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What’s the key to good quality training I hear you ask?
We will share some of our ideas to this question below. When you think about it, you probably have all the answers yourselves already but sometimes it’s helpful to be reminded. We often find ourselves in environments where we feel restrained by the expectations and practices of the RTO or perhaps you have not reflected on what the keys to quality training are. Reflection is a very important part of learning and RTOs and trainers need to keep learning if they wish to stay relevant and effective.
Let’s take some time now to think about training development, training delivery and reflection.
Training delivery and development – the reality of the VET sector
The easiest and the most common approach to training delivery is to use a didactic approach that requires the trainer to talk to a presentation, provide handouts with questions and answers and perhaps unconsciously discourage interaction or practice in the classroom. We see this in RTOs all the time. The trainer centred, ‘death by PowerPoint’ or ‘chalk and talk’ approach to delivery allows the trainer to stay in control in the classroom, simplifies the resource requirements and allows the trainer to strictly manage the delivery time. This one way approach is also used in the online space. Students are expected to navigate their own learning journey without any opportunity for interaction or practice. No wonder the completion rates for online students are so low across the sector!!
We have to ask – is this the most effective approach for learners and does it achieve the best outcomes? Does the one size fits all approach meet the requirements of the Standards for RTOs 2015? With ASQA changing their audit approach to focus on the student experience, surely it is time for RTOs to take time out to reflect on their approach and start meeting the needs of their students?
Training delivery and development for a quality student experience
Development of compliant, successful and quality training programs is complex. Firstly you need good preparation including access to good quality resources, skilled, knowledgeable and passionate trainers and learners who are engaged and eager to learn. Oh….and of course there is that small complication that every one of your learners is different. They bring different needs, knowledge, skills and experience to the classroom. They also have different reasons for being there.
Some thoughts from The Learning Community……
We would like to share some of our tips for successful training:
- Know your target audience: do as much research as possible about your learners including their previous work experience and prior knowledge, why they have enrolled in the course and whether or not they have any specific needs that might hinder them from learning.
- Take time to write SMART Learning outcomes: use the information gathered about your learners to design specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time framed learning outcomes.
- Session Planning: Use a template to plan your sessions. Don’t run your sessions from the PowerPoint. If you do this your session will become trainer centred. Use a session plan and if appropriate schedule in sections of presentation along the way.
- Take a flexible approach to training design and delivery:
- Design training sessions to include a range of delivery methods to provide a range of opportunities for learning for all of your learners.
- Listen to your learners, provide opportunities to monitor their progress during the class and alter the session as needed e.g. a quick class discussion or pop quiz can provide feedback to the trainer and the learner about their progress.
- Begin your training sessions by asking, not telling, to show respect for the prior knowledge of your learners. Once the group has established common ground on a topic you can provide extra input using handouts and presentations, videos etc. Start with the general and move to specifics, delving as deeply into a topic as is appropriate for the program and AQF level and to meet the needs of your learners.
- Follow this information sharing phase with challenges, questions and activities that will enable the learners to try out their new knowledge and test new skills. Making the learning relevant will engage and enthuse your learners. If they are to apply their learning successfully in their workplace they must be encouraged to link the learning with their current and future roles.
- Provide a range of opportunities for practice including case study analysis, simulations, group work, individual activities, use of video, competition etc. But be prepared to alter the activity to keep in tune with the group e.g. don’t use a role play activity with a shy or quiet group before they are comfortable together.
- Never assess your students until they have had opportunities to practice skills and apply knowledge.
- Remember repetition and a variety of learning experiences are needed to help your learners construct their own meaning of the topic
- By using a variety of delivery approaches and learning activities the individual learning pathway of a student becomes customised to meet their needs.
- Distance programs and online learning design: Design of training programs in the online environment should reflect similar principles and tips as outlined above. You should design a complex mix of presentation, question and answer and group activities etc. to enable practice, enquiry and confirmation of new knowledge. For example, you could include:
- simple review questions at the end of readings,
- set challenge exercises such as a requirement for the learner to talk to a work colleague about a task, look at a website, YouTube clip or a TED talk,
- the requirement for a Skype call with the trainer to discuss learning or participate in a role play or other activity
- a webinar with other distance students to conduct a role play or to present and discuss a concept.
- Review what you do and be willing to change along the way:
- Ongoing feedback from students is valuable. Don’t wait until the end of the course to gather the opinions of your learners.
- Use your session plans to record changes, what worked well, what needs changing and review the comments as you design the next program or session.
Do you or your RTO need to change your approach to training development and delivery?
What is the first step to success in training development and delivery?
If you are concerned about the experience of your learners but don’t know how to change your training approach we suggest that you take some time out for reflection. Taking a step back to think about the way you are currently developing and delivering training is a useful exercise to help discern what is working well and what could be improved.
Take time out as an individual and as a training team to reflect on what makes a good training program. You might like to use our Student Experience – Reflections on A Training Program tool to help you do this.
If you use our reflection tool with your training team you will find that there are many factors that contribute to a good training experience and you may find that you identify many things that need to change in your RTO. You should compare the results from the reflection tool with your student evaluations to ensure that the issues you have identified are not contrary to the feedback you receive. If the outcomes of your reflective exercise confirm the concerns of students then you already have your priority list for change. Nevertheless this can be overwhelming.
So, here are a few tips to help you move forward with change:
- Identify the required changes and build a strategy for improvement for the next 6-12 months.
- Conduct a training needs analysis of your staff to determine if they are equipped for change.
- Provide support for staff and communicate with both staff and students about your plans.
- Trial your updated training program and ask for feedback from staff and students.
- Implement further changes, incorporating ongoing review and improvement.
We hope you have found these ideas helpful. We would love to hear your ideas about providing a quality training experience for your learners so together we can build a stronger learning community. Please comment below.
If you would like some more information on quality training development and delivery contact us on email@example.com and we will be happy to talk to you.
Thanks for being part of our community,