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Creating Effective Training Programs (Part 1)

In anticipation of Developing an Effective End-User Training Program, my last workshop on Thursday at the 2015 OmniUpdate User Training Conference, I wanted to get you thinking about how to craft an effective training program. Training employees on a new product can be a daunting task and it’s often hard to know exactly where to begin. This is particularly true at higher education institutions that have limited staff training resources.

From my experience, training end users on a new system is often done “ad hoc” whenever the need arises and is not always conducted in a manner consistent with a formalized plan or design. This makes it harder to repurpose training programs down the road when it comes time to retrain users or train new employees as they are added into the system.

When designing a new training program there are several recommendations I would offer:

  1. Define your training objectives both to yourself (or your training team) and to your target audience. I typically frame training objectives loosely based on the ABCD method. This is a common instructional design methodology for creating clear and scalable objectives.

ABCD:ABCD

A – Audience. Who is the audience and what is their skill level? What are their job functions and how will this training help them in the completion of their job-related tasks? It’s import to understand your audience(s) and provide appropriate material geared toward their specific job function.

B – Behavior. How will this new material affect their behavioral outcomes? In the workplace, the result is a measurable set of new job skills and knowledge.

C – Conditions. What are the training conditions being provided? Is this a onetime training, or will you provide additional resources? Will you provide additional training sessions? I recommend a combination of blended learning, with an equal mix of demonstration, hands-on instruction, and post-training self-learning resources.

D – Degree. What is the recommended standard for acceptable performance at the completion of training? For example, my desired outcome for a typical end-user training in OU Campus™ is that by the completion of training, users are able to log into the system, update their content and images effectively, and either publish or submit their web pages for approval. The degree is dependent largely on your “A” audience. My expectations and objectives for a developer training would be vastly different.

  1. Use your desired objectives as a model and build your training program to accomplish those goals. I’m very analytical and logical, so naturally I tend to favor starting with a plan. It also helps to always keep the end goal in mind through the entire process.

Example: I want to train 100 end users, 25 power users, and 12 developers over the course of 4 weeks. By the end of training, Group A will accomplish objectives xyz, and Group B will accomplish these other objectives. Then work systemically through the logistics, like What will the specific agenda be?, Where will the sessions be held?, What materials will we need?, and so forth. Training programs should be structured and utilize a basic outline, but be flexible enough to adapt to unexpected circumstances.

  1. If you want another cool Instructional Design acronym to help you remember these design techniques, I tend to utilize the ADDIE model here in the OmniUpdate Training Department. ADDIE: Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, and Evaluation. The E is an important, and often overlooked, piece of training. After you design your perfect training program, it’s helpful to have on-going evaluation to determine when you need to offer additional learning resources and follow-up training sessions.
  1. Lastly, don’t forget to package it up! Build your trainings in such a way that they are scalable, and you can easily repurpose the materials and programs again in the future.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of Creating Effective Training Programs, which will feature tips from your OU Campus peers!

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