Designing a Better Learning Experience

When you think of training, you might groan and imagine a large conference room, slides full of text and a presenter who talks at the audience for an hour or so. It’s not the most engaging way to learn. But training is much more than just standing in front of a room full of people and reading from slides. It’s about really transferring knowledge, enabling the audience to understand, learn and retain new information and skills they can use in their daily work.

Recently, those of us on the Training Community of Practice at ERPi had the chance to talk to some of our colleagues about what instructional systems design (ISD) is and the importance of training.

ISD is a process by which learning materials and experiences are designed, developed and delivered. Unlike outdated instructional methods, ISD creates instructional experiences that make learning more effective and engaging. In the world of government, it can be especially helpful in helping an agency or office meet its organizational goals and objectives. The ISD process allows the client to review and provide feedback throughout the process and ensure the final product will meet their required outcomes.

Any time there are changes in a work environment, whether that’s a new technology or a policy change, training needs to be part of the roll-out plan. It goes hand-in-hand with communications and change management, and helps staff gain the confidence and competency they need to perform their job.

Before starting to design any training program, we work with the client to determine what the learning objectives are for the staff—what are the skills and knowledge they need to deal with the upcoming change. The learning objectives should be SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-based) so we can ensure the content will cover the knowledge that needs to be transferred to the staff and later test the outcome of the training.

Whenever we are designing an instructional program, we also must identify the current state and the needs of the staff. Without knowing where they are and what they need to know, a training program will not be successful.

There are many different types of training scenarios and systems. Training can be instructor-led in person or online. It can be infographics, video or quick-reference guides. It can be done in real time or on demand. It can include demos and software simulations, audio narratives, games and exercises, knowledge checks, and other interactive scenarios to help learners absorb and retain knowledge.

No matter the project or the client, change will always be a part of our work. Effective and engaging training will help you and your client prepare staff to successfully deal with that change and move towards the future.

Cristina Cruz
Senior Consultant