As a training professional for more than 25 years, I’ve learned that spending a little extra time finding out what your potential students need to know, how they like to learn and what might impede their progress, can make a great deal of difference to your success. Analysis and evaluation tools can provide a structure for you to conduct interviews, develop an online survey or run a focus group to gather requirements from sponsors, stakeholders, managers and students themselves.
Building a learner profile helps you focus your instruction at the right level, language and detail.
- Find out the age, time in their current job, location, language and learning preferences. For example, you might ask a representative group of people intended to receive your proposed training to identify their learning style. Find out if the majority of people prefer to listen to a lecture or speech and ask questions, watch a pre-recorded demonstration, read written instructions or examine diagrams, charts or other visual cues. This helps decide to take a visual, aural, written or hands-on approach to learning. If the majority of your students prefer to take in learning on their own schedule, providing detailed job aids, manuals, and notes can help them learn the material.
- Determine what people already know. There’s no point in covering the basics if everyone knows the fundamentals. Alternatively, you certainly don’t want to jump in and provide instruction on an advanced topic if your potential students have no experience with the content, tool or technique. You can take this opportunity to identify people who exemplify exceptional behavior on the job.
- Define learning objectives. Use action verbs to describe what a person will be able to accomplish professionally or personally by the time he completes your training. Make it terribly compelling to motivate employees to attend, pay attention and excel in your course. Your training materials will need to be relevant, engaging and enthralling to help them achieve their own goals.
- Establish criteria for success. You may want to create a pre-test to test knowledge and skills before students take your course and then have them take that same test after completing instruction.
- Build your learning strategy. Typically, business follow the Center for Creative Leadership model that relies on development comprised of 70% experiences on the job, 20% relationships with others and only 10% formal education. Build in case studies, job aids, simulations and other types of learning to ensure you get your points across.
- Build a community. Use social media technology to connect your users. This helps links students who have expertise in desired competencies.