We all love a good holiday feast – from the perfect mashed potatoes, roasted turkey, family-favorite stuffing, to the mouthwatering desserts. But if you're the one cooking, you know that there’s a bunch that goes into preparing a successful holiday meal. Designing a successful training initiative has a lot of similarities. From pinpointing the right media to choosing the format, what goes into your training can make all the difference in its success.
Creating the perfect side dish or the perfect training curriculum can take some trial and error. Luckily, our Instructional Designer chefs have years of experience and we’re here to share our secret development process recipe!
Ok, maybe it’s not so secret. But following this five stage process helps us plan out, create, and implement our training initiatives and it can help your teams do the same!
Discovery - Planning the Party
Planning the perfect gathering all comes down to understanding your guests and what they want. Before you start piecing together your feast, you need to know how many guests, when everyone is available, what type of foods they like/dislike, and if anyone has food allergies. For instance, you might bake extra pies because you know they’ll be devoured in no time.
Similarly, understanding the needs and wants of your audience is critical to training success. The first step in planning the perfect training is to consult your subject matter experts (SMEs) to set yourself on the right path. It’s important to leverage their expertise to figure out how you want to deliver your content: will it be an instruction-led training, an online microlearning curriculum, or an on-the-job training?
During the process, you may even realize you need alternate versions of the training for different audiences – whether it be for multiple languages, role-specific content, or any other variations. In the training world, this could be a perfect opportunity to utilize Learner Personas or do an audience analysis. Establishing your parameters, goals, and objectives for the training will help guide you in creating the framework for the development process.
Design - Choosing the Right Recipes
While it might be a dream come true to have a feast that has every possible dish option available, the reality is that your time might be better spent creating the dishes that are right for your guests. The same is true when it comes to choosing what content you’ll put into your training. You may have tons of great reference materials, but you need to narrow it down to the content that supports the best learning experience for your audience. When you’re creating a storyboard for your training, make sure to focus on the critical points and don’t overstuff your content with unnecessary repetition or extraneous details
At this point, you will want to take stock of which ingredients you already have, and what you will need to add to the shopping list. Do you already have a bag of flour in the pantry that you can use? What assets or media do you already have and what do you need to create or acquire? While making a media checklist for your training, ask yourself what type of media will best support your learners’ needs. Do you need custom graphics, animations, video or photo shoots? Pinpointing all the media you need for the training will help guide you as you start on the next step.
Production - Shopping & Preparing the Meal
Now it’s time to go shopping for the right ingredients from our checklist. In the same way we want to choose the best apples for our pie (Granny Smith, no bruises), we want to choose high quality media for our training. Whether you’re using an image library like iStock or creating your own graphics, your media can make or break your learning experience.
Finally, we get to dice, chop, boil, mash, glaze, mix, sauté, and bake our masterpieces! Depending on the project, this could mean anything from firing up your favorite eLearning authoring tool to writing reference guides.
But the work isn’t done after you pull your fresh training content out of the oven – we’ve still got to keep an eye on the food to make sure it’s up to par. We’ll need to check the training modules for glitches, make sure that we followed the recipe – that the gravy has enough salt, and the turkey is cooked through. Because let’s face it, everything could use a little fine-tuning.
Integration - Dinner is Served
You’ve put all this work into making the perfect meal, now it’s time to give the guests what they came for – it’s finally time to rollout the finished training! There still may be a few finishing touches – such as determining assignment criteria/schedules, adding the module to existing curriculums, or retiring older, unnecessary materials. Thankfully, LMS standards like SCORM make it easy to track learner progress, record module completions and scores, and ensure consistency across multiple platforms. Making sure that everybody can easily access your learning materials is crucial to the success of your training initiatives – and your holiday feast!
Evaluation - “So - how was it?”
We all know the banter that follows an amazing holiday feast – “WOW! That pie was delicious” or “That turkey really hit the spot!”. Your guests’ experiences will have an impact on future holiday gatherings. You might have noticed that some people didn’t eat a certain dish or that your stuffing was gone in a blink of an eye – all this information can help you adjust for future holiday festivities.
As important as it is to ask for feedback, it’s often overlooked in the training process. Adding surveys or running reports are both great ways to track sentiment about your training. In addition to getting immediate feedback, surveys and assessments can also be done after weeks or months have passed to gauge knowledge retention. Gathering feedback is essential to continuous improvement as you adjust your training in the future.
Every holiday gathering is unique and so are your learning initiatives – the key is finding that right balance of ingredients, preparation, and getting feedback to set yourself up for a successful training experience.