Training Design/Delivery Boot-Camp: Topic Suggestions Needed

Jan 28, 2014

If you had only 2 days (10 to 14 hours of face time) to teach a subject matter expert (SME) everything you could about adult learning, training design, & training delivery, which areas & competencies would you focus on and why?

What resources would you draw on? 

13 Replies
Nicole Legault

I would focus on teaching what "task-based" training is all about and how to do a task analysis.

By doing a task analysis I mean... how to break down a process into a step by step procedure.

It's my belief that if you're not teaching someone how to actually do something, it's not really training, it's a presentation. 

At the end of the day, I feel like good training really boils down to solid instructional design and task analysis is one of the most important areas of being able to develop meaningful training that impacts how people actually do their jobs. Which is generally what adult learners are interested in: how can I apply this to my job right now!

Personally I would focus on practical and teaching the SME how to actually DO things, instead of just giving them with information about "what is adult learning" and "theories of learning" etc.... how do you actually make learning interesting for learners? Make it meaningful and make it have an impact on their real job.

My two cents!!  

Holly MacDonald


In addition to Nicole's advice (+1 on all of it), I'd probably share the conscious/competence ladder:

I have found that if you frame the discussion around the fact that there are different levels of competence and recognizing that your SME knows their stuff, but to help new learners they need to boil things down or else its too big of leap to go from knowing nothing to knowing everything. It's a model that SMEs seem to be able to grasp. It also gives you a bit of language around helping them gain awareness about biases they may have ("don't forget you are a level 4, we need to think about this as a level 1").

Then, I'd share information on the cognitive load - - and as this can help them understand WHY you need to construct things for learning, recall, etc.

Hope that helps


Sarah Redmond

That's a lot to cover in two days only! I guess I would go a different route, and this is assuming that most of what they will then be presenting is face to face rather than online (which with your target list seems to be what's happening).

I would look at "storification" of their subject matter, teasing out the examples of their work that will have relevance to the audience and increase retention of key points, then move on to "chunking" and/or cognitive load as suggested above.

As you move forward from here and look at bringing them back together down the track, this can easily translate to e-learning preparation or higher level presentation skills sessions.

Mike Taylor

This reminds me of something Clive Shepherd did awhile back called "60 Minute Masters" which he created for this very purpose.  

There are three 20 minute modules: 

Outline for Module I: Prepare

1. Set a realistic goal

2. Consider the content from the learner’s point of view

Outline for Module II: Inform

3. Hook learners in emotionally

4. Present your material clearly, simply and in a logical order

5. Illuminate your material with imagery

6. Consider using audio.

Outline for Module III: Consolidate

7. Put your material into context with examples, cases and stories

8. Engage users with challenging interactions

9. End with a call to action

My original link isn't working anymore but here is a version we have. and there is a  Moodle course version here which you can access as a guest. 

Rebekah Massmann

For me, it's going to depend on what they will be doing as a SME. For example, are you training SMEs to be trainers? Will the SMEs be assisting with or leading course design or development? My approach would definitely differ for those two objectives, and I'm sure there are other possibilities. Can you provide some more information?

Rebecca Fleisch Cordeiro

I personally would at least introduce them to Malcolm Knowles Adult Learning Theory...not a whole book, but at least the meat. There are gazillions of web links out there, but this post by @cpappas does a nice job of encapsulating Knowles' Assumptions about Adult Learners, Principles of Andragogy, and Applying those Principles to Computer Training.

Since our SMEs are Adult Learners and we're wanting to help them with the the task of designing training, we don't want to overload them with content, but cut to the chase! So, the whole book could be provided for their reference, cutting to the chase will help them with the task.

In my many years as an Adult Learner and Facilitator, these are the 5 that jump out at me (and speak to Nicole's right-on remark about task-oriented vs. topic-oriented training)

  • Experience (including mistakes) provides the basis for the learning activities.
  • Adults are most interested in learning subjects that have immediate relevance and impact to their job or personal life.
  • Adult learning is problem-centered rather than content-oriented. (Kearsley, 2010)
    and similarly:
  • Instruction should be task-oriented instead of memorization -- learning activities should be in the context of common tasks to be performed by the others.
  • Since adults are self-directed, instruction should allow learners to discover things and knowledge for themselves...

That provides the foundation for how to approach the learning. Then discuss the content itself and how those principles could be applied through the authoring tool and the virtual meetings. Storyline, with the assorted quizzing options, feedback mechanisms and branching ability is SUCH a rich source for accommodating those 2nd and 3rd bullets.

Recently read a post (can't remember now where but it referenced back to Ruth Clark) that discussed working memory capacity as these 3 things:

  • Intrinsic: out of the control of IDs...inherent to the complexity of the task
  • Extraneous: non-relevant items that are introduced by "us" IDs and that require extra mental processing but don't support the learning.
  • Germane: relevant items introduced by IDs that help point cognitive resources TOWARD the learning and assist with information processing

I think that point also should be made. There are SO many people in these forums who  provide wonderful examples of video, animation, graphics that are germane. Alternatively, I sometimes access training that is lauded because of how much animation is occurring...and I'm so distracted by things whizzing around on the screen that I can't concentrate on the content.

And finally, I mentioned being an Adult Learner and Facilitator purposely. I always try (but don't always succeed ;() in putting myself in the "shoes" of the Learner.

Tx, Owen, for the discussion.

Bill West

Nice response Rebecca. I'm a big fan of Chris Pappas as well.

I'd focus on two things:

1. The concept of performance based versus knowledge based learning, especially if it's elearning, including how to write great scenarios and challenge questions.

2. I'd also focus on the working style/relationship between the ID and SME and how to best make that successful. Each has their own styles and availability, so getting a method that fits into both their working patterns is essential. That's time well spent.

Joshua Roberts

Rachel Barnum said:

I think there is a lot of great content in these two books:

Whenever I get around to it, I want to create concise guidelines for SMEs based on those two books. The other resources everyone has listed have looked wonderful as well!

Allen's guide is definitely a useful resource. Good luck with everything, I'll definitely be checking back here to see the discussion develop. 

I've found initial barrier should be set with the limitation of information being key, most SMEs I've worked with are keen to tell learners the in's and out's of their topic. Passion is a hard area to control and information overload needs to be tended to carefully.

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