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May 2013
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TD Magazine

Three Key Ingredients for Learner-Centered Software Training

Picture this: In the back of a dimly-lit room with a computer screen displayed on a projector, an instructor plods through every screen and field of the software in excruciating detail. The students, who are supposed to be following along, are two screens ahead, two screens behind, or even worse, surfing the web. It doesn't have to be that way.

"We can shift the existing paradigm to better harness the classroom environment," says Sarah Wakefield, author of the May 2013 Infoline, "Design Engaging Software Training." "To do this, we first need to take a motivating, active, and pragmatic approach to student-centered software training." Here's more on these ingredients:

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Motivation. Create an environment where students want to learn about the software. If you are able to convince students that the software really will benefit them, then the students are likely to be more receptive, and learning can occur.

Interactivity. For interactivity to make an impact, it must be tied to course objectives and the workplace. Rather than focusing on data entry, create interactive moments that allow an analysis of software outputs, reports, and trouble-shooting. In short, remember the real world.

Documentation. Provide well-thought-out work instructions for course exercises. Course documentation has to be of excellent quality and task-based, covering the tasks students will be doing in the course exercises.

These tips were adapted from the May 2013 Infoline, "Design Engaging Software Training." For more information, go to www.astd.org/infoline.

About the Author

The Association for Talent Development (ATD) is a professional membership organization supporting those who develop the knowledge and skills of employees in organizations around the world. The ATD Staff, along with a worldwide network of volunteers work to empower professionals to develop talent in the workplace.

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