A walkthrough of developing a hybrid course for training 40 staff members on how to use a new financial aid management system using the ADDIE model.
To prepare for creating this course I began with the Analysis phase. I thought of my audience, which were 40 staff members with varying comfort with change and new technology. I also considered which approaches would work best for the group.
For example, I had to consider whether in-person, online, or a hybrid training approach would be best. One option that was suggested was to use Zoom to present training while each staff sat at their desk and I would record the sessions, but many staff felt this would not work well due to interruptions at their desks. Some were uncomfortable with Zoom as they had not used it previously.
Through interviewing staff I found most wanted to leave their desk for training and have a portion in-person, but liked the idea of recording sessions and online supplemental materials. They also voiced that they wanted as much hands-on experience as possible with the new software.
During this time I also had to consider many technical challenges. Providing hands-on experience meant that I needed a space where all staff could have the new software installed, each would need a user id and access, and I would need access to a stable test environment where they could complete tasks without changing actual student information.
After the analysis phase, I had the information needed to begin the design process.
Based on interviews the best approach appeared to be a hybrid training course. We would have in-person training sessions over the course of 6 weeks. Each week would be an introduction to a new area of the system.
Each session would consist of a brief lecture introducing the topic for the week, the opportunity for staff to follow along on their computer in the computer lab during the presentation, a final hands-on mission to reinforce understanding of content, and several resources to provide feedback.
I served as the training lead for the project attending meetings with developers, testers, functional and other technical staff to learn about the functions of the new system. I consulted with subject matter experts to ensure accuracy of the content.
Once I had the plan in place I began development. I divided the content into 6 segments that would be introduced each week.
I created the outline for the lecture piece. I used powerpoint to organize the content and to present. A portion of the staff had indicated that although the material was going to be online (D2L - Learning Mangement System) they still liked the ability to print out the slides before the training session and take notes.
After the powerpoint was complete I uploaded the content to D2L. I created an award at the end of each segment to encourage staff and motivate them to continue learning.
For the hands-on missions I thought of different tasks that they would complete in real life situations once the new system was in place. I worked with IT staff to determine which test environment would be stable for hands-on activities during training sessions.
Using the list of hands-on tasks the next step was to find students in particular scenarios in the test environment. I wrote SQL queries to locate students in these test situations. Since the test environment is always changing I knew that if I ran the queries weeks in advance I could have an issue during actual training where the student's scenario may have changed and staff wouldn't be able to follow along. I created folders on a shared project planning drive for each week with the SQL queries ready to execute a day before each training.
I labeled each segment's hands-on activity as their mission for the week. I created word documents with their missions, executed the query to find students that met the scenario in the test environment, and used mail merge to print 40 missions with test student specific information prior to each training. The planning ahead of time made it very quick to produce the materials needed for the activities each week.
For example, I wanted to assist staff in locating FAFSA information in the new system. The query would locate an admitted student in the test environment that had a FAFSA on file. On the mission I might ask staff to locate the student's (providing the test student id) expected family contribution. I would provide the answer printed on the bottom of the mission sheet (word document) so they could check their work once they located the information in the system.
With the assistance of the financial aid management team we selected one staff member from each unit to attend training sessions in advance. This provided multiple benefits including testing the materials and the ability for those who had already gone through training to assist with the larger group training sessions. They provided excellent feedback regarding the areas that needed improvement.
Each week I scheduled at least one of these staff members to attend the training sessions to assist with questions or technical issues that may arise during training.
Before each training I would inform staff of their tools for feedback. In the D2L course I created a link to a Google form where they could submit questions and I would answer them either on the spot (I would have my laptop open during the course to monitor questions) or post-training. Post-training I would review each question, respond to that person, and then determine if the feedback/question should be included in a FAQ website, shared during the next training session, and/or email to staff.
I also added a Trainer Evaluation that staff could complete at the end of each session. In addition a Google Doc was created to provide staff the option to share what they were excited about and what they were not happy about with the new financial aid management system.
The format of training received very positive feedback both formatively and summatively. Staff were very engaged during training. There was a high level of participation during lessons. Having the extra staff who had already attended training was vital for success. There were several staff members that had technical issues or questions and the staff with experience were able to assist while allowing the larger group to continue.
Some staff were resistant to using D2L. They preferred to print the powerpoints. The missions went wonderfully. They had their mission to accomplish and enjoyed the real world activities.
We had back-up strategies in place in case the test system was down during our session or if staff forgot their password from week to week (which was a very common occurrence). I also planned make-up sessions for each segment in the case that staff missed a session. Some staff used the make-up sessions for one-on-one questions and training, which was encouraged.