Refresh Your Approach to Designing Library Training Courses

Lauren Hays

Lauren Hays

May 11, 2021

Recently, I have been working on a project where I am serving as a subject matter expert. I have been in various education roles over the years, and understand the instructional design process. 

A few years ago, I even served as an instructional designer myself on a couple projects, and I have been teaching for a decade. However, serving in the role of subject matter expert during the instructional design process is new, and it is such an interesting perspective. It is forcing me to pause, reflect, and describe my content in new ways. Having an instructional designer ask questions and help me reframe what I know so well is helping to create a better experience for learners than I would be able to do by myself. It is also helping me to rethink how I can make my content relevant for learners today. 

Therefore, from this experience, I want to share a few things that I think may be helpful for those of you who design library training: 


Creating a course with a team is an invaluable experience. It takes everyone speaking into the process to refine and shape the course to be the best learning experience possible. Many of us do not have the opportunity to create courses in a team environment, but if you have the opportunity take it! 

It is humbling to admit, but my ideas can almost always use improvement. I will not likely be able to create many courses in the future with a team, but I can still use a peer review process where others review my materials and give suggestions. 

When possible, take opportunities to pause and reflect. Consider how the information you have to share with others is applicable to their work. 

Course design

As librarians we teach in different settings, and I am seeing more training designed for on-demand learning. Scenario-based learning is a good model to use when you need to create training that learners review on their own. In a scenario-based course, learners are presented with a real-life scenario. The scenario unfolds by having the learner select options and discover consequences of their selections. This experience helps learners see the content used in a real-life setting and helps them learn to apply the content as well. 

Another reason to use a scenario-based course for online learning is that it guides learners through a situation that models what they may encounter in their job. This model serves as a safe place for learners to make decisions and receive feedback. The scenario also reinforces the applicability of the content by showing learners its relevance. For more information on scenario-based courses visit this site

I hope these reflections about being a subject matter expert during the creation of a course are beneficial for those of you who design training in your libraries. 


Lauren Hays

Lauren Hays

Lauren Hays, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Instructional Technology at the University of Central Missouri, and a frequent speaker on topics related to libraries and librarianship. Her professional interests include information literacy, educational technology, library and information science education, teacher identity, and academic development. Please read Lauren’s other posts about skills for special librarians. And take a look at Lucidea’s powerful integrated library systems, SydneyEnterprise, and GeniePlus, used daily by innovative special librarians in libraries of all types, sizes and budgets.

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