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Successful courses don’t just appear out of thin air. In fact, they take a lot of hard work, deep thought, and constant evaluation. But if you’re stuck for a blueprint on how to get started, follow these easy steps to design a killer course.

1. Training Needs Assessment

 When you’re designing a new course, you need to be sure that it meets the needs of your potential learners. That’s where a training needs assessment comes in.

The first step on this journey is to identify a clear goal that the training supports. It is important to pinpoint exactly what your potential attendees are going to be aiming for and the results and benefits they’d like to enjoy. Once you understand this you can start building your course around it.

When you have defined the goal, you need to break down exactly what the delegate needs to do to reach that goal.

There will be a pretty clear gap between what they are doing now and what they have to be able to do to reach that goal that you can use to inform the design of your course.

 2. Understand Your Learners

As your course begins to take shape it’s time to turn your attention to how the attendees are going to be learning to fill the ‘gap’ between where they are now and their goal. At this point, it is important to think about mixing up learning styles, so you appeal to different types of learners. For example, you may use short overviews and explanations followed by more hands-on tasks or worksheets to support their learning.

To expand on the point above, it is crucial that you understand your learners and their characteristics when it comes to developing skills and retaining information. As a general rule, it is important to recognise adult learning principles for a more effective training program.

Adult learners:

  • Are self-directed
  • Come to training with a lifetime of existing knowledge, experience and opinions
  • Are goal-oriented
  • Want training that is relevant
  • Want training that is task-oriented
  • Learn when they see “what’s in it for them”
  • Want to be and feel respected

By honouring these learning principles, your attendees will be engaging and eager to learn within your training programme and will take away what they are looking to learn from your course.

3.  Define Learning Objectives

Learning objectives form the foundation of your course. They are a list of things your attendees will be able to do once the training is completed and form a blue print for the direction of your course.

Once you have thrashed out these, all of your content should cover them, whether that be quizzes, practical tasks, workbooks, etc. Through the completion of content both the course leader and the attendees should be able to understand how what they have learnt hits the objective on the head – and how they’ll apply this to the ‘real world’.

4. Design Your Training Materials

Training materials are the things that will help your learners to reach their objectives, and ultimately their goal. Without your materials, no matter how much knowledge you possess on the subject, your learners will struggle to assimilate the information without engaging in meaningful and relevant learning episodes.

Again, any content or assessments must relate directly to the learning objectives. If it is cryptic or difficult to relate to, your learners will struggle to see what’s in it for them, and disengage. If we revisit the learning principles, you’ll see that your adult learners are self-directed and want training that is task-oriented, so it’s important that you put them in control of the learning process. This means allowing learners to talk to each other, give feedback and ask questions.

Once your training course is complete, it’s time to deliver the first run, which is exciting and scary at the same time. But don’t worry! These first courses will give you the feedback and experience you need to refine and change the course if needs be. Don’t be afraid to ask learners what they enjoyed and what they didn’t enjoy, so you can chop and change the training for the next run!

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