Keep It Simple

As Instructional Designers, we often find ourselves constrained by several factors that put up walls around what we can deliver. Often these constraints end up forcing us to put everything and the kitchen sink into one training session.

But suppose we looked at those walls as an interior decorating project. In other words, we can use our project constraints to find a more pleasing way to present the information. For starters, training project constraints are especially useful in developing blended learning solutions.

What a lot of people call “blending” I call “keeping it simple.”

Blended learning solutions are a way of delivering a training program in multiple ways that address various learner and business needs. For example, you might supplement a traditional in-class training session with a “prework” reading assignment or provide coaching to support post-course performance. Most training is part of a blended solution; some people just may not know that’s what they’re doing or have a name or process for it.

In today’s technical world, there are all kinds of ways to deliver a course. You can use self-paced online tutorials, social media collaboration, or mobile quick-reference quides. The challenge is to put everything in the correct place. When you meet this challenge, you’ll find that you can simplify the core content, removing clutter and making training so much more effective.

The following 3-step process is one way to go about putting all the training solution “pieces” in the right place.

Start with your task analysis: the result of your task analysis should be a list of tasks that your audience should be able to accomplish as a result of the training.

Analyze each task: for each task, decide whether the task can be delivered live, online, or as a tool (such as a job aid) and when the task is needed.

    Live: This question is asking whether the task must be delivered synchronously. Consider how important the task is. Only the most important task or tasks that require human interaction should be covered live.

    Online: If the task can be delivered in an online format, it doesn't necessarily have to be self-paced elearning. For example, if you're providing a course on how to use your voice better, perhaps the best mode of delivery is a web-based live training.

    Tool: Consider whether the task can be presented in some writen or graphical form to aid the learner in performing the task. Some examples of learning tools are: step-by-step instructions, checklists, online help, flow charts, tables of information, etc.

    When: The timing for when to cover the task in the training program plays an important role in how it should be delivered. For example, don't spend too much time covering topics that people should already know; provide that content in a prework format for people to access prior to the training program's launch. Also, certain "down-in-the-weeds" details can often be provided as part of a performance support system for use as needed after the core training course has been offered.

Once you’ve identified the delivery constraints for each task, you can more easily define their proper “place” in the overall training program. The key benefit to this exercise is that when everything has its place, only the the most important content is presented in each delivery mode. The result is simplifed content that everyone can digest.

If you’re in Raleigh, NC from May 1-3, come see me at the Training Industry Partnering for Performance Conference where I cover this topic along with other key findings in a partnership with Microsoft to deliver a customer-facing eLearning solution.


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