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Jon Kennard


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Free resource: Course design template


A course design template based on questions from Susan's Toohey's book Designing Courses for Higher Education. Many thanks to James McLuckie of eden tree for sharing with the community.


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4 Responses

  1. Course design template

    Thank you James for sharing your document, and the comments behind it which i also found both interesting and insightful.As a means of generating some valuable discussion on this subject, I would like to suggest a further way of approaching design that I have found very useful – not only in terms of designing individual programmes but also in terms of articulating an overall strategy:

    I find that in particular it overcomes the age old problem for learning consultants of ‘we want this course please’, which is quickly followed (post course) by ‘well the course must have been rubbish’ when no discernible results are seen amongst the delegates.

    To illustrate the point lets say you have been invited in to design a ‘sales skills’ course.

    1. Start with the goal and not the need.

    Ask the customer what the overall aim/vision/objective is for their part of the business. Ask them at this point to disassociate themselves from the original commision of ‘sales skills’. So in our example, the goal might be ‘increased profits’, or ‘reduced losses’ or ‘to develop as market leader’

    2. Identify the key results that will need to be seen if the goal is to be achieved

    This may be expressed in terms of ‘from-to’ or simply as measures of effectiveness. Either way, there must be a clear relationship with (1). If we do this, we will achieve our goal. So in our example this might include things like ‘increase sales’, ‘identify new customers’, ‘improve customer retention rates’, or many other measures could be identified. Put them in priority order.

    3. What will people need to be able to do in order to achieve these results?

    What will they need to be better at? What differences will need to be seen in their knowledge, skills or behaviour? You want to be hearing things like ‘if we could better know what our customers want’ or ‘we know why they are leaving, we just dont seem to be able to stop them’. Work down the priorities from (2) and this way you will identify the key changes that need to be seen.

    4. Identify the key learning needs from item (3)

    It is amazing how often the REAL learning needs turn out to be different from those that the customer initially perceived. In this case, it may be much more about relationship building skills, or understanding the market environment or even having a better defined strategy that would make the difference in achieving the goal rather than a simple sales skills programme.

    Finish off by asking the question (as if it was a story) ‘so if we developed your people to be able to manage their relationships better, they’d have a clearer understanding of their customers’ needs? In turn this will improve the number of cross sales we could make, or ensure that they stay more loyal to us, and we will see improved sales figures, or retention rates, and thus help ensure profitablility – is that right Mr Customer?’

    Of course the reality is a lot more complex than this, but the simple point illustrates the overall idea. At the very least you will make sure that you have the right components in your ‘sales skills’ course.

    Learning design from back to front!

    Happy to receive views, comments and ideas

    Eric Linin

    Managing Director – 4Sight Learning and Development Ltd ( )

    07785 332249

  2. Thank You

     Hi Eric. Thanks for the kind comments about the template. I enjoyed reading your post too. It struck me when reading about your approach to learning design (your "back to front" method) that  you would also produce a handy set of evaluation metrics, which is always a good thing. 

    It would be good to hear others’ approaches to course/learning design. 

  3. Back to Front Design

    Spot on James! You can actually measure that the customer wants to know – which is always a good thing – provided of course you can get at the information (which is not always as easy as it sounds). All too often we measure what ‘can’ be measured rather than what ‘should’ be measured. But at least if we know what the key things are that will make a difference, we can at least start looking in the right place.

  4. training design template

    This is the wonderful template well design to guide the process. Bravo to the contributor

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Jon Kennard

Freelance writer

Read more from Jon Kennard

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