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Nature of Content – A Deciding Factor for Training Design

Is there content that can be taught most effectively only through a certain medium? How do you decide on what should go into what medium of delivery? The nature of content is an important consideration when designing the training solution. Ideally, you should analyze your content thoroughly before deciding on the medium used to deliver the content. Content can range from simple to complex. Content can also have a low shelf-life and get dated quickly. Make sure that you invest eLearning budgets for content that has a longer shelf life.

Any content is for the purpose of imparting:

  • Knowledge
  • Skills
  • Attitudes

At the macro level, all instructional material no matter what the subject matter is tries to answer the following questions:

  • What? (Concepts, facts, principles)
  • How? (Procedures, task-oriented)
  • Why? (Process flows, decision points, best practices, principles)

The intent or purpose of the content will help you take decisions around whether to go for self-paced eLearning, face-to-face learning or blended solution. Specific content lends itself to a specific format. Typically eLearning is ideal for teaching concepts, facts, theory, or anything in the cognitive domain. You can also use eLearning for software simulations. Standard trainings such as process and product trainings also are best taught in the form of eLearning as they ensure a consistent message in the quickest and most efficient way possible.

It is important to have a clear grasp of the kind of content you want to teach and for what purpose. For instance, if you want to impart knowledge, which is primarily factual, or conceptual, it is easy to do this with eLearning in a self-paced module. You could even teach procedural knowledge very easily with eLearning. However when it comes to higher end teaching of decision making, best practices etc. that calls for a situation-based learning with role plays and feedback, it is difficult to teach these complex items through eLearning. Such kinds of content may call for a face-to-face component in which frequent interactions and feedback is essential to go along a certain path of learning. Highly interactive eLearning can help in creating branching scenarios that can also effectively help the learner take decisions and move along a certain track, but then again, such modules are quite cost-intensive and it may not be feasible to put as many scenarios into eLearning as possible. In such cases, you might want to teach preliminary content through eLearning, followed by classroom training, again concluding with eLearning modules. This is what is referred to as a ‘Digital Bookend’ model of learning.

When you analyze content to be able to take decisions around which delivery format is appropriate for what type of content, do keep the type of content in mind as well as the level of learning desired.

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