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I have recently been reviewing the IT training within my organisation. Some of the staff have asked that the training lasts no more than 30 mins. I am already restricted with my training sessions in that they can only last between 45 - 60 mins.

Which is the best way to deliver trainng to ensure that learners take in what is happening during the sessions and don't feel rushed?

Any suggestions would be
gratefully received.
Louise Dack

11 Responses

  1. Session specific
    Given the time allowed you need to work on one or two areas only. Get the students to come up with what they want to learn and what they intend to do with the new skill or function.

    Then tailor the training to enhancement in that key area. If you are training a group then clearly the point needs to be of shared use or run small groups for the areas they place the emphasis on. We did this for a company some time ago who had decided to go forward with ECDL.

    The sessions were focused on the ECDL modules and each student was asked to complete a mini test on all IT areas on a laptop with help from a tutor one-to-one and this clarified the areas needed for further study to pass ECDL. The test we devised showed results into a spreadsheet which then was reported into a graph to show resources needed for the 150 staff to pass ECDL. This testing was accurate as all those deemed ready passed first time and the scale of training the others went according to the planned resources required. The ROI was within 2% of forecast target so even the bean counters were happy!

    Over the past three years we have seen a great compression on time devoted to training. This is true even where there are qualifications required. Given that time is the most scarce resource we have become used to compressing knowledge into bite size chunks. I was the most cynical as to the use of these chunks but we have had great results. The tutor role is key as so much more work needs to be put into these compressed courses to ensure there is a plan for learning. It can be very rewarding so the best of luck with it.

    TBD Global Ltd
    0870 241 3998

  2. Restructure

    Firstly, if your training sessions last longer than 40-45 minutes they are TOO long even if no-one complains, or asks for a change.

    People’s attention span can be as little as 20-25 minutes, and seldom if ever extends *effectively* beyond 45 minutes.

    Secondly – don’t compress. Restructure the session contents so that you can give the trainees stuff to read, exercises etc. that they can do BEFORE they come on the training session so that your 30 minutes is about revision and consolidation rather than imparting brand new information.

    DO MAKE SURE that your delegates understand what you’re doing and that the pre-session work is MANDATORY, not optional.

  3. Less is More
    Some of the same principles used in streamlining sessions for delivery via videoconferencing or other e-learning can be as effectively applied for more concise classroom delivery:
    * Pre-Session:
    Use e-mail or other pre-session contact. Forward suggested Web links or other resources for participants to browse areas which would prepare them for the session with background info. Leading into the session will not only prepare them but will further stimulate their interest. (This repeats Paul’s suggestion, to emphazize its importance.)
    * Session:
    Use graphics as much as possible and whenever relevant – A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words – really. Use PowerPoint with bulleted items for snappy coverage of important topics.
    * Post-Session:
    Leave participants with something to take back for review on their own time. Printed handouts of your PowerPoint slides (recommend 6/page) will obviate their need to take notes during the session, thus focusing their attention during your limited delivery. Other possibilities to leverage shorter session times: include take-away questions on your last slides to prompt further independent thought or discussion outside the session – make yourself available by e-mail to answer questions – set up a chat room for discussions – assign Mentor/Mentee pairs to interact outside the sessions, etc.

    Remember throughout: Less is More – sessions thoughtfully streamlined can accomplish as much, if not more, learning and retention. And conversely, More time spent on preparation will translate into Less time needed for delivery.

    Jim Scalise
    Staff Development Group

  4. Pre session
    I noted the comments on pre session delivery structure with interest.

    We find that in those organisations we work in no time is available for pre session learning or familiarisation.

    This is not a lack of commitment to training or disinterest just the real world of commercial demands and work life balance.

    Although we send materials a month in advance ( sometimes more) only 5% of the students get the time to read it.

    I am sure this time element is a problem other trainers find and we compensate by post session support as the student puts into practice what they have learned. This is very effective.

    TBD Global Ltd

  5. Not sure if presession work is suitable
    The idea of some presession work is interesting but I cannot see it working at my organisation. It is quite difficult to get staff to give up time to attend IT Training due to financial and time targets that they have. I cannot see them taking time out before a training session to do presession work. Even if I were to explain the benefits, they want everything to be covered in the short training sessions with back up once they return to their desks.

    It is a very difficult area and I am grateful for the replies I have received already.

  6. Training Precis
    The responses you will receive will, no doubt, mention that it is impossible to gain meaningful learning from 30 minutes time. Perhaps the only way would be to have on-line learning at the learners pace.

    Alternatively, below is an outline of a process for 1.5 hour sessions. This could be reduced with agreement. If of interest, ring me on 01484 401739 Brian Birkby, Birkby Lancaster Consulting.

    Fast Forward

    Fast Forward is a set of basic training products aimed at enthusing individuals towards learning and organisations towards improvement. It is designed for a fast and efficient transfer of knowledge and to provide a foundation for subsequent skill development.

    The brand name neatly sums up the product. It provides a quick and focused ‘taster’ aimed at making people aware of opportunities and ways to improve business results. They are helped to move forward, ie overcoming the initial inertia to change, caused by being unaware of what is possible. In order to progress there would need to be further in-depth training and development, which would be outside the scope of the sessions.

    Fast Forward comprises a PowerPoint presentation, a nominal handout and an action plan delivered within a 1½ session, each session aligned to a particular subject.

  7. Focus
    I have had to do this exercise on a number of occasions. The easiest way is to look over the material you were originally going to present and then just isolate two or three key points and spend time focussing on those rather than try to cover everything.

    It is easier to give delegates additional information on topics that they want to know more about then fill their minds with information that they cannot see any relevance to.

    Try to get the delegates to see a practical application to the topics being discussed. Even if they go away remembering just one thing that they can make use of your 30 min. session will have been worth it!

  8. use time out of training session to develop learning
    identify why they only want 30 mins – possibly some other problem they may need to address first – also prepare exercises for ‘prework and homework’

  9. ???????
    In the current climate, it seems to me, people want “just in time training” (great name for a training company?). They want the training they ACTUALLY need, not necessarily the training that someone else thinks they ought to have.

    If someone *needs* training – if they can’t do their job without it – they will find time.
    If they can’t find time – if they can already do whatever this training is supposed to help them to do – they don’t need it.

    One might want to ask the trainees: “Is the current training addressing real needs in the right amount of detail?”

    Alternatively, if you think you’ve already got the right amount of material, you might consider the an old saying, If your boss tries to give you more work when you’re already snowed under, ask him/her what they want you to put aside in order to take on the new stuff.

    In this case, maybe you could ask the trainees something like “If you want a third off the time, which third of the material do you want me to cut out?”

    Might give them a new perspective?

  10. Reduction
    McDonalds perfected the reduction of time in making a burger. This does not work for humans who are learning a new concept.

    As trainers we are professionals and it devalues our work to have unrealistic restrictions made on the time it takes to impart information. I do not really want past trainees to spread the word amongst future trainees, that my sessions are ‘information indigestion’ sessions.

    Most trainers ‘worth their salt’ keep their sessions succinct anyway, to allow for trainees to experiment with what they have learnt in a reasonable amount of time.

    Usually when I am confronted with the same request, I argue that given the content that I have been asked to cover, a reduction in time does not assist: the retention of memory, the confidence level of the delegate or a change in behaviour.

    In my case there is no extra money if I unnecessarily lengthen the sessions. It is not ethical to do so anyway. I want the trainee to leave our session having learnt new skills and a feeling of confidence to employ the new skill set.

    I sometimes suggest that if the time allotted for a session is considered too much, that I will train the staff when they have more time.

    When I am asked to restrict training timelines now by belligerent managers, I usually oblige by only teaching the absolute, minimal basics with no time for exploration. I explain the consequences first before proceeding and notify my managers.

    Then I wait for the next request to retrain the delegates: double the amount of time away from the desk; double amount of the time to retain information and a trainee that does not feel confident with the product.

    Eventually the managers request that I return to the original timeline so that I only need to train the delegates once.

    Surprise, surprise

  11. Short sharp training
    If it has to be this way, then make use of pre course work – send them the theory beforehane to read up about. You can then concentrate on practising the skill in the session.
    Make the pre-course stuff fun – colourful, punchy.Put business quotes in there, and ‘Did you know’ facts. They’re more likely to read it.
    Offer a word search/quiz at the end of it- completed entries to be brought along to the session for a chance to go-in-the-hat for a prize.
    Hope that helps. Happy Days!


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