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How to Develop Online Training Programs that Work: A Goldilocks Analogy

Learning how to develop online training programs that are the highest possible quality is a life-long endeavor. Not only are new technologies changing what is possible and new studies increasing our knowledge of how adults learn, online class development is as much of an art form as it is a straightforward skill.


And as is the case with other forms of art, it cannot be effective without understanding how it impacts the audience, in this case, the learner. But what makes good online course development training from the learner’s perspective?


Let’s look at an unexpected analogy to help understand how to develop online training programs that are “just right”: Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Keep in mind during this analogy that none of the bears were trying to cater to Goldilocks’ preferences, but one managed to consistently find what Goldilocks preferred.


In the story, Goldilocks enters the home of the three bears while the bears are away. She finds three bowls of porridge, three chairs and three beds. Each time, one is too far on one extreme (hot, tall, then
soft), one is too far on the other extreme (cold, short and then hard), and one is “just right”.

Online training developers often face a similar temptation when trying to develop online training programs. It can be easy to create training that matches the preferences of the trainer more than meeting the needs of the learner.


However, the three areas for online class development where trainers
may make the training too extreme in one way or another are not the porridge, the chairs and the beds, but rather the usage of technology, the focus on new adult learning techniques, and the emphasis on
certain topics within the training.


Let’s break those down for the process of trying to develop online
training programs.


Many online training developers fall into two categories when it comes to using technology in the online training programs. Some keep up to date on the latest technological tools to keep their training programs cutting edge, while others are reluctant to add new technology into the mix. But most often, the “just right” balance of using technology depends on the learner.


Even online training developers must seek to understand their target learners. Some demographics of learners may find new technology
cumbersome and distracting to the goals of the learning, while others may see new technology as engaging to the process of learning.


Similarly, when going to develop online training programs, some developers may try to incorporate the newest theories and findings of how adults learn, while others may opt for an “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it” mentality.


Again, it all depends on the target learner. If the target learner is a hard-core technician, using more technical writing onscreen may be appropriate, even if that isn’t what the latest studies suggest.


Last, and perhaps most tempting for online training developers is giving too much or too little emphasis on certain aspects of the curriculum when they develop online training programs. Too often training developers focus more on what is interesting than what the learner needs to know. This can distract the learner from obtaining the knowledge they need, and even lead to reduced test scores if there is a standardized test after the training. In any case, try to fight the temptations of placing your preferences above the needs of the target
learner when you develop online training programs.

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