Custom Courses

I am going to get a bit Tom Peters with this post, which will be a bunch of comments – use what you wish.

All on site courses are custom courses. If not we are missing an opportunity to give the client the tools they need to be solve problems that they have.

But to achieve a standardised (good) output on a non standard product requires extra preparation by all involved.


  • What level are they are at now?
  • What do they do?
  • What do they need to be able to do?
  • What do they have problems with?
  • What are their objectives?
  • Can we see a sample of a problem?

Software Versions – will all trainees have same version – will course ware and exercise files match versions trainees have – or all one version – both approaches have pros and cons depending on the application.

Software Licencing – does the client own enough licences for on site training – all the same version? Can be an issue for Acrobat, for example, where fewer copies are owned.

Internet Access available? for example to show trainees resources online, templates etc

Is there a need for a complex set up – eg certain apps installed in a set order eg Office first then Acrobat to get Acrobat integration in MS Office? If so some liaison between training centre tech support and clients tech support might be required.

An example of a more involved set up is Outlook, will the trainees use practice accounts or their own live accounts. Practice accounts are better, less distraction by real email during the course, but requires some lead time so client can set up practice accounts and load practice mail.

Laptops – will all trainees have same OS and version of the application being trained in. Also remind trainees to bring power supplies, mice, UTP cables or have working wireless if networking is required eg to access exercise files

Exercise Files – Forward to client prior to session or trainer to take on day?

Will a shared area be available for trainees to access and copy practice files or use USB at the start of the session?

Session Times – what Start and finish times will the participants be given? If they are habitual late starters – please warn trainer if trainees are told 8:30 start for a 9:00 am session to “get everyone there on time”

Safety – need safely arranged, taped down extension cords and ample power boards, especially in laptop based training, for safety and to reduce time lost in set up on the day.

Corporate Style Guides/Relevant IT policies etc – from Word to Dreamweaver, this can influence what we cover, what we emphasise during the course, to suit corporate guidelines – can we see it beforehand? Are any software features disabled at this site?

Physical layout – don’t put trainees facing away from projection screen – will there be room for trainer to get around group between desks to help all participants.

Logistics, for example:

  • Contact information
  • Public transport/Parking
  • Training/Trainer logins/passwords
  • Contact on day
  • bring lunch

For light industry and all industrial sites, do we need to allow time to do an induction on site, so we don’t get eaten by heavy machinery, know to walk between the yellow lines, fork lifts have right of way etc.

Training Providers could maintain SharePoint sites for trainers and account managers to collaborate on Course outlines, that would develop in to a resource including:

  • outlines
  • set up information
  • maps and other logistical information
  • exercise files
  • extra information gained by previous trainers eg set up quirks etc

That would allow future similar courses to be developed without completely reinventing the wheel each time. Thereby gaining efficiency over time.

Not all of this applies to every course. It is hard to know what to ask for first sessions with a new client, hence my thoughts re SharePoint to accumulate knowledge as experience is gained with a client.

Your comments are welcomed, what have I forgotten?