This program dives deep into creating curriculum people want to receive that leaves them engaged, excited, and with a better overall experience.
Writing training curriculum is difficult for many trainers and writers. Some even think the work has to be difficult if they are to be very successful. Curriculum writers will often abandon their values in this process. For example, some writers will write what they think the user needs, rather than what the users actually want to know. Others, though they may think everyone learns like them, write in a way that only their learning style can process and achieve. That’s one of the great things about the Scribe program. We’re teaching you how to write curriculum that reaches all learners so that instead of seeing writing as a chore, you see it as necessary and natural—just like brushing your teeth. Instead of it being a chore, it becomes another satisfying thing you get to do every day.
Writing training curriculum is difficult for many trainers and writers. Some even think the work has to be difficult if they are to be very successful. Curriculum writers will often abandon their values in this process. For example, some writers will write what they think the user needs, rather than what the users actually want to know. Others, though they may think everyone learns like them, write in a way that only their learning style can process and achieve. That’s one of the great things about this program. We’re teaching you how to write curriculum that reaches all learners so that instead of seeing writing as a chore, you see it as necessary and natural—just like brushing your teeth. Instead of it being a chore, it becomes another satisfying thing you get to do every day.
This program is the solution to easy curriculum design and production. The following techniques will show you that writing can be simple and easy. It can actually be easy to get over the design hump and produce amazing training curriculum. Once you learn this process, it will become much easier to meet your goals. Eventually, it might even become fun. You may want to start “upping the ante” and working with more and more challenging projects.
What if your trainees enjoyed time in class even more than they do now? What if class went more smoothly and the end user had even more success applying what your trainers taught them?
From having consulted hundreds of trainers and viewed thousands of training classes, I see the one critical mistake most curriculum writers make. They focus on what they want rather than what the audience wants. What every audience wants to know is what’s in it for them. But that is only the first step.
You have to make it clear to the audience why they would want the items on your agenda. Knowing why creates desire—the motivation to stay in their seats and crave every word you have to say. What’s unique about my approach is it gives you an understanding of how to create desire and work with it to compel your audiences to listen and learn.
In order to determine what the people who take your class want to know, you first have to identify who those people are who want to learn it. Imagine you’re designing a class that teaches inpatient providers how to use the EMR to chart on their patients during their stay. Who are the people who will want to know how to do that?
A role represents who you are teaching with the curriculum that you are designing. You can tell one role from another because each role has its own unique job responsibilities that separate it from other roles.
To engage the target roles with the classes that you create, the theme of your training curriculum must appear to have value to them and be in line with their goals. Once you know who your target market is, the next step is to identify what your audience wants—the reasons they would say they’re coming to hear you. It is essential you know what specific topics will be of interest. The best way is to ask them.
Now that you know what your target role or roles want to know, the next step is to find out why they’d want what you’re giving—the subconscious reasons they would be attracted to what you have to say. The best way to find out is to ask them, but you have to do it the right way because, as we’ve said, their why needs are subconscious.
Good training curriculum inspires your audience members to think, Wow, this trainer really gets me. The trainer knows just what I want to know and says he’ s going to tell me. And they’re caught up in the mystery: how is he going to do it?
To do that, your first job is to identify the tasks and subtasks (not training objectives) that your audience does on an everyday basis.
It’s your turn to identify what your target roles already do.
Step One: Create the main tasks of what they already do by asking the following question to an expert, based on each class you plan on teaching: “What tangible, measurable tasks are required of your role to take action on day-to-day basis?” Ask the expert to answer the questions according to this formula:
Start with an action verb. The trick to doing this is to mentally insert the words, “As an XYZ role, I . . .” at the beginning of the phrase.
Use seven words or less. A string of seven items is the maximum number people can hold in their short-term memory.
Use familiar words. Avoid what I call cliquespeak, using words or assuming a grasp of concepts people new to or unfamiliar with your field won’t understand.
Step Two: Create the subtasks that they already do by asking the following question to an expert, based on each class you plan on teaching: “What tangible, measurable subtasks are required of your role to be able to do the tasks above effectively?” Ask the expert to answer the questions according to this formula:
Start with an action verb.
Use seven words or less.
Use familiar words.
Step Three: Look at the subtasks one by one, and each time repeat exactly the same process as in the previous step. If necessary, create at least one sub-subtask in exactly the same manner as you created a task and subtask. Use an action verb, as few words as possible, and clear and simple language.
The next step is to brainstorm what the target market wants to know how to do that they currently aren’t doing or wish they were doing.
To do this, refer back to the replies to the email you sent in lesson 1 of this program. Recall my email was, “Please tell me the top-three things you’d like to know more about for writing effective training curriculum.” Below, as you may recall, are the responses I received.
You’ve already brainstormed what members of your target role do and what they want to do. The last step to figuring out the tasks and subtasks of your target role is to fill in the gaps by brainstorming anything else you feel your target role members need to do to perform their job effectively. Remember, you are not coming up with training objectives here. You’re coming up with tasks. Recall the difference.
There is so much training curriculum out there that teaches the users things they don’t need to know. The curriculum ends up having to be redone or the trainer ends up backtracking and training topics out of order. Even worse, the end users end up wasting time on a class that could have been taught in less time.
Imagine the freedom to design a course that best meets the needs of the end users who are taking it, one in which you don’t have to train the things they don’t need to know. Perhaps most important, you and your trainers won’t have to reshuffle the training order as much later on.
Tasks and subtasks are one of the most important parts of your training curriculum. Many instructional designers really struggle to figure them out because it’s a paradigm shift. Recall the difference between tasks/subtasks and teaching objectives.
It’s your turn to organize tasks and subtasks.
Step One: Combine the three lists of tasks and subtasks (that you created below in lesson 2) into one comprehensive list. Keep the subtasks with their “parent tasks.”
What they already do
What they want to do
What they need to do
Step Two: Group and order those tasks and subtasks according to how you feel the learners in that role would be able to best learn how to do them. Make sure you do this step with three key sets of people:
Target role expert
The next step is where the fun really begins because you can start to see a shadow of what your modules and lessons will look like in the future.
Each of your tasks is likely going to be a lesson that you teach at some point to your learners. That’s because you want each lesson to have three sections. Since each of our tasks had three subtasks, this works out perfectly.
The final step to start to organize all of the gold that you have mined in the first two chapters is to put it into a Curriculum Design Spreadsheet (CDS). This spreadsheet will help you not only organize everything we have identified and mined thus far, but it will be the hub that we use throughout this program as we build each and every facet of the curriculum design process.
This is actually the fun part of this chapter. You can now take each of the class modules, lessons (tasks), and subtasks and enter them into the CDS template. You can download your copy of the “CDS template”, it's attached as a downloadable material in this lecture.
Determining what to teach can be the most daunting task that faces curriculum writers. That’s because it can be difficult to make the plunge in deciding what to train and what not to train. If you decide incorrectly, you and your training team may waste numerous hours training things that don’t need to be trained.
Remember that tasks are what the trainees really want or need to know to be able to perform their role, whereas objectives are what the trainer wants to teach them so that they can perform those tasks. Trainers need to know the objectives they are going to teach well before they are standing in front of the classroom.
I have found that it’s much better to separate the tasks/subtasks from the objectives. They’re very different, and one needs to be checked, validated, edited, changed, and approved by the curriculum writer before starting the next.
There are three kinds of objectives: conventions, algorithms, and concepts. Eventually, our goal will be to correctly label each type of objective. To determine what type of objective each of these are, let’s first analyze the critical attributes of each one you just looked at.
Conventions are definitions. Conventions tend to answer the question, “What?” To teach a convention effectively, it helps to write curriculum where trainees make note of the term or idea with a definition or example. As a curriculum writer, you want to make sure to cover new conventions in any reviews you lead or offer.
Algorithms are the “hows” of training. They tell the trainees exactly how to complete a flow or task in the system or in the curriculum of your class. The best way to think of algorithms is steps. Just like conventions, there is often no “why” or “effect,” but instead, these can usually just be memorized.
Algorithms are the steps to follow. Effective teaching of algorithms should include some sort of visual aid that clearly outlines the steps trainees need to complete in the system.
Some of the material you teach will be hard to understand. Have you ever watched a group of end users get trained, pass the assessments, feel good about the system, and then have an unsuccessful “go live”? Have you ever watched users seemingly understand what they are doing, only to find out they are terribly inefficient at the system? Have you ever seen a trainee be able to do the steps you taught him, and then find out later he can only apply those steps to a routine, but not to a new situation?
Sadly, the scenarios above are all too familiar. That’s because concepts are the most elusive type of objective trainers and curriculum writers can write. Concepts tell the trainees “why,” and often, both trainers and curriculum writers struggle to write them. What’s worst, they don’t know they are struggling. They think they have “got this down,” but they don’t.
In the last lesson, we wrote out all of our teaching objectives. Recall we started with writing out the conventions for each of our subtasks. We then moved on to writing out the algorithms, and we finished by writing out the concepts. It’s now time to rewrite, simplify, and group each of those objectives to get them ready to put into our spreadsheet.
The reality is that you are not going to teach all of your conventions first, then all of the algorithms, and then all of the concepts. Instead, you need to determine the right order to teach the objectives so that they make the most senses for the end users taking your class. In order to decide what order to place your objectives, there are some key points to keep in mind to compare and contrast the different types of teaching objectives.
We now move back into the fun part for most curriculum writers. It’s the part where we get to take the fruits of our labor over the last two lessons and add it to our Curriculum Design Spreadsheet that will be used for months and years to come to produce golden training curriculum.
The last step is crucial for the assessments that you plan on giving at the end of your class. In order to ensure you teach the right material, and the students are learning the right material, you need to decide before you even write it what you are going to assess them on. If you’re not planning on giving some sort of assessment, I encourage you to reconsider.
You have created your Curriculum Design Spreadsheet. You have created specific tabs on that spreadsheet for each module. You have created tasks, subtasks, and objectives on each of those tabs. You might think you’re done with the curriculum structural design portion of the instructional design process. Not quite. It’s time to make sure your spreadsheet is completely aligned with exactly how you would like your courses laid out.
The greatest thing about the way we have designed this Curriculum Design Spreadsheet is there are multiple layers of “building blocks” that you can reuse over and over again to target the roles and “sub-roles” in your curriculum. This lesson will show you how to do that.
Prior to this lesson (in lessons 1-5), you’ve already created your course titles and lesson titles for one role and maybe more. Now that you have updated the modules, lessons (tasks), subtasks, and objectives in the first section of this chapter, it’s a good time to go back and make sure each role has customized names for the courses and lessons that speak to it.
Remember, good course and lesson names inspire your audience members to think, Wow, this trainer really gets me. He knows just what I want to know and says he’s going to tell me. And they’re caught up in the mystery: how is he going to do it?
When your trainers teach a lesson that’s scheduled to be an hour long, if they start at ten thirty, they need to end at eleven thirty. If they teach a ten-minute subtask, they need to end exactly ten minutes later, and if they’re supposed to deliver a four-hour training that starts at one o’clock, their audience needs to be able to count on being able to walk out the door at five. A good curriculum designer learns to set up the curriculum to accomplish that.
The primary reason trainers have problems with pacing is they haven’t done enough advanced planning. Once you have prepared the curriculum’s structural design, you are ready to begin estimating the time it would take to complete each section of that design.
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