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Course Reviewer’s Corner

By Michael F. Tamara, Assoc. AIA

Manager, Continuing Education Programs

Some Thoughts on Putting Together an Effective Presentation

As an AIA CES course reviewer, I spend a lot of time talking about what is necessary for a successful course submission. However, it is conceivable that one can assemble an outstanding course submission without the corresponding presentation reflecting the same level of quality. I would like to devote the next several Course Reviewer’s Corner articles to offering pointers that go more in-depth on the content side—that is, the composition of the courses and presentations themselves.

Very often, Providers will have a course presentation already complete, and then simply come up with the learning objectives to submit for approval to AIA CES. But what if a different approach were to be taken? What if the learning objectives were to be used to actually generate the content? Providers who do this may find that they are generally more successful at reaching their audience.

To make this as simple as possible, we can break the process down into three steps:

    1. Establish the desired message. Before anything else, simply ask what you really want your audience to learn. This may sound elementary, and it is, but it is good to revisit this question periodically even for courses that have been delivered for years.

    2. Establish how to best convey the message to the attendees. Once you’ve established what you want your audience to learn, the next step is to consider how you will convey these expectations to them, and how you will measure whether or not the transmission of knowledge was successful. The framework for this measurement is laid out in the form of learning objectives.

    3. Summarize the overall message in light of the learning objectives. Try writing the learning objectives before the course description so that the latter simply serves as a way of “checking” the objectives. If the objectives are good ones, the course description should essentially be an elaboration on your initial desired message.

The next time you’re writing course material, try this reverse approach ofcreating learning objectives first and course description second, and see if it makes a difference in the effectiveness of your content and presentation.


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