Organizations are increasingly outsourcing their training requirements – both instructor-led classroom and online training programs. Outsourcing training not only makes economic sense but also translates into a better quality – cost proposition. It also allows the L&D or HR departments to channel their resources into organizational building initiatives.
The process of a training course/ instructional design broadly follows a particular pattern. Being supported by relevant information and data does help to expedite the training design process.
Here are some tips to ensure that you get the most out of your training provider:
1. Provide a clear understanding of the training objectives and goals
The first step in instructional design is to set course objectives and goals. Training objectives are broad statements that indicate what trainees should learn. For example, the objective of the course could be to deliver a basic level of understanding in using excel spreadsheets. Another course goal might be to enable learners to understand company policies or guidelines with respect to performing a particular task such as a sales or manufacturing process.
2. Share relevant literature and existing material for study and review
Once the course goals are set, the instructional designer conducts a broad exploratory study, and review, of literature on the subject. He or she needs to get all the relevant raw content from existing training materials in the form of participant hand-outs, PowerPoint presentations, manuals, articles and/or text books. This study helps the instructional/ course designer to gain an overall understanding of the scope of the subject.
3. Agree on the learning objectives to be achieved
Once the instructional/ course designer completes the initial literature study, you can come to an agreement on the learning or instructional objectives after due discussion. Learning objectives, in contrast to course objectives, should be precise statements that define learning outcomes of trainees after completion of the course, in terms of observable performance.
4. Ensure that the course outline is in sync with your training objectives
A course outline that reflects performance based learning objectives provides the best frame of reference for all the ensuing steps. Developing a course outline entails breaking down the course into modules, topics and sub-topics in a logical sequence. It is usually recommended that a module should address one single learning objective. Therefore, do ask for a course outline and make sure it matches your training objectives.
5. Understand that content has to be repurposed for online delivery
After the instructional designer collates all relevant raw content based on the course outline, it is re-written to suit online delivery. Research has shown that lengthy texts on a computer screen are often skipped. Therefore, text has to be re-written to make it crisp and to the point. Use of bullets, text boxes and bold lettering is recommended to break the monotony of the text. It has to be understood that raw content cannot be used in the existing format but will have to be repurposed to suit the delivery medium.
6. Help in classification of content based on “need to know” and “nice to know”
Instructional designers classify content into “need to know” and “nice to know’. The “need to know” content is essential for achieving the learning objectives, and therefore has to be on screen. The “nice to know” content is related extra information which is not essential, but may be of interest to the learner. This text is usually placed in pop up boxes and under hyperlinks. Therefore, right at the time of delivering the raw content to the course developers, indicate clearly the priority and importance of the content you wish to share with your learners.
7. Review the storyboards and provide immediate feedback
The final step in course design is the development of storyboards. Storyboards are the deliverables from the instructional design team to the production team. A storyboard is a depiction of how the screen should look and how the learning has to be presented in each screen. The instructional designer takes each topic under a module and decides how it has to be presented to maximize learning. He then places the content in a pre-decided storyboard format and instructs the graphic artists and programmers on how to present the learning. The course designer usually sends the storyboards for review to ensure that it is in accordance with the expectations of the client. A faster review ensures on- time development of the course.
When outsourcing your training requirements, especially of an online training or eLearning program, it helps to understand the course design process, to enable you to liaise better with the outsourcing vendor, and provide required inputs to create an effective learning program.
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