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Efficient New Hire Training Design without Constraints

It would be great if we had all the time in the world to get someone up to speed when they start their job, but that’s just never how it is, right? As the developer of our systems training design for new hires here at Allen, my latest project is to revise our new hire training to be shorter and more effective.
There is so much to consider when looking at training from an efficiency perspective:

  • The learners should have the support and resources they need but to be able to complete the training on their own as much as possible.
  • The learning objectives should be based on and the whole training focused on the important tasks learners need to be able to perform.
  • Instead of receiving instruction and then practicing, the training should be designed so learners are immediately immersed in practicing the tasks they’ll need to do on the job and referencing resources as necessary.
  • Even though learners need to learn a lot in a short amount of time, they shouldn’t feel overwhelmed.
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When I update our training, I always revisit the important tasks I want learners to be able to do on the job as a result of this training. If efficiency is the goal, the list should be as streamlined as possible.

Next, I break down the tasks until I have the basic steps for each task. These steps are the fundamental skills I need to demonstrate and give learners a chance to practice.

Currently, we are teaching our learners how our development tool works through a series of screencasts. Each screencast was created by a different team member to demonstrate a different aspect of the tool, and our learners can access them as needed once they’ve completed the training. The training takes our learners through the levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy: comprehend, apply, analyze, synthesize, and finally, create. After they watch a screencast, we ask learners to complete an assignment on that topic. Once they’ve completed the series, we assign them to replicate activities from an existing course. Finally, we give them sample content to analyze and design activities on their own.

I’m revising the training based on the results of our beta testing. We have discovered that our learners don’t need as much scaffolding and practice to meet the learning objectives. With the new design, they will be moving more quickly toward creating complex activities using our development tool. I’m also adding some new skills for them to learn during their first week on the job. More will be required of them at every step, and the revised assignments will closely mirror their future work assignments.

I’m sure other instructional designers would agree that we like to design without any constraints, and then we scale back our ideas if necessary. However, I’m starting to see that designing with efficiency in mind is not constraining. It pushes you to try new ways of doing things and consider new possibilities. This is great from a business perspective but also great for our learners, who will be well prepared for their jobs sooner.

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