Ditch the Bubbly: Water is What Matters.

May 19, 2015 09:23 by Dana Peters

Instructional designers and subject matter experts (SMEs) of virtual instructor-led training, this post is especially for you.

I know I am preaching to the choir when I say, “time is precious.” This sentiment is magnified in the virtual training space. After all, your intention is to offer your participants learning opportunities that support their success back on the job and, of course, you need to do it with less time.

If you struggle at what I refer to as the “pare-down process” when converting face-to-face classes to virtual classes, set the stage at your next design review meeting with this analogy.

Champagne vs Water

Think of all the information you have on your topic as either champagne or water. Champagne information is nice to have, an offshoot on the topic, or more of an FYI. Champagne information is not critical it’s a luxury. Learning objectives will be met without it.

Conversely, water information is essential to topic at hand; absolutely necessary to the learner being successful at reaching the learning goals, and for results to be achieved back on the job. Without water it is not likely learning objectives will be met.

I invite you to take a closer look.

Often times, virtual learning sessions are repurposed from longer, more in-depth, face-to-face learning sessions. But how do you take a half-day in-person class and turn it into a 90 minute virtual learning session without losing its effectiveness?

Now, SMEs, I know it’s not unusual for you to think every piece of content in your class is valuable. You are the experts and you’re passionate about your subjects. I respect that...a lot. Designers, this is where your SMEs need your guidance to stay on track.  

With your well-crafted learning objectives front and center, comb through the material page-by-page or slide-by-slide; decide what absolutely needs to be included in order for your participants to meet the objectives.

Do a reality check. Ask previous participants of the past face-to-face course to help you drill down to what they actually applied back on the job. Asking previous learners about the true value will help you identify your water content.

So what about all that champagne? Don’t throw it down the drain just yet.

Champagne content could be included elsewhere in a format that is more elective and self-directed. Think podcast, discussion boards, and internal blog posts. I realize some of your learners are hungry and want to absorb everything they can on a topic. Certainly serve that population, but separately and on demand. 

How do you decide what content is water and what content is champagne?  What is your approach for making those kinds of decisions?

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