After a new IT trainer has been hired and given an overview in basic classroom management skills, he or she needs to move quickly into the business of creating classes.
Many people think this is a backwards approach, asking, “How can you let a novice write training materials?” My response is always the same: “How can I not?” My reasons for starting new trainers in curriculum development are threefold.
- I want my staff to have a comfort level with the material they will teach.
- I want my staff to understand instructional theory and methodology before entering a classroom.
- I can review and revise written material before it is distributed. I can’t do that with a classroom presentation.
The best way to perfect class development skills is to start with an outline. Using this format gives new trainers a structure to use and a guide to follow. In this article, I will explain how to design an outline and what method to use.
In this series, Wendy Finger also has covered how to hire a new trainer and how to develop classroom management skills. In next week’s final article, she will cover how to build a training program around a course outline.
A class outline
There are certain elements required for a strong class. The elements are covered in one of my favorite technical blueprints:
- Tell ‘em what you’re gonna tell them
- Tell ‘em
- Show ‘em
- Let ‘em practice
- Tell ‘em again
- Make sure what you told ‘em sunk in
New trainers should use each item in the blueprint to create a good class outline.
1. Tell ‘em what you’re gonna tell them
Your training goals should be clearly stated objectives with measurable outcomes. This is when you give a short overview of the class. This provides an agenda and lets students know what to expect.
2. Tell ‘em
This is where the course outline comes in. A strong course outline demonstrates how the course will move from a general concept to details. In other words, the outline will describe how a curriculum moves from “what” to “why” to “how.”
The outline should have clarity of message, the ability to tie lessons back to the real world, and plenty of real life examples.
3. Show ‘em
Demonstrate or illustrate what you want learners to accomplish. Go through the steps of the process. Explain the sequence of tasks and what they accomplish.
4. Let ‘em practice
Students should have an opportunity for hands-on learning each time a new concept is introduced. Hands-on learning needs to be more than “follow along with me while I….” It needs to be based on scenarios and case studies. Hands-on learning must allow for problem solving if you want folks to remember what they learned and use it to create new ideas.
5. Tell ‘em again
Review with questions and answers. This is the last chance to make a good impression. Make sure the curriculum your new trainer is creating allows for review, which is often sacrificed in the interest of saving time. Eliminating the review is a big mistake.
6. Make sure what you told ‘em sunk in
The final check for understanding is a trainer’s mechanism for making sure that learning has occurred. The assessment can take the form of a role-play, a written test, or a group project. Again, trainers should measure learning based on problem solving. It is much more difficult to figure out how to solve a problem than it is to copy (or memorize) a string of code. Showing someone how to copy a string of code is not training. If the entire course consists of teaching someone the steps involved in the how, but forgets the what and the why, the trainer has missed the boat.
For most readers, this formula will appear basic. It is basic. It is the perfect blueprint for a new trainer. From this outline, all things are possible.
How do you keep your classes on track? How do you help your staff with class development skills? Share your experiences with us.