Designing training modules involves creating a package of material about a specific subject or activity from which people can learn. In some cases, it may involve providing a framework and content which others can use to teach that subject. It's important to be clear who your module is for. Whether it's for a subject or activity, both types of training modules are similar in that they contain clearly stated learning objectives and a sound structure with user-friendly supporting materials.
Provide an outline of the content of the module. Describe clearly what is covered and what is not. State who the module is intended for and what level of previous knowledge they will need to have. Give details of the intended learning outcomes using a phrase such as, “At the end of this module students will be able to…”. Describe how the module relates to other similar modules and whether it is part of a series.
Break down the content of the module into a topic framework to provide a logical structure. Topics should move from the general to the specific and from easy to increasingly difficult. Indicate the approximate amount of time each topic area should take and recommended time to spend on additional exercises or reading. If the module is being written for trainers, provide a suggested timetable for delivering the content.
Include information in a wide range of formats to meet the needs of different learning styles. Some people are highly visual learners and learn through reading or viewing. Others like to listen to material while some learn most through feeling and touching. It may not be possible to address all learning styles equally in the module, but provide suggested exercises and resource lists which do reflect this. You can also direct learners toward finding out more about their own learning style.
Use plenty of models, diagrams and case studies to bring your learning material to life. All of these can make the topic easier to understand. Ask learners to relate the concepts to their own experience. Incorporate a list of key points and a short quiz at the end of each topic area, so that learners can use these to check their progress.
If you are providing the module for trainers, provide Microsoft PowerPoint material and handouts. For both trainers and learners themselves, give plenty of references to additional reading, websites, videos or other relevant material.
Avoid confusion. Be as precise as possible in naming the module. Provide a glossary of all key terms. Always trial your module with at least one trainer or learner before you launch it.
Be aware of your own familiarity with the material and always fully explain key concepts. Don't forget that no matter how serious or complex the topic, learning should be enjoyable and fun.
Dianne Bown-Wilson is a highly experienced writer, speaker, management consultant, executive coach and trainer. A professional writer since 1973, Bown-Wilson has written for numerous print and online publications. She is currently completing Ph.D. research in age management at Cranfield University, and she has co-authored two books: "Marketing, Management and Motivation," and "Primetastic!"