Ifyou are new to the world of corporate training you may be a bit overwhelmed with the epic amounts of information available online. Don't be. I’ve been in the business of technology-based learning in corporate training for over 20 years and can assure you that your instincts about training will serve you well.
You've made it to where you are because you've learned how to learn. You most likely didn't put much thought into it. You just had a good work ethic, and still do. You just did whatever you could to learn how to get the job done.
And now, by some strange order of events, you've found yourself needing to create training content for others. The same drive, and solid work ethic that got you here will help you create some very effective training content.
And let’s be realistic. You will make some very common mistakes along the way. But they aren’t the kind of mistakes that will cause harm or be the end of the world. Making the mistakes is actually the best way for you to learn how to make better training.
Relax. You can do this.
Don't Ignore Your Gut
Look back on your own personal learning experiences. Think about all the good instructors you've had in the past. And think about all the bad ones too. What types of books did you learn the most from? What sort of content did you appreciate getting from your instructor…digital or otherwise? You may have already taken online eLearning courses as well. Did you like them? What did you like or dislike?
You've had more learning experiences than you think. And they can all be useful in your journey towards authoring training content for others. You know what works and what doesn't work for you, and that's valuable data to get you started. Yes, you are special, but not as unique as you might think when it comes to learning. Chances are really good that a very large percentage of professionals like and dislike similar things about training events and eLearning.
Beware of Distractions
Your gut won't steer you wrong...but hundreds of thousands of web sites can steer you in far too many directions greatly slowing your path to success. Many fast, small successes lead to a more successful final training product. Get started on your own and see how far you get. Over analyzing with academic rigor will not only slow you down but diminish your confidence as well.
There are a lot of great ideas out there. But I want you to understand that none of them can get you to a completed project faster than following your own intuition based on your own personal experiences.
Example: If it feels like too much information for anyone to remember after 1 hour, it probably is.
There is no better learning process than just doing the work. Learn what you can from the internet quickly and then make something: A Powerpoint slidedeck, a course content outline, a script for a video, etc. Just create something that moves you closer to done. It’s tempting to obsess on cool new tools, and apps, for development but these distractions will only end up giving you more work and extending the time you’ll need to complete the training project. Focus on simple and fast. Your learners will thank you for it.
Why Every Professional is a Training Professional
It's your project. You own it and may or may not do the design and development work. But nobody else has had your experiences and nobody else is responsible for your projects but you. That is the first, and most important, reason why reverse engineering your own learning experiences is better than anything else if you need to deliver training fast. Following someone else's model, methods, designs, etc, will no doubt lead to many many more questions and insecurities.
Every training expert has experienced frustration working with subject matter experts because they have a tendency to include too much content. The honest truth is that most educated experienced training designers STILL include too much content relative to what learners can remember. So, don’t worry about it in your first try. Get feedback from your learners. They will tell you if it’s too much, too little, too fast, too slow, etc. Then make some adjustments and do it again. This is a successful iterative approach to training development that works very well.
There is, no doubt, a time to listen and learn from others to improve your training projects. But in my experiences your blind first pass based on your own intuition will end up serving you well. You can move quickly and confidently based on what you know now, instead of wasting your time on what consultants, and thought leaders, learned from other consultants and thought leaders 50 years ago.
In some larger regulated corporate settings there may be protocols to be followed and mandatory design templates to be used. And if your company has been around for a while, and other training courses already exist, then certain expectations have been established. So, if you’re new to the company be sure to take as many existing courses as you can to understand where the bar is set. But if you’re like most entrepreneurs and fast moving successful professionals you’ll have short deadlines to meet with few resources. My point here is to confirm what you already know deep in your gut, and tell you to go for it. There is always time to make updates later as you learn more.
If you have any experiences you’d like to share regarding your first attempts at training development I’d love to hear them. Leave a comment here or find me on twitter @bschlenker.
About Brent Schlenker
Brent Schlenker has over 20 years of experience in the Learning and Development industry. He’s built and re-built training organizations, and developed innovative technology based learning solutions across all departments within small, medium, and large corporate structures.
Over the last 10 years Brent built his career as an industry leader through blogging, speaking at industry events, and promoting eLearning through social media channels. After five years with The eLearning Guild, he is DevLearn Program Director Emeritus and was responsible for programming the event from 2008 to 2012.
He joined the Litmos team in April 2014 as the Chief Learning Strategist and brings his wealth of experience, industry knowledge, and networks to the strong learning products under the Litmos brand.
Prior to discovering his passion for technology-based learning, he worked in video production as a producer for a local Arizona NBC affiliate. He brings that experience, innovation, and creativity to the booming industry of eLearning. He also holds a BA in Media Arts and an M.Ed. in Educational Media and Computers.