Recycling Old Bad Content, Creates a Bad New Course

Don’t get trapped into thinking you have to recycle a training course to save money to quickly get a course out the door!

Recently on a pre-consulting interview, we met with a training manager, who had no idea of how to create a training course and who had attempted to save development-to-classroom time by recycling an old course. His efforts turned out to be a both a disaster, time-waster, and ultimately negatively affected the classroom learners with inferior classroom training.

Since this course was a safety orientation teaching people how to be safe around workplace heavy equipment, this training could potentially mean life or death. This course was important to the company’s overall to reduce potential liability in the field and by failing to deliver the correct information could mean the company was open for a potential lawsuit is an incident occurred.

Here’s the details. An old mandatory introductory new employee safety training course was created in PowerPoint, but it was not created in a template. Upon review, we observed there was no consistency in the fonts, use of colors, screen placement of text or overall instructional coherence.

At each forward click to advance to the next screen, the text was not aligned and would cause a distraction to the learner as the words on the screen literally jumped from one location to another. This was extremely distracting from the training message. We also observed that the pictures were not always relevant to the training message. The presentation did not contain speaker notes, so a new instructor would just have to guess what was expected to be taught. This meant there was no consistency or standardization in training from class to the next.

Rework One: A class was scheduled for the next week, so the timeline was tight. The training manager decided that the first round of instructions to the training developer were to “pretty it up” and place it into a new corporate template but nothing else.

As the developer took time to organize the content (text, graphics) on the screen, it became apparent this was a presentation was not instructional and it was a just another total mess. The developer felt sorry for the people who had to sit through this training session and then be expected to be tested on the information.

As the training developer progressed through the rework he noticed and commented to the training manager these comments:

  • No stated objectives at the beginning
  • No instructional sequencing of information into a logical sequence
  • Excessive amounts of text on the screen or just a picture
  • Unnecessary repetition of content
  • Lack of overall course content flow
  • No stated summary at the end

Did this really make the course better? No, it was still the same old bad information with just a new facade. The training manager reviewed and approved the prettied up version of the course to be delivered the next week.

However after attending the class, he realized the course was not what he expected or wanted. To his dismay the new pretty course was still not meeting overall training needs and he had just wasted one week on making it pretty. He went back to the training developer for round two of revisions.

This was a waste of time and actually put the company employees in a potential liability position with poor training delivered.

Rework Two: The next week he asked the training developer to add some objectives and make it more instructional, but not change the overall flow of the content. The training developer suggested that a total re-work made sense. The training manager would have nothing of it and said they did not have time to create a new course.

So the training developer added course objectives knowing that there was not the proper content to deliver in this course. The developer added some new activities but again, they were just plopped in to meet the training manager’s latest update whim. The training manager reviewed it, said it meet his expectations and the new version of the course was ready for the upcoming week’s classroom.

After the course was delivered, the training manager determined it was still not meeting the expectations. He got a little hot when the training developer suggested starting from scratch and building a totally new course that was instructional. In about a week the training manager decided to hold a meeting and invite the trainer who delivered the course, the training developer and a senior VP.

In anticipation of the meeting, the trainer had taken time to construct a new course outline that met the industry standards, included all of the relevant content and totally reorganized the information into a sequence. He came to the meeting prepared to present this new course.

The training manager and the VP had obviously gotten together previously and decided to re-work the old course content into a new sequence. When the trainer offered to review the new course, they cut him short telling him that they didn’t have time to create a course from scratch and they had a new course outline. Neither the trainer or the training developer felt the rework would accomplish the overall training objectives, but their comments were shot down.

When the VP added a new Observation section to the training, the trainer noted that new employees were being asked to observe equipment placement on items they did not even know the names. Since observation is a higher order thinking skill, it should have been placed in the middle or end of the course, when learners has a sense of contextual reference to the working environment.

Stop the madness! When you need to provide training, instead of wasting time on an old training that did not meet company objectives, stop and take time to re-think and do-over the training program from objectives to final quiz. It will actually save time and provide the standardized and professional training program your learners need and will meet your company goals.