After solving one corporate training problem, it’s only natural that you will learn from that experience. When a similar problem is presented, you will apply the knowledge from your prior experience and most likely develop a similar solution: Keeping all the good parts, and throwing out the bad. Your final solution won’t be exactly the same each time but the major elements will not change. These elements become your design patterns.
Design patterns have become quite common in architecture, programming, web site design, and other creative industries.
Design patterns are like templates for design problems leaving you creative wiggle room to apply the design to your specific need. More specifically design patterns give solutions for problems that have already been solved, and refined. And since the art of teaching others has been around for a very long time, it’s a pretty safe bet that patterns have emerged in the art of training.
Now that we have learning management systems to automate much of the complexities of the corporate training function, you will notice design patterns and begin to define your own.
Here are 5 basic training course design patterns that can get your training function up and running quickly with an LMS.
Instructor-led Training event + Assessment
ILT (Instructor-led training) is still the most common pattern. Subject matter experts in companies all over the world utilize ILT because it’s familiar to everyone. An LMS helps promote the ILT event, sign up attendees, send reminders, deliver/manage assessments, and track completions…to name a few functions.
If you are responsible for training with limited resources, teaching your subject matter experts to manage their own courses allows you to deliver more training opportunities. And the more training you can offer and successfully deliver, the more value you add to the business.
As the de facto standard unit for self-paced training, the SCORM Course commonly contains all aspects of the course design in one module. This includes all instructions, introductions, content, interactions, media and assessments. For many government agencies it is mandated that all courses meet the SCORM standard.
Many generic courses purchased from eLearning development companies are available in the SCORM format. This allows you to purchase pre-built training courses and deliver them with your LMS.
I would be remiss if I didn’t state that these first 2 patterns are sufficient to build a very effective training organization.
Powerpoint + Assessment
Use your LMS to deliver Powerpoint content in one module and then create an assessment module asking questions about the content within the Powerpoint. This pattern is incredibly useful if you are comfortable designing training with an iterative process.
Powerpoint files are very common within many organizations. Many of these powerpoint files contain valuable content but are hard to find within complex file folder structures on shared drives and other file storage systems. Getting this ready-made content into an LMS can quickly deliver important information to the people who need it.
In some cases you’ll find that the content in the powerpoint is constantly being updated by the subject matter expert. In this case (pattern), you can work with your SME to keep his gold copy PPT file in a system like Box.com and simply link to it from your LMS. The patterns within this pattern become even more interesting. Think about it.
PDF + Assessment
PDF files make for interesting learning content. The format has become so powerful over the years that you can now embed media files, and other interactive elements. Content that is typically found within a PDF is usually more like a book. So using a PDF module gives your learners access to important content like technical manuals, or other documentation. The PDF file format can also benefit from SME updates with a Box.com link.
The downside of this pattern is that many books and technical manuals contain too much content to be remembered and effectively applied in the workplace. However, if your only goal is to make sure your employees have read the document and understand the basic idea, then this pattern is “good enough” solution.
Video + Assessment
Video is becoming quite a popular medium for training content. It’s a course pattern that most of your employees and/or customers will enjoy. With the popularity of Youtube.com, your learners are most likely very comfortable with short content delivered via video. Create a short video module and follow it up with an assessment module for an effective training course pattern.
Videos can be anything from short and sweet to long and boring. So like the other four patterns you will also discover sub-patterns for your video content. As an example, one video pattern is the recording of an ILT event. Another might be a professionally produced short video of a business process.
Patterns are everywhere. Human beings are natural pattern seeking machines. So, look for the patterns in your work and maximize their effectiveness: Document the pattern, improve on it, understand why it works…or doesn’t work. And don’t forget to share your patterns with others.