Want to have more better courses? We do too.
When we first work with our clients we always ask the same question to get started. This question sets the tone for the whole project and becomes the foundation for our work. We start with this question and then use it to build effective and engaging courses that truly change performance or behavior. What is the question?
The question to creating better courses that we ask each and every project team at the start of a project is simple but not easy. It is:
What do you want your learner to be able to DO on their job after they have taken this training?
That is the question – seems straight forward right? Not really. Many times our clients and stakeholders are focused on what their learners need to know not what they need to be able to do. There is a big difference.
When you focus on what a learner needs to be able to DO, you focus on the activities and tasks not the content. So everything boils down to the action that the learner needs to be able to perform not the knowledge they need to have in order to perform the task.
Learning practitioners and subject matter experts struggle with this because it takes more thinking and investigation to apply the content that would be relevant to do something versus just presenting the content in a linear fashion. Also, stakeholders just have a topic and they don’t have time to do the heavy lifting that is required to dig in and figure out how a real person needs to consume the information that they have.
The other reason that this isn’t always practiced is the very framework that most people learned from as they grew up – traditionally you went to class and one person was the expert and they talk to you for an hour or so about the topic. It wasn’t their job to help you synthesize and apply it to real life. That was what homework was for. Unfortunately, in our fast paced workplaces, learners have a ton of things to learn so we need to create not only the context for them but also help them learn what is necessary in order for them to quickly apply it to what they need to do.
This is how learning can be turned into more engaging and effective learning experiences. Start with what they need to do and then tie in the background knowledge they need in order to complete the action. The rest of the content can be included in additional detail or support materials instead of leading with it.
Here is an illustration of what this looks like in action.
- Start: What is the Topic/Learning need –>
- What do you want your learners to be able to DO on their job after they have taken the training? (Where does this topic fit into a learner’s job? What does application look like if they had this topic knowledge?What does the task/activity look like if they were doing it in a way that incorporated this topic? Create activities that match that real life application)
- Lastly ask – what information or background content do they need to know in order to complete the job activity in which this topic is needed?
Here is an example of what each type of training looks like. Which one looks more like your courses?