How would you design this?

Scenario - CEO tells trainer to develop 'elearning' content that will be used not only in house, but to help other organizations with there training and to demonstrate best practices.

The job really requires a lot of hands on learning (Animal care industry) and policy and procedure.

How do some of you experts approach an Entry level training\Course when your audience has no experience or at best relative experience.

Scenario based classroom training prior to actually performing the task? Or just on the job training with job aids? and then how do you present that to an outside organization? Video?

Anyone have examples of effective Job aids, We currently have the stereotypical "check list" posted in work areas and I don't think I need to tell anyone how useless these are.

Sorry just feeling over whelmed not only with the task at hand but the amount of good information I have taken in from websites like this leading me to second guess everything.

8 Replies
Dave Neuweiler

Hey, we've all been there.

I'm not going to write a long post, but I'll get it started with this...

Have you (or the CEO) defined what the learners will need to be able to do when they complete the training?

That's really the first step in getting a handle on things, because if you don't know where you're going, it's really hard to know when you've arrived... and the "content" will just grow, and grow, and grow.

Getting the objectives down will guide you to the needed content!

Natalia Mueller

In addition to what Dave said, once your stakeholder determines what he wants in it (or if that's your choice even better) separate it into what do they need to KNOW and what do they need to leave this training being able to DO. Then how imperative are each of those things. That helps prioritize resources. Then I take a look at what prerequisite information/skills do they need to execute the objectives. Is it extensive enough to require it's own course? Self study? Instructor led? Webinar? Depends on the material. This let's me determine the scope of the whole training curriculum.

What I do not do is try to take a person from novice to expert in a single online course, which can often be what stakeholders are expecting.

The project I'm currently working on is a decent example. The "entry level" material is in elearning to build a foundation. The "Need to KNOW" material is referenced but included as Resource Attachments. There are required hands-on practice exercises to reinforce what was in the course. Then the more complex elements are included in On the Job Training. Managers/supervisors are given a manual of topics to cover with the employee and any needed support materials. Elements that require remembering clear steps have job aids for reference. Yes, they can be completely useless. But they can also be very effective when they are designed the way an end user would design their own "cheat sheet".

If yours is a topic that experienced employees already know, check with them to see what kind of materials they have created on their own. Even if you don't replicate them, they can give great insight into what areas need job aids. Beyond that, the less formal the better. When someone is referencing a job aid to get thru a task, it needs to be very user friendly or else they end up like you said, useless.

I got good results from a set once that included many pages. Our team edited the steps down to the bare bones, formatted them into post card size, had them laminated and bound on a ring. The most important part was the clear table of contents. The user could scan it, flip to the correct page and be on their way.  

When I'm feeling overwhelmed, I back up and make sure I'm looking at it from a high enough level to start with. Like Dave said, map out those objectives. Then see how they need to be broken up into individual/support topics. I do not start looking at detail content until I have the program structure laid out. What will the end users need to be successful? Then what are the different ways I can give them that? What would be the most effective? What is feasible given the time and budget? If I can't go with exactly what I'd like to do, what is another way I can present it? Time and budget limitations can trigger some serious creativity.

I'll stop there. This is a great topic and while I hope you get the help you need, I'm also interested in seeing what else the community adds.

Huey Chin Teo

I think, first of all, you got to:

1) Map out your learning objectives according to Bloom's Taxnomy, once you have these, it is easier for you to determine which level of training to target. Then map your instructional design strategy accordingly to the learning objectives.

For example, if your learning objective is about "Apply the procedure to perform first aid on dogs", then a scenario based training will fit this learning objective.

Then if the learning objective is "Describe the procedure to apply first aid", maybe video based training with subtitles and or job aids might suffice.

2) Whether the training needs to be in video or animation, it depends on your client, the content and your in-house expertise. If you think video is too much of a hassle, you want to draw or animate stuff. Do you have the personnel? Most of the time, shooting a video helps to take valuable time off production timeline. Next, you also got to consider if the richness of the media, is video too over elaborate. Sometimes photographs can just explain what you want to teach.

3) Understanding the target audience is also important. Are your learners majority young people or Gen X? Different age groups have distinct learning styles like VATK learning styles. It is recommended that you cater to all the learning styles as much as possible.

Hope these information can help you.

Pam Jones

I echo all of the above -  asking "what do you want the learner to be able do" is key. Sometimes, saying to a client that they need to write learning objectives might not make sense. A recent project I was involved with, where I tried to get learning objectives from the client but they didnt seem to understand why. So, a simple "what do you want the learner to be able to do" seemed to get through. The answer to this questions guides you to write those objectives from which the content stems.

EHS Trainer

Thanks for the Feed back everyone greatly appreciated. The "what do you want the learner to be able to do" is a constant message delivered through many elearning blogs,forums and sites, I first came across it on Cathy Moores site and action mapping.

@Huey - I am training high percentage gen Y with a little Gen x and even a baby boomer.  So definiltey here you on making sure it applies to all. I think video will end up being a big part of what I do. I have a camera, just need a decent mic. Software I have captivate 5.5 due to the amount of software training involed at higher levels of training.

@Natalia - "not do is try to take a person from novice to expert in a single online course"  This is a statement is one I need to remind myself a lot when I train. I am hardest on myself when after training someone if they don't have it down yet. I am always going to experienced employees for "new ways" never thought to ask them about the methods they may have used when starting out.

@Dave - Well the CEO just gave me her "vision" which wasn't much. I can almost gaurantee her elearning vision was the "wall of text, and or bullet points  followed by a Quiz" method, and I was heading down that road myself until I came across some of these elearning forums and blogs.  Considering I am the SME I will have to look at my objectives again and define them better because the content was definitly growing and growing

Natalia Mueller

That can be a challenge for any SME or any ID working with a SME. It can help to remember (or tactfully remind) that a subject matter expert has gained that expertise through experience and time. It can be very tempting to want to "give" the learner the sum total of that experience. Unfortunately, I don't know that it will be possible to do that until we have ports to upload info directly into our brains Matrix style  

I will often begin my meetings with a SME with a conversation along those lines and tell them that my goal is not to condense all of their knowledge into a single course, but instead strip it down and find the fundamental pieces that will form a foundation for the learner (also known as The Basics). Once the learner has that, THEN we can talk about how to build on it and support them to bring them up to speed. 

Speaking of Cathy Moore, if you haven't seen it yet she made a great piece called Dump the Drone which I LOVE to show SMEs when the opportunity presents itself. Tom K (of Articulate) then took that content and created a demo to show ways to present material beyond the standard bullet points. Both are free, not remotely boring and definitely worth checking out.

(For the rest of the community, I know I post these all the time but I can't help but share them over and over again with newcomers! These and the Building Better Courses series are just too helpful to not pass along)

Dump the Drone by Tom K

Dump the Drone by Cathy Moore

Building Better Courses by David Anderson (since I mentioned it)  :)

Good luck, EHS Trainer!

Dave Neuweiler

When you don't get a clear vision from the powers that be, it can be helpful to try to remove the "fuzziness."

One way you can do this is to ask the question (of the powers that be), " What are the things that a person would be doing that would satsify you that they're doing the job the way you want?" In other words, what does the desired performance look like.

You may get vague responses, too, like:

  • They should be on time.
  • They dress professionally.
  • They show empathy toward the customer.
  • They keep accurate billing records....

And so on. These are probably weak examples for your case, but I hope you get the idea.

Then you ask follow-on questions like:

What's the starting time, and how much leeway is there?

What's "professional dress?" Is it a white lab coat, closed-toe shoes, and black trousers?

What does "showing empathy" look like?

What would you consider an accurate billing record?

If you continue this process, you'll eventually drill down to some things that you can call performance objectives... and that is where you want to be.

Hope that helps!

Minh-Triet Nguyen

Another way to get training requirements is to look at the learners' climate in the absence of training.  If your training didn't exist, how would people learn the job?  What isn't working with their current learning process?  These types of questions help stakeholders evaluate the need for a training program, as well as fish out methods that may have been attempted but missed the mark.

Also if your target audience are mostly Gen Y, consider informal approaches to learning like creating discussion boards, blogs, or even a dedicated hashtag on Twitter: things that can help continue to cement learning as well as leave a legacy of information for future classes. Speaking of video, I think what Youtube has taught us is that content trumps production values.  Interviewing an SME about content should be less about snappy dialogue and more about what helped them get to where they are now.