Last time we talked about Preparing the Space and Equipment. I touched on how I prepare materials but thought I would go more in-depth with this post. When preparing materials for a training, I look at three things: preparing materials, organizing for distribution, and backup plans.
I like to have someone else look at the materials I am going to use before I copy them. This “someone” should be a person other than the one who helped you beta test your training. If they have seen your training already, they bring some expectations and prior knowledge that may prevent them from giving you an accurate picture of your materials.
The person you are looking for in this role may or may not have experience in your training but they should be looking at the completeness of the materials. Are all the images where they are said to be? Did you leave out a resource they need to complete the activities. Their fresh eyes can help you see what you left out and what is repetitive in the materials.
Basically, this is a book editor who is not looking at content as much as completeness. They may also have some suggestions about how to condense the printing to save paper. When we develop materials, we tend to have a vision of how they should be laid out and look. Someone new can help you get a better sense of too much or too little white space, too many or too few illustrations, and whether the examples support the learning.
After your materials have been reviewed then you are ready to copy them and move on to the organization phase.
Organizing for Distribution
Again, my OCD comes out but I like to organize materials in chunks so that I don’t hand them out all at once. If I control the flow of material to participants, I have an easier time getting them to focus on the page I want them to be on. The key to that becomes organizing materials for distribution in sets based upon what we are going to be doing right next.
- I have my materials stapled or pre-punched (if needed) so we don’t lose time on clerical tasks.
- I have sets clipped together so they will stay together until I am ready to hand them out.
- I may have them in different folders by day if that helps me to stay organized.
- I have been known to color code folders or sticky notes on materials by the day or time of time they will be used to help keep them organized.
- If I need/have a marked up copy for me to use for teaching, I always put that on the bottom of the pile to make sure I don’t accidentally hand out that copy.
- I put all the material in one place if I am transporting them. A box or expandable folder so I grab that on my way to the training and I know I have everything I need to help learners be successful without causing unneeded stress of confusion.
Fortunately, I have never gotten to an onsite training and not have learner materials ready to be used. But, JUST IN CASE, I always have a backup plan ready. Those work two ways for me – a carried back-up and a cloud back-up.
I always have a couple of copies of my materials with me on USB drives. Those drives are stored different places. One will be in my carry-on bag and the other will be in my suitcase. The chances of both of those copies being ruined are pretty slim. Also the chances of me losing both drives is very small. On one occasion when I knew I wasn’t going to be able to use a USB at the location, I burned all the files to a CD as my back-up.
The second back-up plan is for me to store a copy of all the materials in a cloud location. That location will vary depending on several factors, but they may include a blind (unlinked) directory on my website, a Dropbox folder, a OneDrive folder, or Google docs. Again, depending on the training/training objectives, I may or may not make those locations publicly accessible and share the links to the documents with training participants.
Why all the redundancy? I have been at training sites where, despite what I was told ahead of time, I couldn’t use my computer on their system nor could I use a USB drive to access my materials on their computer. The only way I was able to do the training was to access my materials from the cloud. In this case it wasn’t that my materials had gotten lost, it was that my point of contact wasn’t aware of security policies put in place by the IT department. Having multiple back-ups saved that day’s training otherwise I wouldn’t have had my PowerPoint or example files to work from.
I know you may think my preparations are excessive, but the less I worry about things going wrong, the better job I do with the training.
I know I didn’t list all the preparations trainers use so what techniques do you use to prepare materials for distribution?