Tip 1: Explain the relevance of each course segment, at the beginning of the segment.
Explain how the information in this section is necessary to perform the task or tasks for which the learner is going to be held accountable. In the job-task training arena, this is probably the most effective way to satisfy Gagne's first condition of learning, Gain attention. Studies indicate that when the relevance of information is known prior to exposure to that information, retention is higher.
Tip 2: Always state (or write) objectives in the terms that the learner will be measured in the training environment.
For instance, a properly worded objective in a self-study, CBT, or even a lecture course might read something like "Match a column of words commonly associated with the framus to their respective definitions."
An example of an improperly worded objective statement is "this lesson will teach you the definitions of the words associated with a framus." Unfortunately this type of wording is all too often used when writing objectives. Statements worded like this may be the goal that the designer had when the material was written but from a learner's viewpoint, it is simply not an objective.
Tip 3: Disclose the respective objective(s) at the beginning of course segments (preferably immediately following the explanation of relevance).
Let learners know exactly what they will be expected to do at the end of the segment or training session. This enables learners to start preparing to meet that objective from the beginning of the segment.
Tip 4: Maintain congruence between objectives and job-tasks.
When defining the objectives for any course, ask yourself, is this objective parallel to job requirements, and does it really support worker performance on the job? For instance, let's suppose a learner is being trained to operate and maintain a machine we'll call a "framus." When the framus breaks or does something wrong, the worker is supposed to follow a written procedure to isolate the failing electrical circuit card and then replace the entire card. An objective (with supporting content) that requires the learner to identify the number of circuit chips on each circuit card my be a great exercise in trivia but it is not congruent with the job that person is expected to do at the job-site. Nor does the objective contribute to the performance of job-tasks in any way. Failure to maintain congruence between job-tasks and training objectives invites the design and development of long courses that often fall short in producing required results.
Tip 5: Maintain congruence among content, learner interactions, and objectives
Make sure that the content of learning events, practice interventions, tests, and objectives are all congruent. Developing content, practice interactions, or test questions that dwell on identifying the types of circuit chips on a circuit card when that information is not necessary to meet the stated objective is a waste of time, both from a design and development viewpoint, and also from a learner's viewpoint.
Tip 6: Restrict content to that required to meet objectives and perform job-tasks.
It seems to be a natural phenomenon that many (maybe most) courses seem to have lots of information in them that is really not needed to support the objectives and tasks. If you don’t need it, I'd suggest taking it out.
Sometimes (many times?) designers or developers are pressured to "Put this in - they need it!" If you find yourself in an argument with a subject matter expert (or anyone else) about whether or not you should take something out, be careful. Don't be too eager to win the argument. Ask the person, who insists that the information be included, what would happen if learners were not given that information. What would they not be able to do that they should, or what would they do that they should not? If the answer to both parts of that question is "nothing," then the content should go. Any other answer to that question may lead you to a redefinition of a task or a performance standard for some task that really should have been there all along, and the content stays. Notice verb in the question is "do;" it is not "know." That's not an accident on my part. Keep your focus on performance.
Tip 7: Don't mix and match terms
In other words don't call a device a framus on one page (screen, slide, or transparency) and a dealybop on the next - unless you specifically tell the learner that dealybop is another name for framus - or something like that. Very often in business environments there are many terms used to describe the same object or action. Interspersing new or different terms without properly introducing them degrades the training and gives some learners bad headaches. (It also, justifiably, wreaks havoc with "happy face" evaluation sheets!)
Tip 8: Integrate Job Aids and other support tools into the training.
Job aids and support tools including documentation and electronic performance support systems are put in place for several reasons. Among the reasons is to reduce the time spent on training someone to perform certain tasks. It's somewhat surprising that many training designers seem to shy away from incorporating those job aids in applicable training and "hand those job aids out at the end of the class (or course)." Most of the time the excuse is "but I want them to really understand it." OK, think that through - maybe you have a point in your particular circumstance. Maybe they do need more detail. (I'd suggest you review the tip on restricting content.) But before you declare total victory on this one, keep in mind a couple of points. Some job aids, while being simply great, are not intuitive as to exactly how and when to use them. When those job aids are not included in the training, they can go unused thus eliminating the savings and efficiencies that justified their development. Don't fail to integrate teaching job aids or performance-support-tools and provide practice in using them.
© Pete Blair 2005 - 2017