Designing a training course

By the end of this course

participants will:

· understand the purpose of training

· be able to set objectives for training

· be able to decide what the course content should be

· understand the importance of the methods of training


This paper is in five parts:

1 the aims of training

2 the objectives of training

3 what is to be learned

4 how it is to be learned and

5 conclusions.

1 Aims

The aims of training are about asking why do we train:

· what is our philosophy

· how do the ways that people learn effect results

· are there any ground rules?

For example

Our approach to training and development is always centred around people – their skills, their ideas, their ability to work effectively together.

We aim to promote the potential of every person to fulfil their calling and thus their potential.

Henry Stewart of Happy Computers comments

· I believe everybody is born into this world intelligent, capable, and eager to learn (if not immediately about computers).

· We are all natural learners, trying things out, finding out if it works, and then trying again.

· We are all as trainers still learning.

This attitude, of taking full responsibility, makes the difference between a trainer determined always to improve and the slippery slope of assuming we know how to do it already, which leads to ignoring your own faults and mistakes.

Stewart has some key principles

All students should be encouraged to experiment and to make mistakes. We learn by getting things wrong

Take full responsibility for your training. Never blame the student if they don’t learn

· I tell you – you forget

· I show you – you remember

· I involve you – you understand.

Good training requires clear principles and techniques, based on involving and empowering students. The ultimate goal of training must be to shift people to that natural eagerness to learn.

Kolb uses the idea of a learning circle

· experiencing something

· observing and reflecting

· forming theories and generalizations

· testing ideas in new situations

How we learn

Human beings (that should be you and me…) learn as whole persons, via a process, and in relation to ourselves and others.

The whole person

The best work and learning occurs when all five senses are being used together.

The following guidelines for an efficient and effective work space also apply to a training venue.


The more you appeal to the whole of one self, the more you will want to be in the environment.

Work space should be a pleasure rather than a prison.

Include such items as paintings and other artwork that appeals to you, plants, any of your own creations, and anything else relevant to your work and which appeals to one or all of your five senses. The most efficient work is achieved when all five senses are being used together.

Air; should be as fresh and clean as possible. Minds use 20-50% of the oxygen the body takes in, although it only weighs 3% of body weight.

Temperature – best to be slightly cool, dressed in warm clothes. Too warm causes relaxation and drowsiness.

Light – sunlight is best – near windows. Fluorescent is poor because it eliminates shadows and results in tiring quickly. Need changes, variety, shadow in lighting, not a boring white wash.

Space – as much as possible – opens space produces an open posture, which leads to an open mind. The more you can appeal to all your senses in the work space, the more your mind will want to be there.

Desk – spacious, at correct height, and pleasing to touch and look at.

Chair – height so that feet rest flat on the ground, thighs parallel to ground, straight back, not too comfortable.

Organisation – work space should be organised to be completely supportive of you while working and everything within reach, removing all distractions.

The Process of learning

Learning should be

· a gradual process,

· step by step,

· extending from the known to the unknown,

· logical,

· connected,

· paused, and

· practised.

The process should be extending knowledge abilities and experience.


We always learn with another. If we are by ourselves, a learning process is occurring with ourselves. We motivate ourselves to learn.

When we are learning with an individual or a group we are able to receive feedback, another perspective on the shared experience.

A non – hierarchical, participatory way of working should be encouraged.

I tell you, you forget,

I show you, you remember,

I involve you, you understand.

The phrase “jug and mug” has been used to parody a trainer centred perspective, where the trainer is a jug full of wisdom which is poured out into the waiting mugs. (Pun intended).

Jug and mug should be used in a gradual, step by step way, extending logically from the known to unknown..

The Course Contract

The idea of a course contract is a useful way to set ground rules. This has two sides.

A good training service will:

· provide good pre course information, making clear what you will get out of the course and what you need to know in advance

· deliver a well structured day. The training session should have a clear structure, clear objectives and lots of exercises to try things out.

· · have trainers who are responsive to your questions and needs,

· · deliver relaxed, well explained training

· · write comprehensive high quality information to take away

· · give full after course advice and help.

The student must also agree

Training is about people meeting; you and me. It involves

  • Our abilities to work together

  • Our skills

  • Our experience

  • Our ideas

Training aims to promote

  • Our abilities

  • Our motivation

  • Our confidence

  • Our determination to succeed.

  • The methods used are to enable you to

    • Influence events


    • Participate


    • Co – operate


    • and learn together.


    Theire are clear underpinning values to training

    • Everyone has something to offer

    • We are free to make mistakes

    • We can enjoy ourselves

    • We will respect each other

    • We will ensure equal opportunities

    • We will encourage success

    • We will be open, listening, gentle, sharing and co – operative.

    2 The Objectives of Training

    This is the why specifically in comparison with the why generally of aims. This involves the processes of setting objectives.

    · Who wants training?

    · Is it the answer to their needs?

    · Why?

    This is the general planning level.


    Training objectives are not about what people will do on the course, but what they will do after the course, at work. They are about the behaviour sought in the work place; they are performance objectives.

    Objectives should state

    · What behaviour is sought

    · When and where the behaviour is to occur

    · To what standard

    Please compare this with a National Vocational Qualification Unit. Instead of running a course “about drugs” specific objectives might be

    By the end of this course participants will be able to:

    · Identify correctly the effects of commonly used drugs

    · Deal effectively with drug-related health care emergencies

    · Know what provision is available to drug users locally

    · Assess what provision is appropriate

    Any objective, as above, should be checked if it can be measured. SMART targets, specific, measurable agreed, realistic and timed are useful. (I’m not sure I believe this, but think I ought to put it somewhere!)


    Evaluation also requires planning in detail as part of the process of setting objectives. It is the way we can measure our effectiveness and find ways to improve.

    The trainer has first to evaluate themselves. This self evaluation should occur twice, immediately after the session, and later in the planned debriefing session.

    It should cover the high and low points and reasons why.

    The student’s self evaluation should be in indirect questions, for example,

    Please evaluate your confidence about…. (list course objectives)

    Indirect questions reveal faults in training, direct questions do not.

    Happiness sheets are thought not to be that useful. Because a student’s experience of education may be very poor, any training that is moderately good may be perceived as the best thing since sliced bread. Students should not be blamed if they fail to learn. Standard evaluation forms should be available for all training. This has the other effect of getting people used to the habit of evaluating and reporting on what is happening. This is a central managerial skill.

    3 What should be taught?

    The possible content of a course should be brain stormed and mind mapped. This is the process of asking what:

    · Knowledge,

    · Skills and

    · Attitudes

    · Must,

    · Should and

    · Could

    be covered.

    This nine-fold division should cover most eventualities. I recommend the Buzan video on mind mapping.

    4 How should training be delivered?

    Materials and Methods

    The how of training should be based on the principles outlined earlier. Training should be participatory.

    This means, for example chair lay out should be in gentle curves rather than serried ranks. The methods used should build on the experience of group work and of co-operative games.

    It is a theatrical experience, but one in which everyone are players, and only the general structures and parts of the words have been written.

    The wealth available from drama, role plays, music, art and dance should be considered as possibilities in the training room.

    There are very significant changes occurring with computers and multi-media. These experiences should be used as appropriate to create a magical experience.

    How can the music of the spheres be brought to our work?


    To conclude means to bring together, to complete, to finish properly. It is similar to an encore. How confident do you feel that:

    · You understand the purpose of training?

    · You are able to set training objectives?

    · You are able to decide on course content?

    You understand the importance of the methods of training?

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