PM Chronicles #4: Help, I have to Teach a Class, and What About ELearning?, by Fred Parker

In PM’s office. Present are:

  • PM – Performance Manager
  • LT – Learning and Talent Development Coordinator
  • TC – Training Coordinator
  • HG – Consultant (Hired Gun)

Emergency Survival Skills for Trainers

LT           PM has assigned me to teach a safety refresher class later this week.

HG         Any particular reason why you? You have been working here only a few weeks.

PM         That is why. LT is fairly new and I think this is a good way for LT to become very familiar with our basic safety procedures. This will also introduce LT to a lot of the employees for the first time.

HG         So, how can I help?

LT           Well, I have done classes before, but now, with all this talk of Mager and CRI I wonder whether I was doing it right, so to speak.

               Do you have some suggestions? Do I have to do all of that CRI stuff this week? I don’t think I am ready for that.

HG         Of course. A while back I wrote a short course called “Emergency Survival Skills for Trainers.”

               Here, let me give you a copy. I will also email it to you complete with the blank slides. I think it will help you get started. I look forward later to hear how it goes.

Note to the Reader: This course is available at

Learning / Training is a Contact Sport

PM         We have touched on the issue of elearning. I see all these articles online by people who seem convinced that elearning, especially now, is THE way to do training and learning.

               However, you have discouraged us from that avenue. What is the problem? These people all say that it is the easiest and quickest way to create training. They make it sound like magic.

HG         Two immediate comments. First, keep reading. Along with the promoters you will begin to find articles by people who point out major problems with elearning. This issue is way too complicated to be accepted lightly.

PM         OK. You said two comments.

HG         Yes. I have also said that there are very few immutable rules about training and learning. Some of those rules are found in Mager’s writings.

               Another hard and fast rule is this: Training or learning is a contact sport. Please keep that in mind. What it means is that humans learn mostly in contact with other humans.

TC          You have told us that the basics of training are simple to understand, just hard to do. Now this sounds really complicated.

HG         Yeah, it has gotten that way. Let’s back up a bit to review the skill development process.

               Several years ago I collaborated with a colleague named Michael Austin to help him write a book called Results Based Development. I think it is out of print, but you might find a copy online somewhere.

               In the book, among other things, is a nine-step process called The Preferred Order of Learning.    It is based on Keller’s ARCS model – Attention, Relevance, Confidence, and Satisfaction.

The Preferred Order of Learning

LT           Oh, Yeah! You made me go through that during my job interview.

HG         That’s true. You got it all right. Let’s review that process.

               It is about as good or bad as most of the other training processes, but it will work to illustrate what we are talking about.

               The first step is what we call the attention gainer. Everyone comes to training with lots of things on their mind that may distract. We need to get them focused on the learning at hand.

LT           That sounds like a good place to start.

HG         Once we have their attention, we must help them see the value of the training, the value to them. They have to know that it is relevant to them.

               Keep in mind that adults tend to learn only what is relevant to them

PM         OK, then what?

HG         The next three steps are right out of the CRI – performance-based training model.

               Make sure they get the information they need, demonstrate how to perform, and go through a skill check for them to demonstrate they can perform on their own.

TC          Isn’t that it. The whole CRI model.

HG         This is where development starts. It is the follow-through to training.

               In Mager’s workshops he followed this process and didn’t even know it.

LT           You mean there is more than just Mager?

HG         Yes. Steps six and seven are to allow practice until they are fully confident they can perform, and demonstrate how they can assess their own performance.

PM         Wait a minute. I thought step five was their demonstration of performance.

HG         Just getting through the first skill check may not be enough. I know most of the things I am good at required more practice. We want them to be so good at it that they can tell us when they make a mistake.

               Then, steps eight and nine are to skill check their self-assessment skills and allow further practice until they are fully confident they can self-assess.

               Here is a table showing the whole process.

RankActivity – Preferred Order for Learning
1Gain their attention so they will focus on the class.
2Help them see the value or relevance of what they will learn.
3Make sure they get the information they need.
4Demonstrate the skill(s).
5Skill check them on those skill(s).
6Allow further practice until they are fully confident they can do it right.
7Demonstrate how to self-assess.
8Skill check their ability to self-assess.
9Allow further practice until they are confident they can self-asses.

PM         I remember you explained this when we were getting ready for the interview, but I didn’t understand it then.

HG         This is probably a good place to break for now.

PM         I agree. But you still need to tell us what this has to do with elearning.

HG         I will. For now, just remember, training or learning is a contact sport.


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Thank you.

Fred Parker is the Director of Course Design and Development at Fred has half a century as a Performance Management Consultant designing, developing, and delivering performance-based training including all manner of technical training, individual development soft skills, and basic leadership. Clients include all sizes from a local sandwich shop to the military to fortune 500 multinationals. Now Fred is converting previous ILT courses to remote delivery courses available on our web site.

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