Ideas for a fibre networking spatial course

May 23, 2017

Hi all

I am building a course for telecommunications engineers for use in Spatial Net.

The content is really dry with plenty of software menus and functions and Id like to create an interesting course that a learner can also quickly access facts when they are on shift.

I am struggling to come up with the 'story' to use a backdrop and would love some ideas or inspiration.


Many thanks


4 Replies
Christy Tucker

What about a storyline with an engineer solving problems using the software? For software training, stories usually work best when they focus on WHY users would need certain features or when they'd use one feature rather than a different one.

If you're really providing performance support at the time of need rather than training in advance, then the story might be more of a distraction. I'm a big supporter of storytelling in training, but performance support usually isn't the time to do it.

It's not clear from your post whether you're really doing training or performance support. You say you're building a course, but you also say you want people to "quickly access facts" when they're on the shift. Which is it? Those are two separate goals.

If you're trying to accomplish both of those goals, do a course that includes the story, but focus on job aids or quick reference guides for the quick access of steps.

Louise Smith

Thanks Christy

Its performance support mainly but hoping to be rolled out to new employees as part of an induction process. Its all about managing a national broadband network using online maps.

That's a good point - the story will be a distraction, but I need to add something to make it less dry (and keep me awake while developing!)


Dave Ferguson

I want to second both of Christy's suggestions. Especially for the new employeees, there are concepts and processes that they need to understand, and customer-support scenarios are a good way to introduce those.

I encourage you not to think of the stories as distractions but as cognitive frameworks that help your new employees make sense out of a mass of details. You may find you can create several stories, and that they help prevent a forced march through all the menus in order, or tracing every possible box in a flowchart before they get to try things out.

(Office-software example: people don't want to learn Excel menus; they want to calculate sales commissions. As they work on a commission example, they learn about entering text, entering numbers, entering calculations, formatting, etc.)

My organization works with pensions. To get some basic concepts across, I might use new hire Louise's career path to talk about enrollment, about contributions (from Louise and from her employer), about years of service, and a high-level explanation of how her pension will be calculated on retirement.

Then I might introduce more detailed support situations that deal with nuances or special circumstances: Larry is single, Colleen is married; although they work at the same jobs throughout their careers, their pensions will be different. Let's see why...

At the end of X number of scenarios, you'll have covered all the essentials and seen all the important aspects of processes that newcomers need.

At the same time, if I developed job aids (which are intended to be used on the job), then I'd include them in the training. That's because job aids reduce the time needed for learning. "In this scenario, use the Early Retirement Reduction job aid to calculate the pension estimate." The job aids might stand on their own for experienced employees -- storing information to use on the job, reducing the need for memorization. And since they're a tool used on the job, training for new hires includes using these tools.


Christy Tucker

Here's an example of a scenario for software training that I think really adds value. This is just "how to" directions, not an interactive simulation. I love this example because I can find a dozen other pages with step-by-step directions on using layer masks, but none of them explained WHY I would use them better than this. The scenario is merging two wedding photos--a real use for the feature. He starts with a mistake of using an easy but incorrect tool to show why it's a destructive change and not the right choice. It's one thing to tell learners "use this tool, not that one." Will they really do it just because you said to, especially if the wrong choice is easier? Show the consequences for doing it wrong.

Building on what Dave suggested, think about organizing your content around workflows and tasks people will complete rather than organizing it around which menu item does what. That means you set up a problem that an engineer will have where he needs to use the online maps to solve it. Show the features of the online maps in the context of solving a problem. Then show a different problem in the network that requires using different features. That helps the engineers see how it's relevant to them. You'll make them heroes for solving all these problems. You also won't be so bored creating the training.

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