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ATD Blog

10 Training Development Tips for Instructional Designers and Trainers

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Sadly, when they receive a request for training, many instructional designers sit down at their computers, pull up a course that they think could be repurposed, and begin to “develop” the training. Resist this temptation.

Development of a learner-centered course cannot start with the development of the learning materials and learning activities. Instructional designers must first meet with the business unit manager, ask analysis questions, document the analysis data, craft the course design, create a design document, and get approval from the manager. Only then is the designer ready to begin the development phase of instructional systems design.

For the final part of my three-part series, I’m sharing 10 development tips.

  1. Decide how the course should be delivered. Are there compelling reasons to pull the performers away from their ordinary job duties to attend a face-to-face course? Can the content be delivered in a self-paced e-learning module? Can learners get the same benefits from a self-paced program, or will they benefit from a facilitated program?

  2. If your organization already has a similar program or components that might be repurposed, review the program materials for appropriate inclusion in the course. Do not reinvent the wheel, but do not assume that a repurposed program will work.

  3. In the design phase, you chose and listed the types of learning methodologies that you anticipated using, such as lectures, case studies, role plays, or simulations. In the development phase, you will fully flesh out these learning methods. Develop the learning methods so that you have the setup, activity, evaluation approach for the activity, expected responses, and checklists.


  4. Use the ROPES for each learning module: Review/Relate, Overview, Presentation, Exercise, and Summarize. This handy acronym will remind you to allow enough time in each module for your adult learners to apply what they are learning.

  5. Link the learning objectives to the content; for each objective, make sure that the learning media and the instructional methods support participants’ learning.

  6. Mel Silberman, the father of the active training method, reminds instructional designers and facilitators that adults learn best by doing. One key to active training is to provide a moderate level of content. This helps ensure that the participants learn what they need to know, not everything there is to know.

  7. Adults learn in different ways. When developing your course, vary your approaches so that you balance visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learning.


  8. Develop real-world learning methods. Build the course content to closely match learners’ real jobs. Involve the participants in brainstorming and using their own material, cases, and examples.

  9. Develop and teach from job aids that the participants will use back on the job.

  10. Build in personal reflection time and activities like “Thinking CAP.” At the end of each lesson or module, ask participants to put on their thinking CAPs: Consider the lesson, how they will Apply the lesson, and what they will do back on the job to put it into Practice.

    To discover more of the tools necessary to develop powerful, bottom-line-focused training, join me for an upcoming Designing Learning Certificate Program.


About the Author

Geri is president and principal consultant of Geri Lopker & Associates LLC. Her international client list includes corporations, government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and Fortune 100 companies. Geri has been a performance consultant both as an internal area director of operations for a large healthcare agency, and as an external consultant with clients big and small. Geri has more than 20 years of experience working in the areas of systems, finance, change management, leadership, communication, strategic planning, team building, and customer relations. Geri earned a master's degree in human resources and organization development from the University of San Francisco. She earned the Certified Performance Technologist (CPT) certification in 2003.She earned the Certified Professional in Learning and Performance (CPLP) in 2007. She teaches the nationally acclaimed Human Performance Improvement in the Workplace Certificate series. She has also earned the HPI Certificate. She has received the Total Trainer Certificate from OC-ASTD and is senior faculty for the Total Trainer program. Geri is a past president of the International Society for Performance Improvement, Orange County Chapter. She is also a past president of ASTD’s Orange County chapter.

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