In a recent instructional design workshop, we had a discussion about how to manage course updates. In areas like technology, where things change quickly and often, how can designers manage those changes without having to revise course materials monthly, weekly, or even daily?
I worked in a technical training environment before coming to Langevin, so I'd like to offer three suggestions for managing course updates. Your involvement with other teams, the materials you create, and the design schedule you set, will all contribute to your success.
1. Stay Involved With Other Teams
As a designer, you can't work in isolation. You need to be involved in the planning of meetings of other teams in your organization. Why? Because attending these meetings will give you a great perspective about what's coming down the road. For example, if you find out that there will be a major system change in six months, you can get involved now to begin planning for the changes to your training courses. I encourage you to be willing to help create task analysis documentation, test the new system, and work with subject-matter experts (SMEs) to get a clear picture of the impact of these changes.
2. Create Materials
You know that creating course materials can be time consuming for a designer. The good news is that sometimes revisions or updates may only require minor changes to existing course materials. Maybe a supplemental handout is enough until you can incorporate the changes into the course manual, eliminating the need to reprint your entire manual every time a change occurs. If you incorporate a “Style Guide” to ensure consistent formatting, this becomes a much more efficient process.
In addition, it is important to update your Lesson Plan, so the instructor is clear about where to find all updated materials. Provide each instructor with an “At-a-Glance” job aid with a high-level description and the location of each change. These references will help each instructor smoothly transition to the updated course.
3. Set the Design Schedule
You also need to determine when to schedule updates. Depending on your business, once or twice a year is usually often enough for major course updates. Remember, you may have created handouts along the way to address those “immediate” changes. Now is the time to add those documents to your course manual. It's also a great opportunity to remove outdated content.
When it comes to course updates, remember that your organization determines what will change, your SMEs provide insight on how that change will impact employees, and you manage those updates to create training that will prepare employees for success.