On writing training programs

By on April 9, 2007 9:21 am

In the past two or so months that I’ve been an employee of SitePen, my main task has been to design and write the materials for the majority of our new training course offering’s including slides, activity handouts, working code equivalents, slide design (which in the end Torrey did, a brilliant job too), and other branding aspects. On top of that, I’ve had to design these materials in such a way as to allow any of the SitePen instructors to create a specific course in a minimum amount of time with the ability to cherry-pick among various topics all to give our clientele the best learning experience possible.

The result has been to take a modularized approach to training materials. Like with the Dojo Toolkit (the main focus of our training offerings), I created a set of resources by topic that any of our instructors can then use to assemble a full presentation. You simply open the Keynote presentation on that particular topic, and drag all of the slides to the show that you’re working on. Very simple and neat!

But pretty hard to actually create. A number of factors had to be taken into account not the least of which is how much time is to be spent on a topic, on average. In order to figure that out, I had to make the assumption that I was the one teaching the course, that I’d planned on X amount of time per topic (the assumption ranged from 15 minutes to a full hour or more). To do that, I had to design an actual, physical course (which I did) and then write content based on the schedule for that course. Despite the fact that I used to teach as a Lecturer at a major university, it was still very difficult to do simply because I couldn’t just “wing it”, which is something I discovered I relied on pretty heavily. Each of our instructors have different backgrounds and approach a training session in a slightly different manner, and all of that had to be taken into account as well.

The end result is a standardized but flexible training regimen in which our instructors are saved the pain of creating content from scratch for each individual show, with a central training resource repository that I expect will only grow from here.

Now just wait for the demonstration application ideas being hatched!

In the next post, I’ll talk a little bit about slide design dos and don’ts, goals, and more.