Sunday, July 18, 2010

Vogel's 12 Rules for Commercial Course Development, Or Trolling for evals

  1. People come to courses to get solutions for their problems—not to learn some technique, tool, or technology. The technique/tool/technology is just a means to an end. Which means: First you have to know the audience's problems. Then you have to know the field.

  2. Set expectations appropriately: At the start of the course tell participants what problems you're going to solve. Encourage people who don't have those problems to leave. Now. Use this time to also get the participants to tell you what they care about.

  3. Start in Chapter 2: Participants aren't interested in the history of the field, the underlying principles. Skip that. Start solving their problems right after setting expectations. If there are principles that will help them organize their problem solving skills or develop new skills keep it to one slide now and then. And consider describing those principles only after you've shown them how to solve their problems.

  4. If you're not telling the participants how to do something or how to do it better…why are you taking up the participant's time? If you're not telling them how to do something that the participants care about you'd better either make them care (by tying it to something that the participants do care about) or drop it.

  5. JITT/TIA: Just-in-Time Training—Don't tell the participants anything until just before they need it/Training in Action—as soon as you tell the participants something, give them a chance to do it. Right now.

  6. Examples matter. Make sure that the examples reflect the participant's world with their problems. An immersive case study that where the participants have a role is best. A consistent case study throughout the course is more than "good enough." But if there's a problem that you're going to address that won't fit into a case study with the other problems, don't force it: make it a standalone exercise.

  7. Respect your audience: They know a lot of stuff. At the very least they know what their problems are (though they may need help codifying that knowledge) and what their expectations are (as before).

  8. Don't do trade-offs: something for this group, something for that group. Solve the problems that everyone in the audience shares.

  9. The three biggest questions on the audience's mind are: "What do I do first?", "What do I do next?", and "What do I do NOW?" Give them roadmaps, decision trees, guides—tell them what to do when and when to do it.

  10. Use graphics to explain. If you're an instructor or course author then you're probably word oriented. Most of the population is picture oriented—talk to them with graphics. Don't use visual puns: a word appears on the slide so you put a picture of it on the page ("software bus" = picture of a double-decker bus). Use flowcharts, diagrams, arrows, whatever to say in pictures what the slide says in words.

  11. Throughout the course show progress. Advertise what you all have accomplished—otherwise participants may not notice.

  12. Have a finish that delivers on the audience's goal. Then hand out the evaluation forms.
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