What is the first step in a training design process?

The first step in a training design process

I have over thirty years of experience as a workplace trainer. In my experience, the first step in a training design process is typically conducting a “Training Needs Analysis.” This step involves identifying and understanding the gap between the target audience’s current skills, knowledge, and performance and the desired skills, knowledge, and performance required to meet specific goals or objectives.

During the needs assessment phase, you can use various methods can be used to gather relevant information.

These methods may include interviewing stakeholders and subject matter experts, distributing surveys or questionnaires to employees, analyzing performance data, and observing work processes.

This is where I aim to collect and analyze data that will shed light on the specific areas where training intervention is required.

By conducting a thorough needs assessment, trainers gain valuable insights into the organizational context, the skill gaps that exist within teams or departments, and the specific challenges employees face in performing their roles effectively.

This information provides a solid foundation for designing a training program to address the identified needs and ultimately enhance individual and team performance.

The needs assessment phase is also an opportune time to identify any existing resources or expertise within the organization that can be leveraged to support the training initiative.

This could include internal subject matter experts who can contribute their knowledge, existing training materials that can be repurposed, or technology tools that can be utilized to enhance the learning experience.

I say the needs assessment step is critical in training design, as it sets the stage for developing a targeted and effective training program.

By carefully analyzing the current and desired performance levels, trainers can tailor the content and delivery methods to bridge the identified gaps, ensuring that the training program aligns with the specific needs and objectives of the organization.

Once I am clear on why I am designing the training and what the training needs are, I start another form of analysis using the A.D.D.I.E. process.

Meet A.D.D.I.E.- my best friend 🙂

As you likely know, ADDIE is a widely used model in the field of instructional design.

Developed in the 1970s, it stands for Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, and Evaluation. Each phase of the ADDIE model plays a crucial role in creating effective instructional materials that cater to the needs of learners. For me, the process is not a static one.

Depending on the project’s complexity, I often begin analysis, then design – only to return to analysis because some aspect of the production has changed.

By production, I’m mainly speaking of my role as an IT trainer. I created and trained staff development and volunteer development training content for years. It was fun, but sometimes you need a fresh challenge. I ventured into IT Training for a fresh challenge a few years ago.

For me, personally, ADDIE is the all-important first step in a training design process.

Me, an IT Trainer and Designer?

In IT training, a trainer has to remain agile (click here to see what I mean) and flexible. For instance, the software may not be finished when training starts, or something could impede technical development.

The analysis phase involves gathering information about the target audience, their learning goals, and any existing materials or resources.

I love this part of the work because I love learning.

It is so fun to conduct exploratory interviews to learn exactly what people do in their job roles. I also do task analysis, chronicling each step a person/people take to complete tasks.

This phase helps me understand the specific requirements and constraints of the project.

Another first step in a training design process is the design phase of your training course.

In the Design phase, the instructional objectives are defined, and the overall structure and format of the instructional materials are determined.

The design phase focuses on creating a blueprint for the instructional content, including the sequencing of topics, selection of multimedia elements, and organization of learning activities.

I think one of the main tasks in the design phase is to create a blueprint for the instructional content.

Since I am a conceptual thinker, I like this part most.

Creating a training blueprint includes determining the sequencing of topics, selecting appropriate multimedia elements, and organizing learning activities.

This is where I carefully and meticulously determine the flow of the training content to ensure a logical progression of information and activities, making it easier for learners to understand and retain the material. It is my preference that one element builds upon the next.

In my experience, nothing is worse for the learner than a disjointed, illogical training session.

How will you train the learners?

The design phase also involves identifying and choosing the most suitable instructional strategies and methods to deliver the content effectively.

This may include selecting the appropriate media formats, such as text, images, videos, or interactive elements, to engage learners and support their understanding and retention of the material. These days, this is reduced to LMS or self-paced training. It’s expensive for a trainer to travel or go to a training venue. CBT or computer-based training is a logical mode of teaching.

Furthermore, for the instructional design end of my work, I pay attention to the accessibility and usability of the instructional materials.

I like to ensure the content is presented clearly and concisely, using appropriate language for the target audience. I also consider the layout and design elements to ensure the materials are visually appealing and easy to navigate.

Overall, the design phase is such an important first step in a training design process and in creating effective training. It lays the foundation for the development phase, where the materials’ actual creation and production occur.

By carefully planning and designing the instructional content, instructional designers set the stage for a successful learning experience for the learners.

first step in a training design process

Let’s development things!

Once the design is in place, the Development phase comes into play. This phase is where the actual creation of the instructional materials takes place.

During the Development phase, I partner with subject matter experts – or SMEs-to join forces to bring the instructional materials to life. This collaborative effort involves thoroughly examining the learning objectives and exploring the most effective instructional strategies to achieve those objectives.

First and foremost, the instructional content is carefully developed. It involves crafting clear and concise explanations, breaking down complex concepts into digestible chunks, and organizing the information logically and coherently.

The content should be engaging and informative, catering to learners of various backgrounds and learning styles.

In addition to the written content, interactive exercises play a pivotal role in learning.

These exercises allow learners to engage with the material actively, reinforcing their understanding through hands-on practice.

Whether it’s solving problems, completing simulations, or participating in virtual scenarios, interactive exercises allow learners to apply their knowledge and receive immediate feedback. If they cannot apply the knowledge, learning transfer has not occurred, and my training was a big, fat failure.

How do you know they learned?

Assessments are also an integral part of the Development phase.

This may seem like something you think about at the end of your training project, but I want you to consider it a first step in a training design process. Ask yourself, “How will I know this training is successful?”

They serve as checkpoints to evaluate learners’ comprehension and retention of the instructional content.

Designing effective assessments involves crafting thought-provoking questions, scenarios, or tasks that accurately measure learners’ understanding.

This feedback loop allows learners to identify areas of strength and areas that need improvement, guiding their learning journey.

Often, I assess in real-time by launching discussions with my class. Simple “What do you remember about…” questions are great ways to ensure adult learners understand the content.

Make your questions controversial to get more interaction. For example, “This new system doesn’t have a good help section, does it?”

Note: be sure the affirmative is true before you open this pandora’s box. I would only make that statement if I knew the learners LOVED the help section.

Things that move and are pretty 🙂

Furthermore, multimedia elements such as videos, audio, and graphics are developed to enhance the instructional experience. Videos can be utilized to demonstrate complex procedures, showcase real-world examples, or feature expert interviews. Audio components, such as narration or podcasts, can provide learners an alternative way of accessing the content.

Graphics, diagrams, and illustrations help visualize concepts and facilitate understanding.

Sometimes, before I start designing the training content, as a first step in a training design process, I brainstorm the type of media I would “like” to use. Then I can eliminate them as I learn and plan.

Throughout the Development phase, collaboration and iteration are key. Instructional designers and subject matter experts work closely together, reviewing and refining the content, exercises, assessments, and multimedia elements to ensure they align with the learning objectives.

This iterative process allows for continuous improvement and the creation of high-quality instructional materials.

You’ve done lots of planning – let’s get to it!

I sound like a True Color’s Orange personality with that subheading. Click to see what I’m talking about.

Anyway, with the materials created, the Implementation phase of A.D.D.I.E is all about delivering the instruction to the learners.

This phase involves conducting pilot tests, training instructors, and making any necessary revisions before launching the instructional program.

Implementation also includes choosing the appropriate delivery method, whether it’s through e-learning platforms, in-person training sessions, or blended learning environments.

Finally, find out if you were successful or not.

Lastly, the Evaluation phase focuses on assessing the effectiveness of the instructional design. It involves collecting feedback from learners, analyzing assessment results, and evaluating the overall impact of the instruction on the learners’ knowledge and skills.

The evaluation phase provides valuable insights for future improvements and informs the revision and refinement of the instructional materials.

You can do formative evaluations like post-training evaluations or compile all data and formulate your summative evaluation to measure the entire training program.

It ensures that the instructional design process is thorough, iterative, and learner-centered, resulting in effective and engaging learning experiences.

This pivotal step enables you and your training team to identify and understand the gaps between the target audience’s skills, knowledge, and performance and the desired level of skills, knowledge, and performance necessary to achieve specific goals or objectives.

Another approach to the first step in a training design process.

The first step in a training design process is Identifying the Problem or Opportunity: Clearly define the purpose of the training. This may seem like a “duh” question, but I’ve encountered many people who don’t complete this exploratory step. Ask yourself, is there a specific performance issue that needs to be addressed? Or is there an opportunity to enhance skills for future needs? This step involves understanding the context and the reasons for conducting the training.

Another first step in a training design process is Identifying the Target Audience: Another important first step in a training design process is to determine who will be the participants or learners in the training. Understand their current skill levels, knowledge, and any challenges they might be facing.

The 3rd first step in a training design process has to be Defining Objectives: Establish clear and measurable learning objectives for the training. I love this part of my work because it’s like fitting puzzle pieces together.

Competencies must fit into objectives, and measurable verbs are the cornerstone. These objectives should outline what participants can do or know by the end of the training. Objectives help guide the content and structure of the training.

Conducting a Gap Analysis is also a first step in a training design process. Compare the target audience’s current performance with the objectives’ desired performance. This helps identify the gaps in knowledge and skills that need to be addressed through the training.

Collecting data is not really the first step in a training design process. But I say you have to do it. Use various methods such as surveys, interviews, observations, and performance data to gather information about the current state and the target audience’s specific needs.

Analyzing Data: Once the data is collected, analyze it to gain insights into the specific areas where training is required. This will help you prioritize training topics and content.

You want to do it all. You may want to cover it all. But Setting Priorities based on the analysis prioritizes the training needs. Not all identified needs might be equally important or urgent. Focus on the areas that will have the most significant impact on performance or results.

What are the Training Goals? Not to be confused with the learning objectives. The training goals look at the larger picture of what people should learn.

It includes the affective element of learning, like how people feel and exchange information.

Learning objectives, however, revolve around what is learned, to what degree, and who is learning. Clearly articulate the overall goals of the training program. These goals should align with the identified needs and objectives.

Stakeholder Involvement: Involve relevant stakeholders such as subject matter experts, managers, and learners themselves to ensure that the needs assessment is comprehensive and accurate.

Ok. I fudged a bit and made everything a first step in a training design process.

Technically, they are not all the first step in a training design process, but you must bear them all in mind when planning your training process.

Good luck, and I wish you an amazing training product!