I have recently completed my workbook project. I started this project months ago and the intention was to provide new trainers with what I’ve termed connective knowledge in a subject that they are new to. A trainer that is new to the content needs to have enough knowledge to connect the dots between different elements of the content to not only be confident with the material but to also provide answers to questions that may not be obvious based exclusively on the course material.
I was asked (in February) to revamp a course with fresh eyes. I included a story element to allow the learners to have a visual queue to go with the content. It worked really well but this only helped the learners and we still had to overcome the challenge of new trainers learning the course and being able to go off-script if they needed to. A couple colleagues and I did a bit of brainstorming and came up with a brief list of things we thought the new trainer workbook should include and then I trudged along and put together what I thought would work.
I created the layout of the page to fit our team monitors allowing readers to view a full page at glance. I chose to make it an ebook with fillable fields as our company is trying to be as
paper-free as possible. Plus this circumvented page size constraints or black and white printing. Pages are split into three columns. The middle column, about 40% of the page, has the core content, the main text. The left column, 30%-ish, had a large section for including whatever notes they want. It could be links to sites where they found good info or general notes about the content. The right column had info bubbles, quotes, and other tid-bits. There is a lot of white space which guides the learners eye and makes a nice clean appearance.
While I was the new trainer learning the content of this class I had to seek answers from many sources, both internal and external. It was valuable to find the answers myself but it was frustrating to continually find dead ends and have very few bread crumbs to lead me. This workbook has links to takes that wasted time out of the equation but don’t hand feed answers.
Each section has objective for the trainer to guide them through plus the objectives for the related section of the class. I haven’t decided if I like this yet. It was supposed to proved more context to the trainer but I’ve found it confusing. Objectives are reviewed at the end of each section.
Since the learning trainer is finding their own answers there are a lot of open boxes for them to record their ‘DIY Definitions’ or similar items that they need to populate for a complete book. This extends beyond a closed ended ‘can you do this?’ type question and in it’s place you have a ‘show me what you’ve learned’ question.
At the end of each section, after the objectives review, there is a Checkpoint. This section has two or three open ended questions about the content. Once the trainer completes these questions they sit down with a SME and discuss the answers. This facilitates several official conversations that the new trainer and SME can have to ensure they are on the right path and have demonstrated their new knowledge. They have confidence going into the class and management has confidence in their abilities.
THE NITTY GRITTY (Details)
I created the living document in publisher. This allowed me to change the page sizes and customize the heck out of it. I created each section as it’s own file, assuming (like and idiot) that I would be able to simply merge the files into a master. Not the case. I had to select all, copy, change file, paste…for 53 pages.
To create an easily fillable document I used Adobe Writer (I think) to enter fields. Although this wasn’t difficult it was time consuming. This also had a negative impact on the overall esthetic. If the document, now a pdf, is opened and the ‘Highlight Fields’ option is selected there are blue blocks all over the fricken place. Bummed me out. I haven’t figured a way around that yet, except clicking the ‘Highlight Fields’ button to turn that feature off. It would be idea if the learner didn’t need to do that. This has been a first effort and it has yielded a lot of value. I’m looking forward to a second iteration with a number of improvements. As I hear or come up with better ideas, I’ll keep you informed!