Magazine article Training & Development

Maintenance: The Sixth Step

Magazine article Training & Development

Maintenance: The Sixth Step

Article excerpt

Analyze, design, develop, implement, and evaluate! Those five steps are words most instructional designers and performance technologists live by. They are the core of instructional-systems design.

Perhaps we should add a sixth step to this group - maintenance.

The fifth step, evaluation, identifies ways to determine the continued effectiveness of a training program. The maintenance step covers different ground: It identifies the nuts-and-bolts tasks of keeping the training program alive and well. After we develop all this great stuff, who will maintain it? Who will make sure that it is updated and that it remains useful to customers?

Training that flies. Good instructional designers, whether consultants or in-house staff, aim to provide the finest performance-improvement advice and training materials. But what happens when the instructional designer has moved on to the next assignment? That is when the training program will fly - or flop.

If the designer added maintenance to the instructional-design mix, and if management heeded that advice, the training is likely to fly and to remain airborne for as long as it's needed. But if maintenance was never discussed, then problems are almost guaranteed.

The subject matter of a training program may quickly become outdated. If so, frustrated users will eventually abandon it and unofficially return to the "old way" of doing the job. The employees are no better off than they were before.

If you are the instructional designer, then your reputation is soiled - despite your high-quality training materials and your good intentions. Within the company, you may be forever linked with "that lousy training program that never went anywhere."

How do you avoid such a debacle?

You must begin to consider maintenance during the analysis stage. You must analyze not only the audience and other standard elements that may affect the learning process, but also the following three factors: accessibility, documentation, and the procedures for handling changes in training materials.

Accessibility. First, consider the accessibility of training resources. Try to address the following issues:

* Determine if the training materials will be accessible on a mainframe, through individual PCs, or on hard copy. Identify the users.

* Identify the accessibility needs of the users. For example, you may want to investigate the possibility of mainframe accessibility for remote locations or for multiple users.

* If the training is by computer, work with computer professionals to identify the capabilities of the system and to develop an easy-to-use program for accessing the training materials. …

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