At some time, many of us will be asked to perform a review of some training content for a course. Not all reviews though are as good as they could be, so here are our top hints and tips for anybody taking on this role.
Ten Reviewer Hints and Tips
- Make sure you know the basics first. Who is this course aimed at? Are there any pre-requisites that they need to complete first? Have any assumptions been made? When is the course being delivered and how? This sounds like pretty basic advice, but over the years we’ve seen more of our fair share of queries from reviewers that clearly demonstrated that they didn’t know the basics.
- Take a step back and look at the course overall, before going into any detail. Are there any major modules missing?
- First impressions count. Now put yourself into the shoes of a learner. Does the look and feel of it portray the right image? Are brand guidelines being followed? Does the language being used feel right? Are the graphics cringe-worthy or stellar? Don’t start making detailed comments just yet, get the overall impression in YOUR head and decide if it’s fit for purpose or not. Write down your overall comments. These can go into an email or feedback meeting later if you have kept them.
- Build your list of criteria to review against. If you are doing this regularly there may already be some style guidelines in place or reviewer checklists, but if not, then you are going to need to come up with the criteria yourself. Some of the more common ones are:
- Spelling and grammar checks
- Can the number of words be cut down?
- Are graphics meaningful and relevant?
- If there are any animations are they distracting or useful?
- If audio or video is being used, is the quality high?
- Is the speed too slow or too fast?
- Are templates being used consistently?
- Are there the right signposts in there for a learner to follow?
- Do quicker learners have extra activities or exercises available for them?
- Is it too theoretical or practical?
- Does the content meet the objectives?
These are your judging criteria though, so it’s up to you to decide which ones you use and if you should add to the list. Knowing what you are judging against can also help content authors improve on other courses that you may need to review, so be ready to share your criteria with others. Above all, ensure you apply your criteria consistently.
- OK, now it’s time to start a detailed review. But where do you start? Well, the obvious place is at the start of the course, but hold on. Before you dive in, consider the actual mechanism that you are going to use to give your feedback. For example, in Microsoft Word, you could turn track changes on? In other tools, like TT-Knowledge Force and Adobe InDesign for example there are more rigorous built-in review mechanisms that allow feedback. Good reviewers will give a priority indication on a comment, due dates, and proper explanations that help the creator actually fix the issues.
- Work your way through the course giving your feedback. Try to remember that it’s likely that a team of people have been working hard on this, so stay positive and remain truthful. It’s also amazing how a little bit of humour along the way can help things along.
- Don’t just focus on the bits that need improving. Also point out things that you really like.
- Try to give suggestions and solutions to the areas that do need to be improved upon.
- It really helps workflows if you can give your review comments as you are going along. There may be the odd course where it makes sense to review everything before giving your comments though. If you do give comments as you are going along things can start getting fixed quicker.
- If you have the time to give a summary of your feedback with a content author face to face, then this gives them time to ask you questions and query items. It can be very helpful and create a good working relationship between reviewer and author.
Remember this though – at the end of the day the effectiveness of any course is going to be determined by the learners. Can they put into practice what they have learnt? Look at 70:20:10 models so the 10% that you have reviewed isn’t wasted.