A Training Manual or Material is a compilation of instructions. It has an objective of developing an improved approach towards enhancing the productivity of a particular task. Training material is used for almost every other thing we use in our daily life. Not an appliance comes without a booklet that trains you in mastering its use. In fact the big daddies of the mobile world like Apple and Samsung have even introduced m-manuals in their respective stores to equip users with the latest software updates and the multitude of new options that are available for them.
Interestingly, one needs an instructional manual even for compiling a manual and for perfecting its use. As an instructional designer, you maynow and then refer to such materials in order to write a better reading material for training. Here is a quick list of things to remember for writing good training material whether in print or for e-learning modules:
This includes answering a set of questions:
What? The subject matter addressed. For example, what will the trainees learn out of this?
For whom? Target audience. Is the reading material meant for the marketing staff or the technical staff?
How many? The number of learners targeted should be. Are they 50-100 trainees based in a particular branch? Or is the material meant for learners present in multiple branches around the world?
Which Medium? Whether print, presentation based or e-based. Each of these must have its own content strategy to ensure maximum effectiveness.
How? Steps Involved. Questions regarding work allocation, gathering content and images, etc. may be answered in this phase.
Answers to the above questions help one decipher the objectives of creating the manual. Thus, the designer based on the above inquiry chalks out the objectives of the training material. Once done, he can proceed to step two.
Chalking out a plan:
A plan is synonymous to a prototype and gives an overview of the approach towards developing the material. Here the objectives are revisited. Each objective is now allocated an estimated time frame that shall be enough to impart insights into that concept or area of training. Based on these time periods a schedule is chalked out together with a list of available resources and those required.
Enlisting the materials required:
The list we arrived at in the previous step should then be formally prepared. It should first state all the materials that are required, followed by another list of the ones that are already available to the organisation, followed by those that are to be arranged. For example, the stock of images that will accompany the text.
To this list can be added presentation slides to be given away as CD-ROMs or downloadable web links; screenshots that can be printed or made available besides the training schedule; short videos that can also be made available as CD-ROMs or downloadable links.
Elaborating the objectives and highlighting the core skills:
The participants as well as the trainer should have a clear idea of what the learnersshall gain in the end of the exercise. They should thus elaborate the core areas so as to attract the best audience that knows what they need to expect out of the enterprise. The trainer is also able to stay on track as he can refer to these statements back and forth.
Thus, a separate section should be devoted to each objective. Each of these sections should enlist the sub-objectives that lead to the primary goal. Introducing the topic, the functional areas, the importance and the benefits is central to the entire theme.
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