MANILA, Philippines - Corporate training, like any other teaching profession, calls for constant update of knowledge and skills of the trainers themselves. However, most “train the trainer” programs focus only on general topics, not on methods that help determine the effectiveness of a particular program or ensure the learning success of trainees. What many training professionals are missing out on is coaching in instructional design utilizing critical thinking and analysis to come up with the right solution to knowledge gaps in an organization, and implementing such solution in the most effective manner for the benefit of the trainees.
Instructional design is a relatively new concept in the Philippines, but it is gaining ground due to the added value it brings to individuals and organizations in the training field.
“Training professionals are unlocking their vast cache of dormant potential in becoming genuine educators or learning professionals with the help of instructional design,” says learning and development expert Armi Treñas, who founded Learning and Performance Partners Inc. (LPPI). “Whether as individual consultants or part of training organizations in large companies, learning instructional design spells increased productivity, efficiency, and job satisfaction as well.”
She said the tendency to overlook the learning needs of trainees stems from the fact that majority of trainers start out as subject matter experts and practitioners in their field. And so in drawing up training programs, the tendency is to think of what needs to be taught or what can be taught, rather than what the trainees need to learn.
“Albeit instructive, the point of view tends to be narrow and shortsighted, rather than being responsive to what is lacking,” explains Armi.
Ramon P., a technical trainer on economics, says that after he underwent an LPPI “training the trainers” workshop oriented toward instructional design, “I realized that being a technical expert doesn’t make you a good trainer. Before, I just taught what I wanted to teach, not what my trainees needed to learn.”
These “train-the-trainers” workshops benefit not only technical or hard skills training but soft skills training as well.
“I saw for myself how ‘soft skills’ trainers have also made their programs much clearer and sharper through instructional design,” adds Ramon. Soft skills concern personal attributes, communication and other abilities related to effective and successful interpersonal relationships.
Such is the magnitude of instructional design becoming aware of what makes a good learning intervention for trainees.
In the corporate world, the same critical thinking and awareness developed by instructional design is also beneficial to human resources personnel tasked to handle training requirements.
Take for instance the following scenario that plays out in many companies and organizations these daysthe department head identifies a potential problem area in their group, most commonly in the form of skills or knowledge deficiency. The boss calls up the HR department to request for a training program based on the perceived problem. The training department then brings in the subject matter expert, externally if necessary, and comes up with a training module for implementation. However, a few weeks or months thereafter, the boss is still searching for proof that the team is actually experiencing practical or tangible improvements.
Companies have tended to follow routine behavior in training implementation that there is little, if any, critical analysis of the actual situation and what the situation calls for, and discovery of the methods that would ensure proper learning. Human resource professionals would benefit greatly from mastering the discipline of instructional design in order to draw up and recommend more effective, relevant and accurate training programs.
“Instructional design proves to be beneficial for HR personnel as it makes it possible for them to scrutinize training proposals better and to discern the needs of trainees. Training then becomes a joint effort with the subject matter expert instead of simply having the trainer as a separate resource from the technical expert,” adds Armi.