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Best Practices for Designing a USGS L&D Product When “Training” is Needed

When using the “Action Mapping” technique to design and develop a Learning and Development (L&D) product, we (subject-matter experts [SME] and Distance Learning [DL] Team) focus on:

  • “Actions” instead of “learning objectives”
  • “Behavior change” instead of “learning”
  • “Rigorous evaluation” of the L&D product instead of “Testing the student”

We need to create real-world practice activities and then present optional information as needed.  Cathy’s graphic illustrates this best.

This is a profound difference in the way we have designed and developed USGS L&D products in the past, but it is a timely and much-needed change!  We need to design experiences, not information and the DL Team can assist with this.


Ideas for a Great L&D Product

  • Use branching or mini-scenarios:  These are great for when the learner needs to make real-world decisions and seeing the consequences as they go through the scenario. 
    • Branching scenarios contain multiple decision points (questions).  See Cathy Moore’s example of a branching scenario.
    • Mini-scenarios have one scene.  They have just one question. Feedback is immediate and the learner sees the real-word consequence depending on how they answered the question.  You can string mini-scenarios together to make a story.
    • The DL Team has the software to develop scenarios based on the SME’s input and materials.
  • Short demonstration videos are great for learning field instrumentation.
  • Screen-recording software, such as Camtasia© or Captivate©, is great for showing a learner how to use a software program.  These tools record the screen and add annotation to walk the learner through using the software.
  • Job Aids
    • Job Aids can include:
      • Step-by-Step process--Presents information in sequence
      • Forms and Worksheets are like the step-by-step process, but they require user participation.  These are very handy when the learner must perform calculations.
      • Checklists--Items are presented in a logical sequence but are not necessary followed in that order.
      • Decision Tables--Allow the user to make decisions and complete tasks based on a set of conditions.
      • Flowcharts--Questions in a flowchart can be answered by a “yes” or “no.”  The user follows the flowchart until enough questions have been answered for an accurate decision to be made.
      • Reference sources--Primarily provide information required for completing a task.
  • Use a combination of stand-alone e-Learning modules and face-to-face (Classroom or webinar) instruction for a blended-learning product.
  • Tips for Webinars or Virtual Training
  • Let the DL Team help you in creating mobile learning L&D products.  For example—Demonstration videos on doing Indirect Measurements.  The learner can view the demo they want to see while they are in the field doing the measurement.

The DL Team looks forward to working with you creating an interactive, accessible and informative L&D product!  Contact us at email alias:


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