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Creating Dynamic In-house Training

Mar 21, 2013

by FRANK SPRANZA
President, Spranza, LLC

For most airport and airline employees being told to attend a "training Day", whether initial or mandatory, re-training is accepted and feared as much as a trip to the Dentist or an annual colonoscopy. The thought of an instructor muddling through and too often  droning on with what appears to be an endless stream of PowerPoint's (often recreated from a manual text and appearing as a cascade of book like pages in a seemingly never ending barrage of detailed information.  The constant threat -"there will be an exam at the end of this module" looms like the sword of Damocles over each student's head.

What only a savvy few realize is that training need not be the fiendish nightmare described above. A little forethought and proper preparation, along with simple techniques for integrating basic technology into the classroom can make any topic a pleasurable, interactive learning experience.

Step 1: Do your homework

Regardless of the topic area, policy or procedure to be taught, a good instructor will spend time with the respective manual, ops procedure and any relevant NOTAMS which might affect the performance of the student with regard to the lesson.

Begin by completing a Lesson Description (shown below).  Decide on the content and scope of the training module, its title, target employee group, and "bottom line" objectives.  Complete one Lesson Description for each course or sub course to be taught.

Research is essential.  Too often instructors take for granted their own experience with a particular topic and, despite best intentions, forget that not all of their students share the same experiences with a task or topic.

Review current manuals, policies and procedures and ensure to integrate any recent changes into older or existing lesson materials.

Think sequentially.  Students will learn quicker and retain more of material, concepts and tasks are built one upon the other as opposed to a random sequencing of thoughts.

 

Particularly if a lesson is to be re-used with varying groups of students, it is always a good idea to create a Lesson Development Plan Sheet.  This document (shown below) forces the instructor to make critical decisions regarding various handouts, source references and module duration.  The Lesson Development Plan document can be filled out as the lesson planning evolves or at the end of the creative process.

 

Another key tool in training module development - essential to creating an environment conducive to student learning is the Lesson Development Checklist shown on the right.  The checklist encompasses critical areas involved in both the physical presentation environment of the training and the methodology to be used both to evaluate student knowledge and provide instructor feedback.

When used in conjunction with an appropriate Curriculum Map 1, instructors can ensure that a lesson will contain relevant regulatory materials and meet Industry Standard objectives within the context of each unique organizational setting.

Step 2: Develop interactive learning situations

Everyone, at some point in their lives have suffered long, tedious and all too often pointless lectures from parents, teachers, preachers and even "close" friends.  Unfortunately, despite their best intentions and dauntless efforts odds are we came away actually "learning" very little from the experience.

As learning is a personal experience - while some do very well from text, others learn better from visual aids, audio discussions and hands-on experience.  When preparing a lesson, good instructors recognize the various ways in which students learn, and integrate a number of methodologies to present or reinforce the points at hand.

The process begins with an examination of ‘what" is to be taught.  Then ask, how can this concept, policy or procedure be presented in an interactive format with the students - whether individually or preferably in small groups.  Develop group tasks which translate the "theory" of a point into a form of physical action.  These "group instruments" can then be examined by the class as a whole, discussed and the point to be made reinforced through a variety of learning channels.  The development worksheet below has been designed to assist instructional staff in selecting the proper visual aids for a given lesson.

Step 3: Be creative in your use of technology

In today's tech savvy world most employees use their smart phones for texting, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and more.  In order to make learning a more dynamic and certainly memorable experience, explore ways of integrating smart phones, mobile web sites and apps into the training lesson.  If your organization has a proprietary server, utilize the IT department to install a mobile website, Moodle LMS and short modules on the server for student use.  Many airports today regularly use Facebook and Twitter to interact with travelers and customers.  Take advantage of the media and create small group activities which require "real time" interaction - preferably from field locations while each group undertakes a task or exercise related to the instructional material at hand.   Integrating checklists, group task instructions and even student quizzes or examinations into a class can aid in both student material retention as well as vastly increasing the level of enthusiasm and participation among class members.

Step 4: Develop meaningful evaluation tools

As a final step in lesson module development, instructors need to create valid evaluation tools both to assess student learning and the integrity of the program itself.

 

Begin with a Module Evaluation (as shown on the left).  The Module Evaluation assist lesson developers in ensuring that both local policy and procedures as well as Industry Standard goals and objectives for the training topic are incorporated into the presentation phase.

The chart illustrates key concepts of Method, Instrument selected to convey the knowledge, any comments or notes to be made and shared with other instructional staff, auditors and evaluators.

The sample includes various evaluative tools, and should be taken as a guide.  Each organization is unique in culture, budget, expertise and staff.  Each organization requires a unique approach to instruction and employee learning

Conclusion

As more and more aviation organizations face budget cuts and growing administrative constraints, turning to in-house training has grown in popularity.  Whether from a desire to keep costs low, or a need for individual lesson customization, trainers and administrators must carefully choose training personnel, properly migrate concepts from the world of education, aviation and regulatory compliance into comprehensive, interesting and validated learning experiences for line and staff personnel alike.

Contact the Author:  email: director@spranza.com, phone: 772.237.0166

 

NOTES: Sample Curriculum map blank document

 

 

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