Learning design principles tell us that the first step to starting any training program is training needs analysis. Therefore, prior to developing eLearning courses, it is essential to take stock of the training needs that the courses are expected to address. This helps to develop the right courses that bridge performance gap and ensure expected standards in output.
However, training needs analysis is not as easy as it seems. Where does one begin? Here are seven questions that help you make a start with respect to the training needs analysis. Answers to these questions can guide you on the direction to take with respect to your eLearning courses.
1. What are the competencies or skills necessary for employees in the department? That is, for a given job function or a position, what is the ideal knowledge or competency level that you wish to maintain. This helps freeze the expectations and provides direction toward the goal that needs to be achieved.
2. Do your employees have these skills or competencies? Once you have figured out the ideal knowledge and skills levels expected from employees, you need to ask if your employees have these skills or competencies? If you notice a gap in the skills level, you will need to identify the skills gaps. These will be the learning objectives of the course.
3. Can the gaps be bridged through eLearning? In what way will the courses help employees? In other words, what are the Performance goals that are expected to be achieved as a result of the eLearning program? The more specific the performance goals the better because it gives a clear direction to the developers in the way they orient the eLearning courses.
4. What is the profile of employees who need to receive the training? An Audience Analysis is essential to determine the way eLearning can be developed. For example, if the audiences are sales people or service engineers who are on the move, developing courses that are compatible with mobile devices could be a good option. Similarly, if the training is for technicians or shop floor staff who may not have advanced computer skills, course navigation and structure needs to take into account these factors. More videos with minimal interactivities will need to be included.
5. How can you collate the content required for training? Once you know the “what” and “why” of the training program, you will need to come to the “how” factor. Training content is extremely important and this is crucial to determine the effectiveness of the program. You may have existing content that needs to be collated and you might need to obtain specific content in consultation with SMEs for the purpose. A good Content Analysis ensures your eLearning course is not derailed and is on track.
6. When and how will the training be rolled out? It is essential to learn the Time frame for training development because this helps determine the methods and tools that are used for designing the training program. An understanding of the Deployment methods (courses hosted on LMS, intranet or standalone CDs) will help developers because they can take into consideration the bandwidth, browser compatibilities and other such factors during development.
7. By what means will the training be developed? The training needs will give clues on the best possible methods of developing the online training program. Depending on the budget and time frame available, your eLearning developer will be able to guide you on the ideal authoring tools that can be used for the purpose. Ideally, you need to have the training developed in a format, which allows for training content to be updated as and when required.
Finding answers to these questions may need investing some time and effort. Having answers to these questions enables you to guide your eLearning developer to produce training content that is effective, purposeful and successful in meeting all the training goals. So, it is worth the effort. What do you say? Do let us know your thoughts on this.