One of the standard processes and methodologies in the training profession is Instructional Systems Design (ISD). ISD is the discipline by which many training programs are created. This process yields a complete and efficient training program and facilitates continuous assessment of training effectiveness. Here is a brief synopsis of the key elements of ISD:
Analyze system (department, job, etc.) to gain a complete understanding of it.
Compile a task inventory of all tasks associated with each job (if needed).
Select tasks that need to be trained (needs analysis).
Build performance measures for the tasks to be trained.
Choose instructional setting for the tasks to be trained, e.g. classroom, on-the-job, self study, etc.
Estimate what is going to cost to train the tasks.
Develop the learning objectives for each task, to include both terminal and enabling objectives.
Identify and list the learning steps required to perform the task.
Develop the performance tests to show mastery of the tasks to be trained, e.g. written, hands on, etc.
List the entry behaviors that the learner must demonstrate prior to training.
Sequence and structure the learning objectives, e.g. easy tasks first.
List activities that will help the students learn the task.
Select the delivery method such as tapes, handouts, etc.
Review existing material so that you do not reinvent the wheel.
Develop the instructional courseware.
Synthesize the courseware into a viable training program.
Validate the instruction to ensure it accomplishes all goals and objectives.
Create a management plan for conducting the training.
Conduct the training.
Review and evaluate each phase (analyze, design, develop, implement) to ensure it is accomplishing what it is supposed to.
Perform external evaluations, e.g. observe that the tasks that were trained can actually be performed by the learner on the job.
Revise training system to make it better
As a process, ISD has a lot to offer. That said, someone can follow the steps and produce terrible training (and visa versa). I have always found the discipline to largely ignore the more magical and spontaneous aspects of outstanding training.
The Contructivist Design Approach:
Developing training from a constructivist design approach goes beyond ISD to create connection and meaning through interactive processes. It drives us to design training that is experiential and engaging, even evocative! Constructivists believe that connection, engagement, and interpretation is central to learning. I think that training designed in this method is more interesting and effective.
Here’s a bit more from an article by the Institute of Learning Technologies called, An Interpretation Construction Approach to Constructivist Design.
Constructivist learning elements
Observation: Students make observations of authentic artifacts anchored in authentic situations.
Interpretation Construction: Students construct interpretations of observations and construct arguments for the validity of their interpretations.
Contextualization: Students access background and contextual materials of various sorts to aid interpretation and argumentation.
Cognitive Apprenticeship: Students serve as apprentices to teachers to master observation, interpretation and contextualization.
Collaboration: Students collaborate in observation, interpretation and contextualization.
Multiple Interpretations: Students gain cognitive flexibility by being exposed to multiple interpretations.
Multiple Manifestations: Students gain transferability by seeing multiple manifestations of the same interpretations.
Example of using these constructivist methods in training:
In the Playbill program, students study Shakespearean drama and English literature in general by using the text of the play and two or more videos of performances of the play. Playbill provides the students with highly indexed access to the text of Macbeth, two videos of performances of Macbeth and written commentary on Macbeth. Using this multimedia indexing system, students can read a portion of Macbeth (e.g., a scene) and then immediately jump to see one or two performances of what they have read (Observation). The students can also use this indexing system to jump to commentaries on the same portion of the play (Contextualization). Using portions of the play, the teacher models how to integrate reading the play, watching the performance and reading the commentaries (Cognitive Apprenticeship) and the students work together in groups (Collaboration) to develop their own interpretations of the play and how it should be performed (Interpretation Construction). Comparing their interpretations of the play with the other students both within the same group and then in different groups gives the students a sense of the many different reactions that people can have to a play like Macbeth (Multiple Interpretations). The multimedia indexing system also facilitates the students jumping around in the text and videos to see how the same entities (e.g., characters, themes, etc.) can be manifested in many different ways in the text and performances (Multiple Manifestations).
As managers, we need to ensure that training gets results. I see far too many programs that go through all the right motions but are utterly useless and a waste of resources. What are these classes missing? Many of the elements discussed in the above article from the Institute of Learning Technologies.
How would you rate the training in your company?