How To Ensure Effective Course Design And Delivery
Four reasons that a course may fail to reach the stated learning objectives include lack of logical design, insufficient content, ineffective instruction, and incomplete assessment. Here is how to resolve these challenges in your effort to deliver impactful learning experiences.
1. Start With The 3 Ws Of Needs Analysis: Who Needs To Know What, Why, And Where
Identifying learning needs is a process of discovering, and defining, some uncomfortable truths: The organization may not have a clear picture of the audiences who need to obtain this new body of knowledge and integrate it into their work. Reasons for establishing training requirements may be cloudy at best, especially when new product introductions or process failures are at stake. And, leadership teams may not have a clear understanding of the various training delivery options and corollary costs that should be considered.
Target audiences may be identified through in-person meetings and remote conference calls during which the initial Alpha-teams of learners may be identified by consensus. The ultimate objective is to enable these initial participants to become Subject Matter Experts (SMEs). The process of selecting this group of trainees is typically based upon their mission-critical function and their ability to influence the work of other employees. The last “W” bespeaks of delivery options, such as ILT, online, or a hybrid framework, that may be discussed and mapped out in a preliminary form, which will be solidified a bit later.
2. Create A Roadmap And Start Collecting And Organizing Content
As the details of the course requirements emerge, it is important to document learning objectives, lesson plans, methods of instructional delivery, and assessment tools. This roadmap becomes essential in tracking progress and the timely completion of deliverables. At this stage, content commands particular attention, and much diligent effort should be invested in communicating with SMEs, informing them about the content collection process, and collecting tangible information that can be transformed into microlearning units that, in turn, can generate applicable and practical skills. Content becomes meaningful when it is driven by a primary theme, a key process that the course is aimed at. Additional drivers to content development include storyboarding the content into logically sequenced lessons and enhancing it with practice exercises and learning interactions. Lastly, piloting each course segment brings a sense of reality into the process.
3. Deliver Compelling Instruction
Andragogy or adult learning theory clearly posits that adults learn better when instruction is driven by practicality, practice, and job-relevance, among other factors. Whether it is the corporate training facility or the academic classroom, instructional objectives are more likely to be achieved when instruction is proffered in a systematic, informed, and informative manner.
Bloom’s Taxonomy (Benjamin Bloom, 1956 and 2001) serves as an excellent framework that, in its initial layout of 1956, seeks to synthesize the 6 static steps of effective instructional design:
The revised taxonomy of 2001 adds the following dynamic layer of components and sub-tasks that learners should be able to achieve: Remember basic facts; understand and explain concepts; apply the information; analyze situations; evaluate and make decisions based on the body of knowledge that has been presented during instruction; and, produce original work.
4. Evaluate Learning Outcomes
The process of designing and delivering a course should be based on meaningful and achievable learning outcomes. These benchmarks, when they are carefully and clearly stated, and if they follow a learner-centered approach, they can help course developers and classroom instructors ascertain whether learners are able to understand and apply the new body of knowledge. Direct assessments evaluate learners through exam scores and skill tests. Indirect assessments ask others, such as the managers of trainees, to provide feedback. Self-assessments create opportunities for course participants to assess their performance in their words. Equally impactful and defining can be the instructor’s feedback when it is frequent, objective, immediate, supportive, and encouraging.