The original manuscript for this section was prepared by Sherry London, Drexel University

8.1 Training Programs

Training is needed to show the potential users how to use the system. It is a necessary part of the installation process. There are three kinds of training needs that must be addressed: initial training of system users, turnover training, and reminder training for infrequent users.

8.1.1 Objectives

Objectives are the statement of what you are trying to accomplish. The behavior to be learned must be clearly stated, as must be the method of evaluating the learning. Objectives take the form "At the end of this ...., the learner will be able to ...., (qualifying conditions)." If you were showing a new user how to start an application program that you had created, a typical objective might be:

At the end of this session, the learner will be able to call up the XYZ application from the DOS prompt of the CRT within 3 minutes, after turning on the computer, and without referring to the user's manual.

Objectives that say that the user will be able to 'understand' are not true objectives because you cannot describe what the user must do to show understanding. It is hard to see someone "understand".

One of the first tasks that must be done when you are designing the training for your system is to develop your objectives. If you don't know what your outcomes should be, how will you know if you accomplished them?

8.1.2 Training As a "Bridge"

Training a user does not mean that they should be able to work with the system as efficiently as a person who has used it for a long period of time. The aim of training is to make certain that the user can operate the system to a minimum acceptable level. Training will reduce, not remove, the learning curve.

To say that training is a bridge means that it takes the user between the level of total novice and expert. It does not make experts of the user. Why not? The reason is primarily economic. It is simply too costly to provide the level of training that will enable the user to have complete mastery over the system.

What, then, should a good training program provide? If you have developed an application program that records sales and keeps a running inventory (for example), then your training program should help your user to get started. The user should know, when trained, how to:

  • Log onto the program
  • Enter data
  • Use the menus
  • Get reports
  • Look in the manual for more information.

Perhaps the most important thing that your training can teach is where to go for help. This is the one essential thing that the training must teach.

8.1.3 Training costs

There are real expenses associated with training, and they are not always obvious. The ones that immediately come to mind are those of the trainer's salary and the cost of the meeting room (if applicable). However, when people are being trained, they are not doing their primary jobs. Thus, there is both the cost of their time and the cost of the lost productivity in what they should have been doing.

Of course, there is also a cost involved in not training your users properly. If they don't know how to operate the system, then there is the cost of lost productivity as well. A good training program balances the costs of training vs. the cost of not training.

8.2 Classroom Training

Classroom training is the best known form of training. It occurs in a room filled with 2 or more students and a "live" instructor. It is probably the most cost-effective way of delivering training to a group of people at one time.

8.2.1 Target Audience

The group to be trained can include users, managers, or operations people. However, the tasks that are to be trained should be appropriate for the group in question. If clerical level users and managers are to be trained in the same group, you need to be very sure that the material presented is applicable to both groups. If the clerical people must learn how to do data entry, and the managerial people must learn how to interpret reports, then they should have separate training sessions. Do not try to accommodate everyone at once.

Classroom training is most suitable when a group of people with the same base knowledge need to receive the same training. This makes it very suitable for initial system training where no one is familiar with the system. It is consequently less useful if the system has already been installed and a new person is brought into the organization. In that circumstance, it could be very expensive to conduct a class of one.

8.2.2 Location

Training can be delivered at the user's site or at another location. If possible, it is better to remove the user from the moment-to-moment interruptions that occur at the work site. If you are training managers, this problem becomes most noticeable. It is almost impossible to get their attention when telephones are ringing and people are calling on them for help or problem solving. Managers almost always have to be removed from their normal work environment.

8.2.3 Preparation Time

It has been calculated that good classroom training takes about 6 hours of preparation time for every hour of classroom time. This includes planning what is to be trained, developing objectives, creating handouts, and creating visuals, if needed.

8.2.4 Things to Think About: Long Term Memory


The object of the training session is to put certain concepts into the long-term memory of the user. A training session that is too long may be counter- productive. Several short sessions seem to have better 'staying' power than one long one. Lecture /Practice

You need to decide how much of the session will be lecture and how much will be practice. When training for system usage, there should be as much practice as possible. Ideally, there should be one computer per trainee. If this is not possible, then everyone should have a chance to try their hand at it. Explanation

Think about how much explanation there should be. Will you give the users the 'rote' step-by-step rules for using the system, or will you explain to them what is happening and why. There is a trade off. The rote method works the fastest but it is also forgotten faster. If you are able to give reasons, that the user can remember, then it is more likely that the he will be able to solve problems as they appear.

8.3 On-The-Job Training

On the job training is the process of delivering training to a new employee through informal means. It delegates the training of this new person to the people who are already working at a given location. On-the-job training has a deservedly bad name in many companies where it is known as the "sink-or-swim" method of training.

It doesn't have to be that way. For companies, that use on-the-job training for new employees, a series of introductory exercises can be developed will give the newcomer the proper job experiences.

8.3.1 Target Audience

On-the-job training is not suitable for introducing a new application to everyone in the office. However, it is a viable way to meet the need for replacement training. It is also more suitable for clerical and operational positions than for management.

8.3.2 Preparation Time

There are two components to preparation time for on-the-job training: (1) time to develop the sequence of events and (2) the time needed by the person in the office who is going to be monitoring the on-the-job training.

8.3.3 Development

As in classroom training, there should be a clear idea of objectives. In this case, however, these objectives are given to the mentor (the person doing the monitoring of the on-the-job training). Along side, each objective should be a list of recommended training activities to meet that objective.

For example, in a "mailing list" training program one objective is to be able to produce a mailing list. The component skills are:

  • To be able to turn on the computer
  • To be able to call up the application
  • To be able to put the proper forms in the printer
  • To be able to turn on the printer
  • To be able to select the 'produce mail list' option
  • To be able to specify the target mail list criteria

A sample on-the-job training exercise for putting in the proper forms would be: (1) instruction on where the label forms are stored, (2) a demonstration, and then (3) practice of actually putting them into the printer.

Even though you will not be delivering this training yourself, it is a necessary part of the installation process to consider the various ways of ensuring competent "turnover" training.

8.4 Individualized Instruction

Individualized instruction is training that is delivered without the intervention of a live instructor. It is also called "self-paced" instruction. It allows the learner to proceed at his/her own pace and provides constant feedback on performance.

8.4.1 Forms of Individualized Instruction

Individualized instruction can be delivered via print media, video, audiotape, or computer. The most successful forms of individualized instruction are interactive. This means that the user must make responses to the material being learned and must do more than just read it and turn pages. For this reason, only print media and computer will be discussed below. We are, however, on the threshold of the interactive videodisk, and this will undoubtedly bring many changes to the world of individualized instruction.

Individualized instruction is predicated on the belief that each person learns differently but that dividing the tasks into small steps and logical sequence will help everyone to learn. The other main concept is reinforcement. People learn best when they are given praise for accomplishments and are not denigrated when they do not grasp a concept. These are the essential concepts behind programmed instruction, a technique suitable to both print and computer.

8.4.2 Programmed Learning Frames


"Frame" is the name given to the presentation of one small component of knowledge. As was said above, the basic theory of programmed instruction states that each task to be learned can be broken down into many tiny steps. Within each frame, there are generally three parts:

  • A short explanation
  • A question or request for response
  • Feedback on the answer and - possibly more instruction

To teach the task "Learn to select mailing list criteria", the frame might present a picture of the menu screen and point out the option to select to "begin to choose criteria". It would next contain the picture of the screen again (this time without the correct choice highlighted) and ask the learner to point out the correct response. The concluding portion of the frame would confirm the correct response or re-teach the material if an incorrect response was selected.

The next frame might go on to list the options for selecting criteria (ex: to pull a list of only people in the Philadelphia area). It would continue to teach in the present-test-respond format described above. Branching

The process described above is linear: everyone followed through the same sequence of frames. It is possible to have an alternate scenario for individualized training. Since people learn at different rates and bring to a training situation a variety of prerequisite skills, training can be written to branch. This means that a fast student can travel through more quickly though the material than the student who seems to require more help. If a correct answer is given, the student goes on to the next topic. If an incorrect answer is given, the student is branched (given a detour) to a remedial section where the material is presented in a different way. It is also possible to branch for enrichment by including material that has more depth.

The method of delivery (print or computer) can play a large role in how much branching can actually be accomplished. Print Production Methods Upside Down Answers


One of the simplest print formats is to present the concept, ask a question, and give the answer upside down on the page. The feedback section then just explains the range of possible errors and justifies the correct choice. There is generally no branching in this format. 'Hidden' or 'Embedded' Answers

This is basically the same as the technique above but it requires a decoder card (usually a red plastic transparent strip). The strip is used to see the correct answer that was hidden in the margin of the book. This method is designed to be a little more sophisticated than the upside down answers. Fractured Text

This is the method that provides for branching within a book. It generally presents multiple choice questions and instructs the learner to turn to a specific page based on the answer selected. On that page, feedback is given and the lesson continues. It is possible to take totally different paths through the material using this technique.

8.4.3 Computer Aided Instruction

All of the programmed instruction concepts and print methodology can be applied to computer based or Computer Aided Instruction (CAI). CAI has the additional ability to do branching in a much more natural fashion than flipping madly through a book.

There are a variety of software products on the market that allow an author (the term given to someone who writes a CAI program) to produce training. PILOT is the best known of the microcomputer-based products. An authoring system usually requires you write out the dialogue that you wish to present to the learner. It then asks for the test question. You must specify one correct answer and several incorrect answers. You are then asked to write a response to each answer (correct and incorrect) and specify a branch-to location.

Depending upon the software selected, you will be able to ask multiple choice, true/false, or short answer questions. Some of the systems allow you to specify rules for how closely the student's response must match yours. Some of the systems even are capable of recognizing limited misspellings.

8.4.4 Target Audience

CAI is suitable for both introductory and repeat training. It can be developed as a separate process or as an integrated help system within your application. It should be more than an automated page-turner, however.

Programmed instruction in print is more suitable for repeat training than for introductory training. However, when dealing with a computer application, it is more appropriate to deliver the training on-line than in print if the option exists. In either case, individualized instruction can be used by anyone at any level but in practice, few managers will take the time to go through a training program on their own.

8.4.5 Preparation Time

Individualized instruction is very costly to develop. It may take twenty hours to prepare one hour of print instruction, and it has been known to take novice authors 100 hours to prepare 1 hour of CAI. However, if a large number of people are going to be using the system and they are in scattered geographically, or if turnover is high, CAI can be very cost effective. The development costs are one-time only and additional training is essentially material-cost free.

8.5 Simulation

Simulation is the creation of an environment on a computer that can be manipulated without harm to the real world or to the learner. Pilot training is one of the most common forms of simulation. The computer looks like the flight controls and reacts by providing feedback to the student pilot's actions. However, if the new pilot crashes, neither lives nor equipment is lost.

If the system that you are installing is sensitive to bad data or to improper handling, then a training system that includes simulation would be desirable. The simulator gives the user practice without destruction. The easiest method of doing this is to create another copy of the application in a different directory. There, the new user can "play" until they are sure that the system has been mastered.

8.5.1 Target Audience

Simulation is suitable for any level audience and for both introductory and turnover training. It also provides a way for an infrequent user to be certain that he or she remembers how to use the system.

8.5.2 Preparation Time

There is very little preparation time needed to actually duplicate the application. However, some effort is required to provide practice data and results. In addition, there must be a tutorial manual, classroom training, on the job training exercises, or CAI to go with it.

8.6 LESSON Plans

Lesson plans are used for all forms of training. They should be prepared for all training sessions. These plans should reflect the activities including lectures, demonstrations and exercises that will be handled as a class. If a training program is included with the system, lesson plans should be also included.

Include in the lesson plans the date and the version of the system that the training is intended for.

8.6.1 Objectives

The lesson plan should be developed from the list of objectives. These objectives contain the 'end' result of what the training is supposed to achieve.

For example, a simple set of objectives for a small mailing list system might be:

  • The user should be able to turn on the machine;
  • The user should be able to call up the program.
  • The user should be able to enter data
  • The user should be able to produce mailing lists
8.6.2 Tasks

Necessary student tasks are listed against each of the objectives. Understandings, Skills, or Attitudes (USA) that must be learned in order to meet the objectives. This list must then be evaluated to establish a natural order. Some tasks are likely to be prerequisite to others. If one were trying to teach the user to turn on the computer, some needed skills might be:

To locate the on/off switch on the CPU

To locate the on/off switch on the monitor-

The assumption would be made that the user already knows what a computer looks like and knows how to flip a switch. This assumption could not be made if the target audience is a group of two-year-olds!

8.6.3 Class Outline

Tasks must be checked for overlap. Are any of these tasks used more than one time? The list must be consolidated and then put into a tentative order. The list should be analyzed to see if any task is prerequisite to another. From this ordered list, a preliminary outline of training can be made.

8.6.4 Method of Instruction

The methods of teaching should be added to the outline. How can the skill of turning on and off the computer be taught? One way might be a demonstration by the instructor. Another method might be for the instructor to show the approach by draw a diagram of the computer that locates the on/off switch. This is equivalent to a lecture. ....

A third way might be to give each user the practice or exercise of turning the computer on or off. If the skill being taught warrants it, there is nothing wrong with using all three of the above methods.

Once the methodology has been worked out, the visuals or supporting materials must be identified and then developed. These visuals should be easy to read and neatly done.

8.6.5 Visuals & Student Notes

Visuals and handouts (student notes) should be prepared using professional standards. Copyrights for these documents may be obtained. The conditions and constraints are usually applied for training materials as for the system. Copyrights are usually secured for training materials of copyrighted programs. Ownership of the copyright of training would be negotiated with for the system.

8.6.6 Instructor Notes

Outlines of instructor notes are often included with the lesson plans. However, detailed notes are not usually required.

8.6.7 Commercial Computer Programs

Commercial programs used in the preparation of the documentation do not have to be cited. However, packages used in the lessons should be properly identified, including version or release date.

8.6.8 Proprietary Computer Programs

Proprietary programs used in the training are integral to the process and should be included. Here again, these programs may be copyrighted. Full documentation should be included with all programs under contract.