IDENTIFYING TRAINING TOPICS
Building A Blue Print - Part 3
Identifying training topics is part of the design process. In this lesson, you will focus on how you identify objectives and how you develop training topics for your training course.
Curriculum Objectives: Before you start identifying training topics, you must first identify the objectives. Curriculum objectives are the driving force behind all training concepts. Everything that you create should relate back to the objectives. Remember, it is important to note that training objectives should mirror the expectations of your client. Consider the following formula:
Required Skills - Current Skills = Curriculum Objectives
Listing the objectives using this formula will help you in identifying training topics for your course. Your objectives should be the difference between what the audience already knows and what they need to know.
After identifying training topics, you need to examine these items and develop certain objectives. Compare what must be included in the training against the expectations. Try to find common topics or catagories that can be grouped together. For example, the diagram below depicts four major topics with corresponding sub-topics for a widget. Using this method will help you to define critical objectives for your course. Based on the information below, you can now compare expectations and the major categories to develop your objectives. (Writing objectives will be presented in another lesson. Suffice it say that all objectives require certain components to be affective, including tasks, conditions, and standards.)
Mind Mapping: A tool that you can use to help identifying training topics and sub-topics is Mind Mapping. Mind mapping is a technique that allows you to break down a topic into various categories. This process is critical to the success of any course. Remember the old question of "how do you eat an elephant?...one bit at a time!" This same principle is used in the instructional design process. People are incapable of absorbing large amounts of information at one time. However, people are capable of absorbing large amounts of information if it is presented in small segments.
Mind mapping helps to break down information into a suitable format that helps everyone to learn. In the example of above, there are four major categories for a widget: Process, Purpose, Parts, and Delivery. These may vary depending on how you decide to group your list of topics. The important point here is to determine what topics can be grouped together.
Try to find similarities in "chunks" of information. By nature, human beings have an innate desire to group things automatically by topics or catagories. This helps us to observe and learn things that surround us. Try looking at something with mulitple shapes and sizes or colors and shades. If you look at the object(s) you will find youself automatically trying to group certain shapes or colors together. This same principle can be applied when identifying training topics. As you practice this skill, you will become better at grouping information logically.
Sequencing Information: The final step in the process of identifying training topics is to determine the sequence of the information. While putting topics in catagories is the first step, you must now identify how the information will be presented. By analyzing the four categories and sub-topics of the widget, you can determine when information should be introduced before certain sections are presented.
For example, you may determine that Widget Purpose information should be presented first to provide the knowledge necessary to understand the processes of the widget. Likewise, you may determine that Widget Parts should be presented before talking about the maintenance process.
Whatever you determine, you should always ask yourself what you need to know before you learn about a topic. As you organize the topics and sub-topics into logical sequences, you will start to see your course design appear. The goal of sequencing is to ensure that progress in the learning process occurs. The more learners progress and build upon the knowledge you present in the course, the better they be in achieving the objectives.
Adding Value and Fun: As part of identifying topics, it is important to take the time to identify how to add value and fun into your course. Each category or sub-topic lends itself to possible activities, games, or role plays that can add to the value of your course. While this topic requires its own lesson and discussion, you need to understand that adding activities, games, or other interactivity concepts will increase the success of the course.
The temptation is to find an activity and then attempt to squeeze it into the course somehow. If you want your course to meet the expectations of your client, you first need to know what topics must be presented. Once you know this information, then it is easier and more affective to build activities around your topics. In other words, know your topics before you decide on an activity to include into your course.
So far you have learned what a blue print is, and how it can help you in the instructional design process. You have also learned how to identify problems and the expecations for training. In this section, you learned how to identify training topics, how to develop objectives, and how to logically organize information for learners to achieve curriculum objectives. Go to page 4.