What’s the Point?

Circle CompassHave you ever sat in on a web training that never really taught you what you were hoping to learn? Maybe a great title drew you in and if you’re like me, you gave the presenter the benefit of the doubt for the first 15 minutes or so. But then as the time went on, you started finding that this presentation wasn’t really adding the value you had hoped for. And, after wrestling with ‘should I stay or should I go’, you figure maybe the polite thing to do is just put your phone on mute and respond to some email and get caught up on a few things on your desk.

It is my firm belief that there are two things that can help as both presenter and participants in web based training.

1)   Make clear who the target audience is. Is this presentation targeted at

    • Sales leaders OR sales people?
    • New instructional designers OR experienced instructional designers?
    • Technical administrator of the product OR casual new users of the product?

Since most presentations won’t truly meet the needs of all audiences, we lose the impact of a presentation when we try and make it a “one size fits all.” As participants, learning needs differ. Take, in the example above, a technical administrator taking a training on the new features of a product. Their questions, their experience and their perspective on the product will be very different from that of the new casual user. The more clear the presenter is up front on who the presentation is meant for, the greater the likelihood of hitting people’s needs. Remember that Adult Learning Theory tells us that relevance is of utmost importance to adult learners. If I shy away from claiming who this is relevant to, I won’t meet anyone’s needs and will end up losing many members of my audience.

2)   The second thing that will improve the outcome of web based training is to be clear on specifically what learners will get at the end of the training. In instructional terms this is commonly called a ‘terminal objective’ or a ‘learner outcome.’ What will the learner be able to do (or say) differently at the end of the training? I consider this to be a contract with my learners. It is my promise of what you the learner will get for spending your time in this class/workshop or webinar.

The best objectives are performance based – meaning they focus on the performance that the new learner will be able to do as a result of the training. The secret to a good performance based objective: Verbs!   Let’s look at a few examples:

    • The learner will apply a 4-step coaching model
    • The leaner will generate a usage report.
    • The learner will recognize 4 closing skills.

The beauty of this type of ‘contract’ or learning objective is that it helps the developer create content that will hit the mark for the learner.

I believe that starting with these two steps can markedly improve most any live online web based training. I’m interested to hear some of the objectives you use for your training!

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