Whether you need to develop a training course for a computer program or horseback riding, the method is the same. It is much easier to develop the course if you have experience in the subject---your experience will help you to determine what is and is not important. However, if you don't have that experience, you can still design a reasonably effective course with a little bit of research.

Determine what the goal of the course will be. This works best if it is something specific. For example, if the goal is to learn a computer program, then the goal could be to have the participants perform a specific task with the program. Write down the goal.

Determine the current skill level of the participants. Are they total beginners or do they already have some knowledge? If there is a broad spectrum of skill levels, you can consider breaking the course into two or more groups, from beginner to advanced.

Determine what supplies the participants will need for the course. Hands-on training is often effective and usually more interesting to students. For example, if you are offering a cooking training course, the students may need pans, ovens, utensils and ingredients. Write down everything they will need. Go down the list and check off which items the students should provide and which you can provide.

Think about the learning process. What will the participants need to know to get from their current point to where they will be at the final goal? What would be the best way to guide them through that process? Think about your own experience learning about the topic or talk to people who can give you some insight. Write down the different steps you come up with.

Design a lesson around each step. Keep them varied and make sure each lesson has a lead-in to the next. For each section, ask yourself whether the students have learned everything they need to know to be successful for that step, and if something is missing, either insert another step or cover the missing information in the previous lesson.

Include quizzes at different points. These don't have to be difficult; their purpose is to help solidify information, not frighten people. If an exam is required, give it at the end of the course.

Write up your final training course. At the top, write the name of the course. Below that, write the general goal of the course, followed by the specific goal. Next write a list of all the items each student will be required to have. For each lesson, write down its specific goal and which items should be brought that day. Have the specific goals from Step 4; they are the individual steps in the learning process. After writing the goal, include a brief summary on what will be covered that day. If you want to include a detailed lesson plan, write it up on a separate page. The first page should be only a summary, and provide a quick reference for the students.

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