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4-T Model - A new way to categorize training

Sometimes it is hard to explain to Subject Matter Experts how they should organize / structure their content. They naturally are under the impression that everything they know is equally important and thus must be packed into the training they ask you to create for them. Instructional designers know, though, that not every content is equally important for each learner. We also know that learners are very different in the way they acquire new knowledge or adapt new behavior. Until now, though, it was always somewhat difficult to provide SMEs with a comprehensive approach to structure their ideas.

For this purpose I have developed a new model to structure training. I call it the 4-T model:

Teaser - Make people aware of the content, of what might be in it for them, show them why they should invest some time to learn more about this specific topic or why they should indeed change their behavior.

Teaching - The part where knowledge transfer happens. This is often referred to as 'training' but that's actually incorrect: The teaching part explains the processes, the structure of the content, the reasons why it is important and how it is interlinked with other topic areas.

Training - This is where most of the initiatives fail: In order to learn something, you have to practice it. Training means like in sports or when playing an instrument: Do it over and over again and get better and better at it. More often than not we do not foresee enough time for training in so called 'training' initiatives.

Testing - If individuals want to be sure that they have mastered a topic, a test can help. If a company wants to be sure that a certain group of people have the same level of know-how, a certification might be a good idea. If testing is well designed, it can be an important part of a learning concept.

The advantage of this model has proven many times already, even though it is barely a week old. Amazingly enough it not just helps SMEs but also training professionals a lot. Some of them came back to me and told me that they were waiting for a structure like this to understand what they are producing even better. It also turns out that in the field of technology-based learning this structure is very helpful - whether you produce a Learning Nugget (Teaser) or a Web-based Training (Teaching) or an online simulation (Training) or an eTest (Testing), it all falls into place.

Feel free to start using this structure, but please remember to mention my name if you do.

  1. March 23rd, 2011 at 23:31 | #1

    Thank you, Jochen, for your valued input. I actually think that informal learning happens in all 4 categories. A formal teaser might be a learning nugget, designed by training professionals, aimed to bring across one idea on a topic and aimed to motivate the learner to go on from there. An informal teaser might be a thought that I post on a blog, something that gets me started - and others too.
    A formal teaching session? Well I guess that's obvious. A traditional classroom event like we see them delivered for hundreds of years now. An informal teaching session would be my endeavor to collect know-how on a new topic by browsing the internet. Instead of having a teacher in front of me who designs the content for me, I have to do this on my own. Nevertheless I'm being taught by others.
    A formal training session happens for example in a role play situation: Participants don't get taught new know-how or behavior but they train themselves by trying new stuff, by getting better at what they had heard earlier. This could also happen in an online simulation. An informal training session might be an impromptu meeting in Second Life to discuss newly acquired know-how witth peers and/or try new behavior in an informal setting.
    Finally testing: The formal option is a traditional assessment, for example. The informal version could be playing an online game like 'Who wants to be a millionaire' and find out how well you remember what you have learned.
    I wonder if you can follow my argument?

  2. March 3rd, 2011 at 21:16 | #2

    Martin, your model sounds very appealing! Just one point that comes up to my mind: Have you thought of a way to integrate informal learning into this picture? I can’t provide you with the appropriate T-word but I think this would really complement the picture! At least from the perspective of Learning & Development it will become more and more important not only to deliver courses and content, but also to support e.g. community building approaches, knowledge sharing, personal learning environments and so on. What do you think?
    Best, JR

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