Tips For Better Instructional Design
So, you’ve decided to create a custom training program for your employees rather than trying to fit an off-the-shelf solution to your unique organizational challenges. Chances are high that this option is more of an investment, but custom training development gives you several advantages over the off-the-shelf variety.
- Tailored training
Because you are in the driver’s seat when it comes to designing the program, you can modify it to closely fit your organization’s unique needs. You can create training that supports your employee’s learning goals and your organization’s business objectives.
- Better outcomes
Custom training development yields better results because it fits your needs so well, it’s based on real-world experience, and it’s tightly focused on your business objectives so completion rates increase.
- Reflects organizational needs
Outside learning designers, no matter how empathetic, haven’t lived and breathed the company culture and processes like you have. The understanding of company nuances you bring to the project ensures that training is relevant and presented from a perspective your employees understand.
There are many reasons to be optimistic about the impact custom training development will have on your learners. But keep in mind that pursuing this type of training carries risks and pitfalls to be avoided. Let’s take a look at some common mistakes learning developers make when creating custom training development followed by solutions to help avoid and overcome them.
Custom Training Development Mistakes And Solutions
Mistake: Creating training that doesn’t change behavior. Even training that is carefully crafted by company experts to provide relevant learning that helps meet business objectives is of little use if the learners don’t buy in.
Solution: Make learner engagement your lodestar to ensure that training has a meaningful impact on learners and doesn’t become just another box to be checked so we can get on with the real work. Focus on these areas:
- What’s in it for me?
Helping learners answer this question by tying training to personal goals or company objectives will help you gain and hold their attention.
- Smaller is better
Breaking training down into shorter sessions increases retention and prevents burnout and overwhelm.
- The best medium
Present the training in a format that learners are the most comfortable with so that it will engage them, whether it is gamification , scenarios, simulations, social media, supplemental resource materials, ILT (Instructor-Led Training) , or WBT (web-based training) . Find what works best and use it.
Mistake: Targeting skills unrelated to business objectives. When your focus strays from the learner’s needs, your custom training development efforts are in danger of becoming irrelevant.
Solution: Identify the skills learners need, then keep the learning locked on the target of teaching employees these skills. Use the following:
- Needs analysis
The needs analysis brings to light the skills learners need to develop in training. Helpful analysis tools include interviews, focus groups, and surveys.
- Performance mapping
Begin by translating company needs into key employee performance objectives. Then, measure current employee performance to determine the impact of specific behaviors on those objectives. Where those behaviors warrant improvement or where employees are lacking, make these key objectives the center of your training program.
Mistake: Setting unrealistic timelines. This has more to do with project management than with custom training development, but it can still derail the creation of your new program.
Solution: When the project deadline is outside of your control, focus on other factors that you can control and bring the project back into balance.
If time is limited, then consider modifying the scope of the project or the scope of the deliverables. For example, use an agile training project management strategy to deliver functional components of the training in phases. Deploying smaller units of training over time will ease the burden on employee development teams while providing training material for learners. Moreover, the initial deployment can serve as a pilot to review and revise for process improvements. Using those assets and activities as templates can also increase content creation in future iterations of design and development.
Mistake: Attempting to create training using a flawed design strategy.
Solution: Designing and building your own customized training is a complex process that requires a detailed design strategy with the following elements:
- Adequate planning time
Instead of diving into the work immediately, take time to create a plan for designing your learning program. Proper planning in the beginning will reduce development time downstream.
- Work breakdown structure
Breaking down a large custom training development project into smaller component pieces can be taxing, but it makes the project more manageable and it provides a framework to measure progress.
- Well-defined charter
Before starting, create a document that gives a high-level description of the project and its measurable learning and performance objectives. The rigor this requires will give you a sharp, clear vision that will keep the project and subsequent employee performance on track.
Creating a custom training program for your learners opens up great opportunities and potential for success, but it also brings a series of mistakes to avoid. Use these innovative strategies to enhance your custom training development and you will see the benefits to employee performance and organizational success.
References: ADDING GAMIFICATION TO MILLENNIAL TRAINING  ILT AND VILT: CREATE IMPACTFUL LEARNING EXPERIENCES  ELEARNING AND DIGITAL LEARNING: REIMAGINE YOUR DIGITAL LEARNING SOLUTIONS