Systematic Approach to Training Using AcroTrain
By Fred L. Plata
The systematic approach to training includes analysis, design, development, implementation, and evaluation stages. With AcroTrain you develop and edit at four separate levels in the curriculum development process (course, module, topic, and exercise & assessments). This paper will describe one effective approach to systematically authoring CBT courseware with AcroTrain.
Keep the Development Process the Same and Simple
Identify a training need, select a training approach (i.e. CBT or Instructor-led), and do the task analysis the same way that you do for any other curriculum development project. The results of your training needs analysis will tell you if you need training, and what form of training you need. The task analysis determines what tasks the learner has to master to become competent in the job, process, or duty. State the tasks in measurable terms (as objectives) then group them, if necessary, according to the duty or process that they most closely relate to (i.e. the tasks in each group will be closely related to the duty or process).
Each task becomes a topic for your course. A group of related topics becomes a module. Grouping the tasks will not be necessary for programs that do not have more than one module. For example, if you were to construct a course for ‘Tire Repair’ only, then perhaps one module would be enough and all tasks would then be grouped together. This is because ‘Tire Repair’ is only one duty or process in the overall job of Mechanic; therefore, requiring only one module.
After drafting one or more objectives per task and one terminal performance objective per module, and a blank PowerPoint (and optional html help) file for each topic, you are ready to create your course structure within AcroEdit. It is recommended that you give these files the same name as the topic that they are associated with (i.e. if the topic name is ‘Cheese,’ then the files should be named ‘Cheese.ppt’ & ‘Cheese.html). Note that you do not need any content developed; in fact, it is not the time to develop content, you are designing the course structure.
Go into AcroEdit and add a new course, the modules, and topics for the new course. All settings can be modified later so if you are not sure about any setting, accept the default selections then change it later. You already have the course objectives drafted, so enter those at the module and topic levels (remember that the module objective is the terminal performance objective and the task objectives are the enabling objectives). For example, the terminal performance for a module may call for application of knowledge for the ‘Tire Repair’ duty (the module), and the enabling objective may only call for pumping the tire up to correct pressure (the topic). At the topic level select the PowerPoint and Html files for your topics. Again, you do not have to have content in the presentation or help files at this point, but you should create the files for each topic. You may be creating CBT from an existing instructor-led course; in which case you should rename the files accordingly.
Before developing content, develop the formative and summative exercises/questions so that you can measure when the learners have met the objectives. These two types of exercises/questions serve a completely different purpose but are based on the same objectives. The formative exercises check learner progress and diagnose learner difficulties while the summative items determine learner mastery of the course subject matter. For each task, develop formative and summative items for the course. Try to produce at least two of each type. Develop your exercise/question items with AcroEdit. Prepare one or more exams with AcroAdmin.
So far, you know where you want to take the learners and how to tell when they get there. Now you need to decide what information and examples, or perhaps, additional exercises that will be needed to help the learner master the course objectives. This is the course content and needs to be put in the topic PowerPoint file that you already created. Finish all of the topic presentation files for the entire course. Once the presentation files are complete go through and add the help information to the html files that were previously created. Use instructor notes, more examples, lessons learned, or any other information or guidance associated with the topic. Once the content and help files are complete and you verify that the program and course settings are correct, you are ready to administer the courseware to its target population.
Obviously, there are several ways to effectively implement CBT using AcroTrain. The process outlined above is just one way that we have found to be both productive and effective. As you become more familiar with this authoring environment, you will find what works best for you. One approach is to develop and format all material first, then plug it into AcroTrain. Whatever approach you eventually chose, it will be much easier than learning a new programming language and a new authoring tool before you begin.
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