Perhaps nothing impacts the overall value of a training program more than its content. A program with incomplete, incorrect, inconsistent, or confusing content has little chance of preparing learners to complete a task or achieve the desired learning outcomes.
We also know from cognitive research, that well organized content grouped into manageable chunks is better assimilated by learners that poorly organized content.
With this in mind, the focus of this post is to highlight obvious, but often overlooked rules related to training content. For a training program to be of high business value, the right content needs to be included in the program, the content needs to be well organized, and it needs to be presented in a manner that facilitates learning.
In this post, I’ve grouped criteria into three categories: (1) program content, (2) organization and flow, and (3) elaboration and presentation. Listed below are criteria associated with each category.
- The overall breadth and depth of the training content is well matched to the program’s goal
- Prerequisite knowledge and skills, assumed in the design of the training program, are clearly identified
- The means to attain the prerequisite knowledge and skills are identified and made available to the learners
- The content of the program is well matched to the prior knowledge of the target audience, reducing content redundancies and gaps
- The content of the program is comprehensive, factually accurate, and current
- The content of the program is consistent with the organization’s processes and procedures
Organization and Flow
- An overview is provided at the beginning of the program (and each section) to provide learners with a clear picture of how the content is organized
- Content is organized in an appropriate sequence, such as hierarchically, procedurally, deductively, inductively, or by increasing complexity
- Content is chunked into smaller segments to facilitate learning and comprehension
- Clear transitions are used between sections to bridge one segment to the next, help learners understand the connection, and help the content flow
- Graphic organizers are provided to help learners organize content conceptually
- Concluding statements are used at the end of a section or program to draw closure to the learning experience
Elaboration and Presentation
- Important points are highlighted and emphasized
- Visual displays including maps, tables, charts, and pictures are used to facilitate the communication of information
- Both examples and non-examples are used to illustrate a concept or make a point
- Examples and analogies that are well matched to the organization are used to enhance understanding of the content
- Learners are encouraged to elaborate on the content by formulating their own examples and analogies
- Stories that are well matched to the organization are used to enliven the content and communicate a point
This post highlights rules for selecting, organizing, and presenting training content. While the rules may be viewed as “common sense,” they are often overlooked. Meanwhile, the business value of a training program is dependent upon the training content. In addition, design decisions regarding the use of different training methods, strategies, and media are based upon the training content.
In closing, for a training program to be of high business value, the right content needs to be included in the program, the content needs to be well organized, and it needs to be presented in a manner that facilitates learning.