How to Write Training Modules - 8 Easy Steps
TeamOJT Tip of the Month for October, 2003
Once you have a list of job tasks that can be taught and learned in 1/2 hour (see the September Tip of the Month), you are ready to develop the content for the training modules. Training modules are the heart and soul of a structured on-the-job training (OJT) program. Without them, even the best trainers flounder. Training modules have several purposes:
The content for training modules should be developed by a team of employees who do the job on a regular basis. Having teams create the material speeds up the process dramatically and ensures buy-in from the people who will be most affected. Ideally, the team should consist of employees who are subject matter experts, those workers who are knowledgeable in the job but not experts yet, as well as trainees or newcomers who do not know the job. Trainees play the vital role of "devil's advocate" by asking questions - the meaning of acronyms that are unfamiliar, names and location of equipment or tools, etc. With this diverse group, you will be sure to develop the training at just the right level for trainees. When subject matter experts alone develop the training material, it may be "over the heads" of most trainees or may leave out important information that the trainee might not feel comfortable questioning in a training situation.
A simple two-column format like the sample worksheet at the end of this document works very well for most job tasks. Once you get the team organized, schedule a meeting and get started. Meeting times of one to two hours are recommended. Once up and running, teams can produce 2 to 4 modules per hour.
Before You Start Writing!
At the beginning of the meeting define for the team the following four terms:
Now You're Ready To Write A Training Module!
Simply follow the steps below:
STEP 1 - Draw a two-column format on a flipchart or whiteboard so that everyone can see. (Use the worksheet below as a model.)
STEP 2 - Select a job task. The team should be able to readily identify a task that needs training (even if you haven't conducted a job task analysis). Make sure that you select a task that can be taught and learned in 1/2 hour; otherwise, the training module will be too long and cumbersome.
Make sure to state the job task as an action verb + object.
Example: "Complete Claim Forms"
STEP 3 - Write module number and title. For now, just enter number 1. The title is easy. Simply add "How to" to the job task.
Example: Title: How to Complete Claim Forms
STEP 4 - Write the first action step in column 1.
Ask the team, "What is the first action you want a trainee to take?" Check for consensus and write the answer. Remember to write the action step as action verb + object.
STEP 5 - Write the corresponding action substep in column 2. Recall that action substeps may include why, when, where, how, safety, and quality, or any other explanatory information - whatever is appropriate.
STEP 6 - Write the next action step.
STEP 7 - Place graphics where appropriate.
Ask, "Would the addition of graphics clarify steps or substeps?" If yes, note that in the appropriate space(s) in the module and, later, arrange for obtaining the graphic(s). Graphics may be placed in either column, but should be inserted adjacent to the appropriate step and in the same page as the written part of the step, if possible.
STEP 8 - Reorder the steps and modify - if necessary.
NOTE: Try out the module a couple of times before using for training.
If you have any questions, please call (206) 447-0860 or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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