutes, it only costs the company $20,000—half the price! Even subject matter experts who love the content may give you more wiggle room if you can save $20,000 yearly.


Hi Bianca! 

You're the best for taking time to share some awesome approaches to how I might go about handling this knowledge dump! I will explore them to see where or what I can cut as well as direct folks to where to find the information verses keeping it all in the course. I will say the SME asked me to ask their other stakeholders about eliminating a few area topics when I inquired, they suggested I inform the SME the topics needs to remain in the course. It's a pharma culture lots of the training (i.e. SOP's) are forever changing or being revised. 

Any suggestions tips for learner engagements to apply?


Thanks again,


Bianca Woods

That's definitely a tough situation to be in. On the plus side, since things are constantly changing that actually helps the argument for teaching people how to look things up rather than trying to include all the information in the course.

If things change often, you really don't want your learners to think they just need to learn the content in the course and they're good to go. Teaching them that the best course of action is to look up the latest version of the process (and even being upfront about how often those processes can change) means they'll be more inclined to do the right thing on the job rather than rely on out-of-date info they learned in a course.

Also, in some situations making a knowledge dump course better ends up being an incremental process. If your stakeholders are hesitant about large-scale changes, you might need to start with a smaller number of improvements. Then, once they see they're effective, you can make more changes for next year's version. It's not the ideal way to improve a course, but incremental changes over time can be an easier sell and they're a lot better than leaving the course as-is.