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How to Decide Whether to Fix a Course or Scrap it

Posted by Steve Flanagan on 9/22/14 4:00 AM
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My wife and I recently gave up city living and bought a farm. Fourteen acres of grapes, a big farm house and a huge barn, all in a beautiful country setting. We knew it was going to be an adjustment in our life style, but we really had no idea how much. The grape vines need a bit of work after some years of harsh winter weather and unfriendly bugs. We had to make some decisions about some of our varieties; do we prune, tie, fertilize, and nurture these plants back to health or do we pull them up and replant?


These decisions are actually quite similar to decisions made in training departments. Training managers often struggle with the decision of whether to revamp an ineffective course or to scrap it and start again.


Here are five questions to consider when deciding whether a course can be fixed or if it just needs to be scrapped:

1. Is the course still relevant?

Sometimes a course is delivered over time just because it's there. A decision needs to be made to determine if the program is still needed by the employees who are going through it. If the course is not needed, stop running it!

2. Is the content up to date?

Sometimes updating content is an easy fix; however, if a course’s content is completely out of date then a complete revamp is needed.

3. Is the content valid?

The extent to which course content is not accurate or is incomplete can greatly affect the decision to fix it or start over. Again, there is a fine line between correcting inaccurate information and filling in some missing points versus redoing the whole thing.

4. Are the instructional methods sound?

Ask the question, "Are we teaching the right content, and, are we teaching it the right way?" A change in instructional methods can be a way to save good content without starting over completely.

5. Is the delivery strategy appropriate?

If the conditions are appropriate, continue the instructor-led training (ILT). If there are high numbers of learners who are geographically dispersed and the technical infrastructure is in place, then converting the existing content to an e-learning solution might be appropriate.


When determining if a course can be fixed or needs to be scrapped, there is no magic formula. A close look at the impact of all the factors needs to be considered. So either fix it or scrap it. In the end, training departments need to deliver quality products, not ineffective courses.


Training managers, check out The Successful Training Manager workshop where you'll learn how to align training with organizational needs to deliver cost-effective, first-class training.


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Steve has been a course leader with Langevin since 2000. He completed a Bachelor of Arts degree in Physical Education and dreamed of being a pro soccer player. Steve translated his love of soccer and physical performance to the corporate sector and became a trainer. He’s had the pleasure of training within the government, large corporations, and as an independent consultant. Outside of training, Steve’s two biggest passions are his family and guitars, which he collects and plays!

Tags: managing training

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Our very own world-class course leaders share their experiences, tips, best practices, and expertise on virtual training, instructional design, needs analysis, e-learning, delivery, evaluation, presentation skills, facilitation, and much more!

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