We want to resume one of the topics we’re most passionate about: how to create a robust, effective and enjoyable training course. We’ve already covered the onset of the process with step 1: Scope. Now it is time for the step 2: Structure.
On step 1: Scope, you’ll recall we’ve talked about clarifying your purpose, knowing your audience, establishing success indicators and gathering information sources. If you’ve gone through these steps, it is now time to determine the structure of the course. Your structure will determine what information is included, what the learning sequence looks like and the actual delivery format of the content for each topic.
We have created a set of guidelines to help you go through this process quickly and effectively. As we’ve seen before, you should think of this preparation time as an investment. The more thorough you are in this phase of the process, the more robust the end result will be and the more pitfalls you will avoid. The creation of a learning roadmap is not a complex task, but it requires a set of steps you should not fail to complete.
Step 2: Structure
Outline the pedagogical approach
Your approach will be determined by the type of audience and the type of content. You will want to design something that is effective, enjoyable and properly targeted to both. You should also reflect upon any restraints at this point. Define an overall approach, the synopsis (inductive or deductive approach) and, further ahead, a specific strategy and format for each chapter, depending on the content you are going to focus on.
Define a sequence for the themes
Keeping your training purpose in mind, you should now be able to break it down into themes — these will become the master sections of your programme. Let’s say you are designing a new employee onboarding programme: the themes will be the overarching categories that you want to train them on. It can include things like corporate culture, policies and procedures, facilities… After listing the necessary themes to address, put them in a logical order.
Organize themes into modules and modules into chapters
This is the moment to give a title to each of your themes and transform them into units of content — your training modules. Modules can then be split into separate chapters, each focusing on a specific sub-theme. The chapter is the smallest unit of content. When you are creating a chapter, you should make sure that you do not include more than three topics per chapter.
Include an introduction
Your introduction should always evoke the training purpose and help trainees understand the motivation behind it. You should ensure you clearly state the reasons why the training is important. This will help reinforce attendance and prioritisation. A brief outline of the course content is also recommended.
and a conclusion that reinforces the main themes
Your conclusion will not only wrap-up the training experience: it should provide a good top-of-mind outline that includes the main two to three topics covered in the course. There is a good analogy you can follow when it comes to illustrating the purpose for your introduction and conclusion. Your introduction will serve the purpose of telling people what you will show them, and why. The training modules then include the actual content: they are the actual story, divided into chapters. Your conclusion will then be a wrap up of what they have achieved and the purpose of it. It’s quite simple, right?
Identify the content topics to be addressed in each chapter
In this step you will slice, dice and allocate. You will have gathered a ton of material from your subject matter experts, and it is now time to see what goes where and in which format. We recommend that you create each chapter with a maximum length of three minutes. You can fit 160 words in a minute of video, on average.
Create quizzes, challenges and “further reading” content. Decide where to place what.
You should also think about how you will test for understanding and fulfillment of the learning objectives. Different types of content call for different approaches in terms of testing and validation of learning.
This step goes hand-in-hand with the previous. As you define the course structure, you should also make sure to incorporate learning validation solutions such as quizzes, challenges and other interactive tools that will ensure you reach your objectives and help you measure the success of the programme itself. Remember that you can always use attachments to convey information that is not essential to the course, or that it is too detailed to translate into a video format.
It is vital that you always keep your audience in mind: knowing your audience will guide you in every decision you make regarding what to approach, and how to go about it.
If you follow these guidelines, you are sure to create a robust course structure that will facilitate the actual content creation. Your foundations are ready, and it’s almost time to start building!