Well let’s move on to look at what goes into REALLY GOOD PREPARATION long before we get anywhere near a gaggle of learners chewing nervously on custard creams and trying to figure out how the coffee machine works.
For the sake of authenticity we’re going to assume a real world situation. We’ve been asked to run a workshop on Dementia Awareness. Why Dementia Awareness? Well as I’m writing this it’s a topic very fresh in my experience (e.g this week) and in terms of bang for learning buck, its a subject that can yield significant results within a short period of time.
So let’s start off by asking ourselves these four fundamental questions:
1) How long have we got?
With budgets getting squeezed to the Nth degree and every minute of every day carefully accounted for, we’ve been allocated three hours. Three hours!? This may seem a weeny bit harsh, but let’s look on the bright side. Sometimes a tight time window can lend much needed focus to course design, and we’re delivering a Dementia Awareness course and not a BSc degree programme. And haven’t we all attended courses stretched way beyond the time needed to achieve their objectives simply because the trainer has been booked by the day and not the hour?
2) Who are the learners, and what roles do they perform?
We have a group of fifteen domiciliary care workers. They provide personal care and household tasks for older people in their own homes. Many of their clients experience a range of dementias of varying severity. The group are quite mixed in terms of experience, educational achievement, and command of English.
3) What are the group’s learning and job needs?
Let’s all stop being cynical for a moment and assume that our domiciliary care provider has the funding, time and management nous to have conducted some form of learning needs analysis with our staff. Some have years of experience working with dementia while others simply can’t understand their client’s constant demands for that cup of tea they actually made five minutes ago, or how a simple request to make way for the vacuum cleaner becomes World War Three. Being able to understand and communicate better with dementia sufferers is a major learning and job need.
4) What are we trying to achieve in our allotted time?
Well, with only three hours to play with (including the all important coffee break) let’s not be too ambitious. But we’re aware of a number of misconceptions held by staff about dementia. We’ve heard carers referring to clients as ‘a bit demented’ which roughly translated means ‘daft.’ Others get the terminologies of ‘Dementia’, ‘Dementias’ and ‘Alzheimer’s’ completely confused. Some of our colleagues seem to think all people with dementia have hearing problems AND SHOUT AT THEM ALL THE TIME. So if we’re looking for learning objectives (and if not, why not?) the busting of a few myths and improved communication skills may not be too much of a moving target.
Some Do’s and Don’t s
So now we’re in the training room as our audience filters in. We feel great. Why?
Because we have:
- A very clear idea of our learning objectives and what we and our group want to achieve.
- A fast-moving and varied programme which will prove interesting, challenging and thought-provoking.
- An atmosphere that encourages our learners to share experiences, discuss, debate, and ask questions without fear.
- Well prepared training materials that are going to be useful for more than just doodling, origami or scribbling down phone numbers.
And hopefully we haven’t got:
- Reams and reams of notes from which we’re going to stand. And read. And read. And… Zzzzzzzzzz
- A 45-minute documentary downloaded from YouTube which allows the trainer to put their feet up and eat sweets, but does precious little in terms of meeting our learning objectives.
- A 76-slide Powerpoint file. Especially not a 76-slide Powerpoint file with a collection of different fonts, copious amounts of WordArt, teeny-weeny text and a dozen whizzy animations. A little Powerpoint (or one of its alternatives such as Prezi) can be very useful, but overuse is the highway to Snoozeville.
So that’s our chopped-down to the bare basics minimalist guide to preparing a training session. Our next and final instalment will take a look at training delivery. Yes, the sexy bit. So if you don’t want to miss some valuable insights into getting ‘warmed up’, the use of visual aids and of course the joy of role-play then follow @connorkinsella on Twitter or subscribe to this blog. Or if you’re very old skool you could just write a note in your diary for next Friday 24 January.
See you again next Friday.