Enterprise Training: How to develop a curriculum that is effective and flexible

Developing wide scale training for large organizations, like a federal agency, can be daunting. When you’re dealing with vital education needs like IT security or life or death situations like how to respond to an active shooter, the resulting training must be successful, useful, and flexible to adapt to any audience.

We, at eMentum, leverage several different methodologies to accomplish enterprise training initiatives. Frequently, we rely on the Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, and Evaluation (ADDIE) approach as it is the most familiar and trusted instructional design method in the Federal Government. Training Industry defines the ADDIE model as “…an approach used by instructional designers and content developers to create instructional course materials. The model has been adopted as the standard method by many instructional designers because of its flexibility.”

The image below, based on Training Industry’s model, shows the cyclical nature of the ADDIE approach to developing training. This process is repeatable and provides a means to continually refresh training materials against requirements, objectives, and implementation.



During the Analysis phase, the need for training is identified. Instructional designers identify the specific training requirements and objectives, taking into consideration the skill set of the audience and the objectives. The requirements guide the direction of the training to ensure the training content and approach stays on track. The skill set of the audience tells the instructional designer the breadth and depth of the audience’s familiarity with the training subject matter. Collectively, these factors indicate if the training should be scaled to a broad, general audience or focused on very specific material that targets a specialized group.

In the Design phase, storyboards are created, the overall look and feel of the training materials is established, and the content is defined. This phase includes determining the best way the training will be delivered. It’s always beneficial to have multiple training tools, including videos, activities, real life scenarios, and group interaction, to keep participants engaged. Using different tools to reiterate training material also aids with retention.

In Development, the training materials from the design phase are developed. A pilot of the training is also conducted to “test” the program against the requirements and objectives. The pilot should include a small subset of the targeted audience as a dry run of the course. This helps the training team establish where the initial design works well and where there are gaps. It also helps the instructors polish their presentations.

During Implementation, the training is delivered to course participants according to the design approved earlier in the lifecycle. Sometimes, training support persons, in addition to the instructor, are involved to ensure the smooth flow of training materials from one topic to another, keep time, track questions, or other support functions.

Training delivery includes an evaluation by both the learners and the instructors for opportunities for improvement or corrective action. This gives the participants the opportunity to express where they found the training was successful and beneficial and where there is room for improvement. These evaluations are reviewed by the training team and requests for change are identified and worked to closure.

In the Evaluation phase, the outcomes of implementation are documented and reviewed, including the evaluation results. These feed into the analysis phase where recommended revisions are identified as new requirements for the analysis phase. We recommend a training review meeting after each class to discuss how we think the class consumed the training and the positives and negatives, such as whether there was a lot of class participation, if the attendees could easily answer recap questions on the material, or if they struggled with certain areas of the training. These observations allow us to consider where different approaches to the training might be used to address any issues, such as whether to include a video to reinforce the materials or a group activity to encourage class participation.


Reinforcing the Value of Training Evaluations

Student evaluations are critical to the continuing improvement of the training program and curriculum. By allowing the class participants to evaluate and provide input on both the instructors and the curriculum, we get their documented experience with the program and how well it was received. A real-life example was a participant who thought an instructor moved through the curriculum too quickly. This was noted, and the instructor now makes additional effort to frequently ask students if they are comprehending the materials as he goes along. We’ve also learned about situations where the participants did not feel the instructor had the necessary subject matter expertise. We wouldn’t have been aware of these issues if it weren’t for the student evaluations. Additionally, we have used praise on how one area of the training was conducted to improve other topic areas.

The evaluation phase can be adjusted to occur as frequently as needed. We conduct 360 reviews of training regularly, no less than annually. In this exercise, the training team walks through all the training materials, activities, and media to determine if any content needs to be brought current, revise material that has become stale, and incorporate technology or delivery changes into new training content.

Regardless of the source, we recommend that the tasks that come out of the evaluations be documented, with the decision on next steps, and that status be provided regularly until completed. This ensures that all suggested changes are addressed by the team, priorities can be assigned, and no change falls through the cracks. This ensures that the materials continue to meet requirements and objectives.


The Benefits of ADDIE

eMentum believes that training design is the key to successful training that is valuable and flexible, and ADDIE is one way to meet those objectives. The flexibility of the ADDIE approach allows instructional design to be based on this model without being limited or constrained by it. Because it’s a cyclical process, the approach allows for the constant evaluation of the training. If requirements change or the objectives aren’t being met, the process allows for adaptations to be made easily.


Have you ever developed and trained a large organization? What methods did you use? We’d love to hear from you!


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One thought on “Enterprise Training: How to develop a curriculum that is effective and flexible

  1. Workforce Development is increasingly important as clients need to ‘do more with less’ and groom their own employees for success in an increasingly complicated IT world. Excellent points to ponder. Well done! Carolyn

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