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IT Training: Course Development

Training and Testing Specialists within the Division of Information Technology (DoIT) are available to consult with project managers and coordinators on specific training requirements for IT service launches and software upgrades.

This is a partnership with subject-matter experts and management staff in the unit requesting a custom course. DoIT Specialists will conduct a training needs analysis that includes discussions about strategic alignment, goals and objectives, and long-term business outcomes that will be improved as a direct result of the training effort.

Even after the training has been delivered and the level of knowledge transfer has been assessed, the requesting unit will still wish to conduct post-training checkups and ensure that any online training modules and documentation are continuously updated and improved.


1. Needs Analysis

Consulting begins with a training needs analysis where the DoIT specialist interviews subject-matter experts and project managers in a number of areas. These are some typical questions:

Organizational Needs

  1. What current organizational needs or strategies are being affected or perhaps caused by the assumed problem that will be solved by training?
  2. Is there anything in the external environment related to this problem? Examples might be competition from other areas, budgets and funding, government regulations, etc.
  3. What other data that is currently being collected might provide information about this organizational need?
  4. What changes in these data should the training plan seek to achieve? In other words, what measures will indicate the success of the training plan?
  5. What organizational strategies will be supported with this training initiative?

Performance Needs

  1. What results should employees be achieving and what is their current level of achievement?
  2. What should people be doing differently? What should they stop, start or keep doing?
  3. What does “perfect” performance look like? What does current performance look like?
  4. Is anyone performing these skills correctly now? How many people are doing it correctly versus how many are not?
  5. What is the cost to the organization of doing this incorrectly?
  6. Is this problem important enough to the organization to do something about it?
  7. What else might be getting in the way of employees performing as they should, other than lack of skills and knowledge? In other words, are there non-training issues?
  8. What will be the nature of management support for job application and practice after training?

Learning Needs

  1. What knowledge and skills do you think the targeted employees need to learn to perform the way they should?
  2. How important is each knowledge item and skill that is listed above?
  3. How well should the targeted employees be performing the skills by the end of the training?
  4. Is anyone performing these skills now? How well are they performing? Are they meeting organizational goals?

Learner Needs

  1. What are the targeted learners’ backgrounds and experience in this subject matter?
  2. What is their job environment like? Fast-paced, stressful, routine?
  3. What are the expectations regarding when and how they will attend the training? During work, after hours, paid, unpaid?
  4. What technology do the learners have access to?
  5. How durable does the course need to be? Does it need to exist for one-time use, each month, each year, ongoing and just-in-time?
  6. What access to course documents do learners need before, during and after the course? Should the information be placed in an existing reference manual, knowledge articles, performance evaluations?

2. Course Development and Design

Following the documentation and agreement upon training needs, the Specialist creates project documentation that describes the course(s) to be created, the justification for the work, training objectives and any schedule, budget or technology constraints.

Often face-to-face, instructor-led courses will be part of a project roll-out, but are not sustainable for future users. This means that online, just-in-time courses may also be created along with a plan for continuous upgrade and maintenance of the content.


3. Assessments

Assessments are a required part of any DoIT-designed course. We use the Kirkpatrick Model to evaluate the effectiveness of training across four levels:

  1. Reaction: The degree to which participants find the training favorable, engaging and relevant to their jobs.
    • These assessments are built into each module of any course and documented by both the instructor and learners in a final course evaluation.
  2. Learning: The degree to which participants acquire the intended knowledge, skills, attitude, confidence and commitment based on their participation in the training.
    • Assessments for most DoIT-led courses are created and maintained in Blackboard to ensure that learner assessments are properly graded and recorded.
  3. Behavior: The degree to which participants apply what they learned during training when they are back on the job.
    • This level of assessment requires a good working relationship with the subject-matter experts and management staff in the unit(s) who requested the course. During the needs analysis, the DoIT Specialist will work with these staff to design activities and assessments that continue beyond completion of the course itself.
  4. Results: The degree to which targeted outcomes occur as a result of the training and the support and accountability package.
    • The most difficult, but most valuable, assessment is tied to business outcomes and the ability of the learners' unit to adequately measure how the training has benefited their long-term business improvement goals. The DoIT Specialist generally plays no part in these assessments but is responsible for designing such assesssments with the subject-matter experts and management staff during the needs analysis phase.

For more information or to request a training needs consultation, please email ServiceDesk@niu.edu.