Selecting Your Approach

The approach you select and amount of time you allocate to present this information will be determined primarily by the composition of the group and the individual experience of the course participants. Are they a homogenous or heterogeneous group (e.g. advocates versus other types of key individuals influencing policy?) How many individuals need to be trained? What is their experience with disability and equal employment opportunity issues? What is their experience in policy making? What is the gender, age, and education distribution of the group? Is there a particular piece of the content that is more relevant to the audience? All these variables are important to consider when determining the approach and amount of time needed to equip the course participants. Another important consideration is whether or not the student is expecting to receive college or university credit for course participation. If so, the amount of contact hours will be determined by your institutional requirements in this area and specific content will need to be customized to meet this time requirement.

Another consideration to make is the specific needs represented by individuals who will compose the audience. For example, what specific strengths and experiences do individual course participants bring to the learning environment that you could draw upon and consider as you design the training? Do participants have specific expectations that need to be met? Are there specific obstacles or challenges that students are going to experience as they attempt to apply the information you give them? This is critical information to consider as you design the learning experience, and should be gathered in a variety of ways including direct discussion with students; past observations; dialogue with larger groups of stakeholders; examination of data and reports; formal needs assessment; and more in-depth assessment of the current legislative, policy and regulatory environment in which course participants will need to operate.

In summary, it is important to understand your course participants’ needs in order to customize a learning experience that addresses not only time and course credit considerations, but also the specific content that you will need to focus on and the additional resources and references to support the learning experience.