The eight building blocks for fast and focussed design

IMG_0928This week I have been focussed on designing training, for work that is coming up in this new year and it has made me aware of the process I go through when designing from scratch. I was struck by how fast this process has become over the years and thought I should capture the steps in an easy to follow format.

Being an advocate of accelerated learning, this process compliments my “5 Secrets of Accelerated Learning” as outlined in my Training Journal article of 2013 “Quick off the mark”.

  1. Determine the organisational outcomes

Though stakeholder conversations, determine the organisational outcomes. Ensure that there are measures in place to aid evaluation.

Examples of organisational outcomes:

  • A decrease of 10% in unit costs by 3rd quarter
  • An improvement in the customer satisfaction rating from 75% to 80% within 6 months
  • An increase in employee engagement from 80 to 85% in the next year
  1. Determine the learning outcomes

Using Blooms taxonomy, you should then agree the learning outcomes. The questions you need to ask yourself are:

  • Is the learning knowledge, skills or attitude?
  • What do they need to know before they can develop their skills?
  • At which level of Blooms taxonomy do they need to be at, by the end?

You know if the learning outcomes are correct, because they can either be observed or measured by the end of the workshop, either formally or informally.

Examples of good strong objectives are:

By the end you will be able to:

  • In a group setting, list at least 5 ways to decrease your unit costs
  • In a role play, demonstrate how to deal with a customer complaints effectively, using the 5 step complaints process.
  • Describe, with the use of notes at least 3 ways in which you will develop yourself in the coming year
  1. Determine a logical flow and order to the learning

Use a mind map to gather all your ideas and then create a logical flow. You will know if you get this right, as during the learning, the learners may be asking questions about topics that are just about to come up.

  1. Plan what they need to know before they arrive

It is always a good idea to prepare your learners for learning (the Preparation phase of David Meier’s 4-phase cycle) and this may involve:

  • Setting expectations (you, them, the materials, style of delivery etc)
  • Asking what their objectives are (I use Survey Monkey and just 2 questions)
  • Pre-reading on the subject, so that when they arrive their route to competence may be shortened
  • Some questions to get them thinking
  1. Brainstorm ideas for activities

Get a blank piece of paper and some coloured pens. Have your mind map and objectives on one side for reference. Have fun thinking up some activities that will engage the learners. Use techniques such as “Props-as-prompts” or “Build a connection” to generate ideas. If you are not used to this, then do this in a group as people are always more creative when with others. Have activities that present the new learning, as well as activities that give the learners time to practice the new learning.

  1. Complete a session plan

The first item to put into your session plan should be a review of at least thirty minutes, at the end. In this review, the learners recap, remember and action plan. In this time they can also give feedback on the learning and complete the evaluation.

Plan in regular reviews; for a programme. These should be

  • Midday
  • At the end of the day
  • The start of the next day
  • Right at the end of the programme

Use the session plan, so that you can review assessments, resources, variety of activities and the flow of the learning. The notes should be minimal and if possible the session plan should be on one page per day. Separate trainer notes can be developed along with the resources.

Put in the breaks and enough time at the start of each day to go over objectives and have a quick review. Fill out the activities, paying attention to the variety of activities and also the duration. Create a break in pace every 20 or so minutes as a rule of thumb. Check the objectives to ensure you can meet them in the time given. If you are pushed for time go back to the stakeholders and agree how you will complete the learning. This cab be done, either by extending the time, pre-work, or post-work. The line managers need to be part of this whole process.

  1. Plan the post-learning follow up work

This is the “Performance” phase of David Meier’s 4-phase cycle. Involve the line managers and use follow up activities to not only reinforce the learning, but inspire them to learn further, as well as assess their performance in role.

  1. Prepare the materials and deliver

Prepare your resources, deliver, evaluate, modify for further runs of the same learning for different groups. Collaborate with other trainers and share ideas to make the preparation of the resources easier and you may be able to re-use what others have created.

If you want to know how to design great learning, that is focussed on achieving organisational outcomes was well as learner objectives, come and join me in Leeds for a Learning Loop open workshop on March 18th-19th.

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