1. Review your course plan or schedule.

Take a look at your course plan from the point of view of the trainees. If your trainees are very much hands on people, determine how much of your course gives them opportunity to do things.

One course I helped design had wood industry trainees trying out different modes of communication outside. It was a bit like the child's game of passing whispers and demonstrated how easily messages can be scrambled on a worksite.

2. Use breaks for further learning challenges

By giving breaks a purpose you will create some urgency to get started again. Trainees will want to know if what they found out is 'true'. Consider whether you can add challenges to your course during lunch breaks. These can include:

    Searching for answers in a manual
    Doing some research on a computer
    Discussing a set topic and presenting conclusions after the break
    Texting to others who may know the answer

3. Convert PowerPoints to video

If all your presentation material is in PowerPoint, consider using PowerPoint conversion software to change some of it to a video presentation. Captivate and Movavi are two I have tried.

If you add voice-over get someone else to read the script for each slide. A different voice varies the dynamic and aids recall. Break-up PowerPoints with illustrations and reduce the words. If it's a video, let the voice-over do the explaining.

4. Introduce challenging questions

Prepare a list of questions about the information you are presenting. Use 'enquiry' questions that encourage trainees to review what they already know and compare it to what they are learning.

Questions could be modelled on these:

    "Given what you have just learned, how could you apply this in your workplace?"
    "In what circumstances would this not apply?"
    "Would this be possible without installing new equipment?"

5. Change training activities to different forms

Plan to change one activity each time you run the course. You don't have to throw out the current method, just put it away and bring it out for another time you teach it. Changing your methods of teaching gives you a fresh look at the material too.

No activity will teach without your input. The activity debrief is where you draw out the learning that trainees need to take back to their workplaces.

Training does not have to be all one direction - 'I talk you listen'. You can get across information in a variety of ways.

    Bring in an expert for a topic. The trainees will listen more attentively and realize that other people have similar experience or knowledge.
    Have a group debate. Each small group (3-4 trainees) is given different short articles on the topic. They are to read and discuss the article and decide on the key points. Then they feed back to the whole group for further discussion guided by you.
    Create a group activity. These can vary hugely depending on the topic and the technical competency of the group. The physical activity is more likely to cement the learning.
    Design a board game. Board games can be great for getting across facts and principles. They do require some thought to work well. Most effective training board games require the players to answer questions correctly to reach the goal. The learning occurs during the game and afterwards in the trainer-led debrief.


Bringing enthusiasm back into your courses requires a bit of time and mental energy. The rewards, however, can be great for you and the people you are training.

So to sum up:

1. Review your course plan and making changes to the plan and resources.

2. Add course break challenges that keep trainees focused all day.

3. Convert PowerPoints to video or another method of presentation.

4. Introduce challenging questions to involve trainees in the learning.

5. Change your training activities to different forms to create a bag of pick-and-mix activities for each course iteration.

Heather Sylvawood is an educational and training resource developer who has created course resources for face-to-face and distance learning courses, including web-based and CD accessed training. She now runs a website called eBrainz (http://www.ebrainz.net.nz) where members of the public can have recreational and home-skill courses hosted for free. The site includes a course for course creators to help them create an online course. The material, however, is applicable to both online and offline training and contains links to low-cost applications to keeps development costs down.


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