Top 5 Training Design Tips for Everyone

Top 5You’ve been asked to create some training for your organization. Don’t panic. That voice inside your head will not steer you wrong. If you have ever been taught, or learned, anything from someone else then you have all the experience you need to design instruction.

What did you like about your favorite teacher? What was your favorite online instructional YouTube video? If you’re as old as I am you’ll remember School House Rock. Brilliant!

When I first started studying instructional media design the school had synchronized slide projectors, and big laser discs. So, there was a time when online learning was a new frontier and we all experimented and applied 20th century academic ideas to the new 21st century technology.

Today, you are not burdened with that struggle. Since around 2000, inexperienced, un-professionals, have taken over most industries in a rather glorious do-it-yourself fashion. The industry of creating instructional media is no different.  With tools like Litmos you can create, sell, and manage your own training department or business. If you can create media, then you can create INSTRUCTIONAL media. Anyone telling you otherwise is selling you something.

1) Keep Your Training Content Short

This tip is universal across all media development. If you think your topic/content is too long, then just break it down into smaller chunks.  If your topic is so complex that you need 100 small chunks then do it. Create the first 10 and launch them while creating the next 10, and so on. Remember, you need to be delivering business value and fast.

If you are preparing to teach in a lecture format force yourself to keep each topic under 10mins.  If you are creating a video challenge yourself to make your point in under 3 mins. While you are most certainly fascinated by the topic, your audience may only have limited interest.  Forcing yourself to be keep it simple.

2) Take Online Training Courses

Learning by studying the work of others is a time honored tradition in all artistic pursuits. Find some free online courses. You should be learning online anyway, whether you’re creating training or not. But now that you need to create your own training, you should be aware of how others are doing it. Be aware that most of what you will find has not been created by eLearning designers/developers. So, you’re not alone. Be creative and have fun with it.

3) Use Training Templates

Most media tool companies see the value in creating educational media with their applications, and so they come with a lesson template of some sort. Be simple and consistent in how you apply those templates and don’t be tempted to add much more, or modify them. Work within their given boundaries.  A qualified designer had a good reason for building the template that way.

4) Engage Your Audience of Learners

No matter what method of instructional media delivery you choose, be creative in designing an experience for your learner.  Storytelling is an experience. If you don’t have the time or the skills to create online interactions of some sort, then tell a good story. Authors, screenwriters, comic book illustrators, etc., all transfer knowledge to viewers via engaging story structures.  Tell a good story and you own your audience.

5) Release Current Content Immediately

You ultimately need to make a decision around how important the content is. Is it more important that the business can access the content immediately, fast, NOW? Or is it more important that it looks good, and follows the company brand guidelines? In my experiences I’ve run into both scenarios..but not equally. SPEED by far carries more business value than beauty.  Of course accuracy of content is important, but I’m assuming that you’ve received your content from the local subject matter expert and they have approved it.

The bottom line is that everyone knows something that others would like to know. And everyone has the capacity to teach, and create instructional content. While some have studied for years within academic circles to better understand the teaching/learning process, they are no better at creating than you are. Your passion for the subject matter trumps their knowledge every time. I’ve seen it. I’ve experienced it. And I’m living it. Be bold and just do it. In this world of eternal beta, if it’s not good then try again until it is.