When writing, I tend to compose quickly to get my ideas on paper, and while I can edit the crap out of most anything (thank you, undergraduate writing workshops), I really, really, REALLY hate editing my own writing. Putting together and scripting in-person trainings is less painful, but I’m still bound to gloss over parts. The process of designing a training for me is similar to the writing process: it all comes down to editing, and it’s way easier to edit if you’ve built out an outline ahead of time.
Using a structured outline helps keep me on track, and also forces me to slow down. In this position at this institution, you can’t assume anything about the users (this semester, I’m doing a session on data visualizations–about the only thing I’m planning on is that everyone signed up has at least *heard* of Microsoft Excel–with the end result being an infographic). I’ve gone through several iterations of outlines, and I think I’ve parsed it down to the bare essentials. It’s enough to keep me on track and focused on the topic, but provides enough range to meet the needs of my user population.
The basic building blocks are all included:
- Topic Area of Training
Computer? Analysis? etc.
- Benefits to Participants
How will this help them? Is it professional or personal?
- Learning Objectives
With what should participants walk out of the session knowing/creating?
- Materials Needed
What *exactly* do you need, and what to participants need? Computers? Paper? Markers?
- Resources & References
What have you gathered together to help build this? What’s available for mass distribution?
- Evaluation Methods
What do they need to know and how do I decide if they do? This goes beyond just having them do some sort of exercise. The majority of people forget the skills they’ve been taught in less than a year; include some other sort of metric to decide if people know this stuff.
On the flip side, I modified Microsoft’s idea of an instructional content plan to help structure trainings frame-by frame:
Every piece is part of a larger whole. What type of planning outline do you use to structure trainings or other projects?