Developing Training Activities and Materials

© Copyright Carter McNamara, MBA, PhD, Authenticity Consulting, LLC.

Sections of This Topic Include

Preparation for Developing Your Training Activities and Materials
Key Considerations to Develop Your Training Activities and Materials
Critical Consideration -- Selecting a Trainer
Many Possible Types of Training Activities
Additional Resources to Develop Your Training Activities and Materials

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Related Library Topics

Also See the Library's Blogs Related to Developing Training Activities and Materials

In addition to the articles on this current page, also see the following blogs that have posts related to Developing Training Activities and Materials. Scan down the blog's page to see various posts. Also see the section "Recent Blog Posts" in the sidebar of the blog or click on "next" near the bottom of a post in the blog. The blog also links to numerous free related resources.

Library's Career Management Blog
Library's Human Resources Blog
Library's Leadership Blog
Library's Supervision Blog
Library's Training and Development Blog


Preparation for Developing Your Training Activities and Materials

The design phase and the development phase of systematic training planning often overlap. During the design phase or development phase, the various training activities must be selected, for example, to be instructor-led, computer-based, Web-based, self-directed, interactive or multi-media. The development phase of systematic training often includes selecting the most appropriate media and materials, for example, developing audio-visuals, graphics, manuals, preparing any needed facilities, and piloting course content to ensure it is understandable. Often the design and development phases are highly integrated. The design of the training is often piloted, or initially tested, during the development phase to ensure the content is understandable and applicable to the learners.

Key Considerations to Develop Your Activities and Materials

What is the Immediacy to Achieve the New Learning?

The more immediate the need to achieve the learning, the more important that the activities and materials be understandable and readily accessible to the learners. In these situations, it often is warranted to use an expert who can promptly design, develop and deliver the training plan, activities and materials. Also, it's very useful if the activities and materials can be based on activities already underway in the workplace so that learners do not have to take time away from work, but rather can promptly affect their work even as they participate in the learning program.

What Are the Learners' Preferences and Learning Styles?

One of the biggest mistakes in designing training plans is to choose activities and materials that do not match the preferences and styles of the learners. Probably the most common example is putting adults through extended hours of lecture. Those activities usually lull adults into a stupor, rather than sustaining sufficient interest and engagement to accomplish sustained learning among the adults. One of the best ways to discern the most appropriate styles of activities is to have learners undertake a learning styles inventory or at least to consider the various styles that seem common to the types of learners who will be in the training program.

How Much Time Can Learners Realistically Apply to the Learning Activities?

This has become one of the most important considerations when designing and developing training plans. Workplaces seem increasingly busy as people try to do more with less. It's often very difficult for them to take time away from the office. The more the training activities can accommodate the busy schedules of learners, the better -- and the more likely that learners will actually attend the training sessions. It's often better to design frequent and short trainings sessions than fewer, extended sessions.

Can the Learners Readily Access the Activities and Materials? Do They Build On Current Work Activities?

One of the biggest advantages of compute- and Web-based activities is that learners can access them from anywhere, which greatly decreases the cost of training and development activities. Thus, the rapid expansion of technology-based activities in trainings. (See Online Learning.) One of the best ways to ensure that training activities are highly accessible is to build them into the activities already underway in the workplace.

How Much Money is Available to Obtain and Develop the Resources?

It's common that curriculum designers develop wonderful training programs that seem guaranteed to achieve the goals of the program, but after further review, are clearly so expensive that the program is prohibitive or not realistic. Therefore, it's important, even before the initial needs assessments are done, to get some sense of the availability of funding to obtain and develop resources. Technology-based and on-the-job-based activities often are much less expensive than hiring subject matter experts. However, those experts are especially useful if the training is to convey highly specialized or technical content.

Will the Activities Achieve the Learning Objectives?

Now we get to the most important consideration. Even if the activities are well-suited to the learners, readily accessible and well-funded, will they together really achieve the overall goals of the training program? Here again is where it's useful to consult an expert or to reference best practices or competencies in the particular areas being trained.

How Will the Activities and Materials Be Field-Tested?

It's very important to explain the activities to a few of the learners and to have them examine the materials. They are best suited to judge if the activities and materials are truly understandable and suited to the needs and styles of the learners. Listen to their advice, and modify the activities and materials accordingly.

Critical Consideration -- Selecting a Trainer

Perhaps the most important ingredient of any training program is the trainer (unless the program is entirely self-directed). Today's learners are very sensitive to how well a trainer engages them by being enthusiastic about the material, cultivating interaction among the learners, and really listening to -- and respecting -- them.

Is the Potential Trainer Well-Suited to the Nature of the Learners?

The most important consideration when selecting a trainer is if they are well suited to the training design required to meet the learning goals. For example, if learners prefer computer-based instruction, they'll benefit from a trainer who understands online training technologies. If learners prefers ongoing coaching, they'll benefit from a trainer who is readily accessible to the employee for ongoing advice and guidance. If learners struggle with communication skills, they'll benefit from a trainer who can integrate remedial communications strategies with other training methods.

Collaborate With Other Departments or Groups Doing Similar Training?

Consider whether other supervisors or companies have employees who need similar training. If so, one might combine your needs and funding to get a trainer to conduct in-house training.

Use Former Employees as Trainers?

Consider using an ex-employee who has the skills needed by the learner. Of course, this option depends on whether the ex-employee left the organization under good terms and remains in good standing with the organization.

Use Subject-Matter Experts as Trainers

There's a wise saying that "Telling ain't training." Just because someone has strong knowledge of the subject matter does not mean that he or she will be a good trainer. If you are considering hiring a consultant to conduct the training then consider issuing a Request for Proposal which asks potential trainers for the following information.

  • A written proposal for how they would carry out training, evaluation methods, cost, etc.
  • The goals preferred from the training, when to have training and what evaluation results should occur
  • Request that trainers remain available for follow-up consultation if desired
  • Ask the trainer what methods they use to ensure their consultation projects are successful with clients
  • Ask for at least three references
  • Consider having the employee briefly meet with the consultant to discuss training needs and establish a rapport

See the extensive advice and the sample forms for a request for proposals, a proposal from consultants and a consultation plan.

Resort to Self-directed Learning?

If a suitable outside consultant or training program cannot be found, consider self-directed learning. Self-directed is accomplished primarily by the learner who leads or takes a strong role in determining learning goals, how they will be accomplished and how learning will be verified. Self-directed learning can be used where employees are highly motivated and self-reliant. Learning can be verified with a variety of means, e.g.,

  1. Written reports describing what learning activities have occurred and what results were produced
  2. Observation of the employee by a supervisor or other skilled expert equipped to assess progress of the employee
  3. A portfolio or collection of results showing the employees' improvement over time
  4. A presentation from the employee that includes description of learning activities and a display of results, etc

Many Possible Types of Training Activities

There seems an increasing amount of different activities that can be considered when customizing activities to the goals of a training program and to the nature and needs of the learners. Consider Various Ideas for Learning Activities.

Additional Resources to Develop Your Training Activities and Materials

Overview of Development Phase
ADDIE Development Phase
Development Phase of ADDIE
Selecting the Right Trainer
A Simple Training Plan: Five No Cost Solutions
Designing Training for Creative Minds
Why Small Regional Training Conferences Are Most Effective
“Lean, Mean, Learning Machines” – The New Age of Training

Learn More in the Library's Blogs Related to this Topic

In addition to the articles on this current page, also see the following blogs that have posts related to this topic. Scan down the blog's page to see various posts. Also see the section "Recent Blog Posts" in the sidebar of the blog or click on "next" near the bottom of a post in the blog. The blog also links to numerous free related resources.

Library's Career Management Blog
Library's Human Resources Blog
Library's Leadership Blog
Library's Supervision Blog
Library's Training and Development Blog

Go to main Training and Development page.


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For the Category of Training and Development:

To round out your knowledge of this Library topic, you may want to review some related topics, available from the link below. Each of the related topics includes free, online resources.

Also, scan the Recommended Books listed below. They have been selected for their relevance and highly practical nature.

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Basics and General Information

Leadership and Supervision in Business - Book Cover Field Guide to Leadership and Supervision in Business
by Carter McNamara, published by Authenticity Consulting, LLC. Provides step-by-step, highly practical guidelines to recruit, utilize and evaluate the best employees for your business. Includes guidelines to effectively lead yourself (as Board member or employee), other individuals, groups and organizations. Includes guidelines to avoid burnout -- a very common problem among employees of small businesses. Many materials in this Library's topic about staffing are adapted from this book.
Leadership and Supervision With Nonprofit Staff - Book Cover Field Guide to Leadership and Supervision With Nonprofit Staff
by Carter McNamara, published by Authenticity Consulting, LLC. Provides step-by-step, highly practical guidelines to recruit, utilize and evaluate the best staff members for your nonprofit. Includes guidelines to effectively lead yourself (as Board member or staff member), other individuals, groups and organizations. Includes guidelines to avoid burnout -- a very common problem among nonprofit staff. Many materials in this Library's topic about staffing are adapted from this book.

The following books are recommended because of their highly practical nature and often because they include a wide range of information about this Library topic. To get more information about each book, just click on the image of the book. Also, a "bubble" of information might be displayed. You can click on the title of the book in that bubble to get more information, too.



Orienting and Training Employees

The following books are recommended because of their highly practical nature and often because they include a wide range of information about this Library topic. To get more information about each book, just click on the image of the book. Also, a "bubble" of information might be displayed. You can click on the title of the book in that bubble to get more information, too.



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