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Creating a Successful Training and Development Team

by Cheryl Powell

Putting together a successful Training and Development Team for any type of training project is similar to cooking your favorite recipe. If you leave out or do not have enough of a specific ingredient, the dish is not a success.

Important Elements of Training and Development Teams

There are four key ingredients that you need on your team for a classroom or instructor-led training project:

  1. An instructional designer
  2. A Subject Matter Expert (SME)
  3. A graphics specialist
  4. A project manager

In contrast, there are six key ingredients that you need on your team for an online, self-paced eLearning project:

  1. An instructional designer
  2. A Subject Matter Expert (SME)
  3. A graphics specialist/li>
  4. An e-Learning developer
  5. A professional voice talent provider
  6. A project manager

The Roles of Training and Development Team Members

Let’s examine the role each of these team members play in either type of project:

Instructional designers are responsible for analyzing the training need, collecting and organizing the content, and defining the intended audience for the course. Content can be in the form of a pdf, Word doc, spreadsheet, software application, PowerPoint, or an audio or video file. They should be skilled in various instructional and adult learning methodologies, such as the Addie Model or Gagne’s Nine Events. They will create all of the learning documents for the course, such as the Design Document and Storyboard, which will include formal outlines and audio scripts (for online courses). Their number one goal should always be to ensure the learner is engaged throughout the course and retain the knowledge concepts presented to them.

Subject Matter Experts (aka SME) are experts in the course content. They can answer any questions about the subject matter, whether in writing or verbally. Many times, the instructional designer will interview a SME and have the recorded interview transcribed to utilize as content for the course.

Graphics specialists are there to match the perfect image to the text or content in the course, as well as create custom images, such as charts and diagrams, to better explain the concepts in the course. They should have specific skills in Photoshop and Illustrator, in order to present professional graphics with custom edges or designs to match your company’s template, branding guidelines and/or course theme.

eLearning developers are specifically for eLearning projects and should have the knowledge of various eLearning authoring tools (i.e. Adobe Captivate, Lectora or Articulate Storyline), as well as Learning Management Systems, in order to produce the course file in the format you require. They should have knowledge of SCORM and AICC, and Section 508 compliance guidelines and be able to accommodate your course needs, whether you need a closed captioned course for the hearing impaired or a certification course that is worth CPE (Continuing Professional Education) credits. Courses can be published in Flash, HTML5 for Apple products such as the iPad, and movie files for the web. Each authoring tool is similar as well as unique in its own way and the e-Learning developer should be skilled enough to know which tool to use for each course. Communication between the instructional designer and the developer is key, and all standards and guidelines for hardware and software specifications should be outlined in your project’s design document.

Professional voice talent providers are also specific to e-Learning projects. Online courses without audio are a thing of the past, and so are outrageous prices for voice talents. There are various sites you can visit online, such as Voice123.com, that allow you to post specifics about the voice you are looking for, provide a script for auditions, set your budget, and listen to auditions as they come in. The key is to be as specific as possible in the type of ‘read’ you are looking for, specifically the tone, pace, any accents required, and the time frame and file type for delivery. An example post might read: I need a young, Hispanic female with an accent, and kind of sassy, for a 30-second soft drink radio advertisement. Files must be delivered in 48 hours via Dropbox in mp3 format.

Project managers are critical to any project. They manage the resources and the timelines for the project, making sure that everything stays on track and within budget. Weekly status meetings are key to making the project a success and ensuring each team member is being held accountable for their tasks and deadlines. They are also responsible for ensuring the scope of the project and guidelines in the design document are being followed. They should be skilled in MS Project, or some other project software or online application, and MS Excel. Reports such as calendar timelines, cost reports, resource over-allocations, and Gantt charts should be delivered to and analyzed by top management weekly.

Once you have your team assembled, the project manager takes the lead, assigns the tasks, and sets up the phases of the project, with the first being the Design Document phase.

Whether you have the resources internally or utilize the services of a consultant-based placement firm, such as Writing Assistance,Inc., to find qualified training and development team members, as long as you have all of the ingredients that make a great training team, your project will be a success.

About the Author

Cheryl Powell is an experienced Instructional Design & eLearning Specialist. You can connect with Cheryl through Writing Assistance, Inc. at www.writingassist.com or by email through sales@writingassist.com.

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