During many years of experience in the training and education industry, I have identified some critical areas where trainers are likely to underperform or even fail. One of those areas related to trainer’s job is the development and use of Session Plans. The required systematic approach to the production of Session Plans it is a concern for Training Managers, Director of Studies and Head trainers.
What is more, ASQA and the State Training Authorities auditing reports analysis show an important trend in RTOs non-compliance because of poor quality or not existing Sessions Plans.
Trying to put some light into this task, I have extracted some concepts brilliantly explained by Lawlor in her book Training in Australia.
As the name suggests, session plans are a plan for specific sessions. Once the training program document has been designed and the program has been developed, you will need to plan out the specific sessions within the program if they are to be presented in face-to-face delivery mode.
A session plan is a blueprint for the conduct of the session. It sets the direction, specifies what has to be done, in what sequence and with what aids, resources and equipment. The trainer should be able to conduct the session without any further assistance if the session plan is developed properly.
Session plans should be used to provide a guide to the time allowed for activities, the aids to be used, when to give out handouts and when to turn to specific pages in learner workbooks. They let the trainers know when to show overhead transparencies, when to ask questions, when to commence exercises, when to use what training methods and when to conclude. Session plans help trainers to prepare for the session. They can also act as a checklist for training aids, materials, equipment and resources.
However, they are not cast in concrete and if you feel a need to digress from the session plan and you have a reason to do so, then you should. Skilful trainers are flexible ones!
It is not possible or reasonable to expect trainers to hold all this information in their head. If there was no session plan trainers might go in all directions, providing a whole range of experiences for the learners but without meeting the learning outcomes of the program. The session plan keeps the training on track by keeping the trainer on track. Session plans also help other trainers to present the course with some consistency.
While trainers will always bring their own personalities to the training session, the session plan helps other trainers to present a course which is the same in content and outcomes as any other trainer.
A session plan can be divided into a number of components. The most common are outcomes, content, timing, aids required, learner activity and the delivery method to be used. These are explained in following Table.
Specific learning outcomes for the session written in the usual format and developed from the competency standards applicable to the program.
The main points of the content to be covered in the session, including keywords, key questions to ask and the logical order of the presentation of the content
Provides an estimate of how long it will take to work through the content, exercises and activities in the session. Lets trainers know if they are on time or behind time. This always happens as groups are different from each other. An estimate allows you to increase or slow the pace.
Each of the training materials or aids required is listed in the session plan according to the time and order in which the trainer needs to use them
Lists the activities learners will be engaged in during the session such as practice, discussion exercise, outdoor exercise and so on
This component indicates to the trainer what delivery methods to use for what outcome. Any instructions on the use of these methods are also included in this section
In the delivery of training all steps of the training system are combined to produce an active process which learners go through and which is designed to produce change in them. In reality that change can be minimal if the delivery of the training is not done professionally. There is much more to delivering training than standing in front of a group of people, showing overhead transparencies and handing out materials.
The delivery of training requires techniques by the trainer in presenting, facilitating and managing learning, communicating, providing feedback and interacting. The trainer needs a large range of communication skills, emotional intelligence and interpersonal skills, as well as understanding of adult learning principles and skill in using training methods