Naming Conventions for Training


This is something I’ve been toying with on and off for years. Now I’m finally in the position where I get to make some of the rules, and I’m trying them out. Whaddya think?

Why this matters

Until you have a naming convention, there is no clear way to for the Training Team to communicate internally about specific trainings. That means excessive confusion when dealing with stakeholders about trainings during development, deployment, assignment, and reporting — especially as changes happen over time. As a result, gaps and overlaps in efforts will be common, leading to unnecessary risk and frustration for everyone.

The guidelines described below are intended to alleviate such pain, and should serve organizations of up to 20,000 or so active users well. Training titles exist to provide unique and descriptive names for the training need, not the training content. When creating a title, don’t think about what it is but rather how the person it was created for would think to look for it. This is the primary function of a training title: search.

Titles may occasionally overlap, which is not in itself a big problem — unless these trainings of the same name are assigned or made searchable by the same people. When someone finds training that’s called the same or a very similar name, or training that calls itself one thing but is actually something else entirely, it tends to confuse and frustrate them. These guidelines are an attempt to minimize, and possibly even eliminate, such user confusion and frustration going forward.

Content named upstream

As was stated at the beginning of this document, content dependent on other systems is not something we should attempt to rename. Training that originates from other systems and remains hosted off the LMS should always retain the same title as on its source system. We are trying to reduce confusion, not force conformance to rules.

Words to Avoid

First, please omit these and other redundant and potenially conflicting words:
  • training
  • class
  • classroom
  • curriculum
  • course
  • module
  • material
  • link
  • video
  • ILT
  • version

These are formatting words that are already described in the course code, in the icon displayed to users, and is ultimately determined by how it is added to the Learning Management System.

No version-based or date-based titles

While it is technically possible to change the title of training between incremental versions, we strive to describe content consistently and irrespective of versions. This starts with not putting a version number or date in the title of the training itself. If a training is on a policy from 2020, remember that it will still be the same policy when it gets updated in 2022. We do not need to create a new learning object when this happens, we need to version it and update the content. In the meantime, it just looks outdated for all of 2021, even though it isn’t. Focus on the training need, not the update name, the training need usually remains the same.

No language-based titles

Titles like “Global Social Media Policy – China” may be common. But to someone from China, seeing the name in English is not very useful. The title of every training should always be written in the language that the training itself is in. And we can now have a single training that is in multiple languages, which simplifies everything from assignment to reporting. If you’re tempted to put language in the title of a training, chances are there’s a better way to put this training on the LMS anyhow. Language is a property of the training, not a name for it.

Avoid the abbreviations & acronyms

Abbreviations and acronyms are perfectly appropriate for Training Descriptions, and make fantastic keywords! Titles are not the place to put them. Please avoid the use of any acronyms and/or abbreviations in training titles, as they typically don’t help the people the training was created for. Remember, don’t call it what you would call it, whenever possible call it what the people who need to learn what it even is would call it.

Role-based titles for Curricula

Curricula are often named after a job title or role, which is fine as long as it is complete and all-inclusive for the topic.

Function-based titles for content inside Curricula

All learning object types that are or may be contained within curricula should be named after a job function but not job title or job role. The reason for this is that the original audience a specific asset was developed for may not be the only audience it is made available or assigned to. For example, everyone with a view-only function can benefit from a given resource, regardless of their specific job. Thus we can have several different curricula with the same shared resource, providing a more efficient reuse of existing training.

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