Course planning

So, you have some funding or a client who wants you to run a training course for young people?

How should you begin to plan your course?  Here are some questions you might ask at an early stage…

Who are your students?

You can find out a lot about your students by asking the teachers or practitioners that work with them.  However, be careful not to accept what they say wholeheartedly, particularly if they seem to hold negative views of the young people you are going to work with.  It is a good idea to speak to the young people themselves before you begin the course if possible. To find out more about what interests them and what kind of experiences they are interested in having.

Questions you may want to ask include:

How old are they?  Are they predominantly from one ethnic community or a diverse group? What kind of abilities and experiences do they have (particularly in relation to speaking and listening, digital media production and working together? (Why) do they want to be involved? Does the teacher or practitioner have something that they would particularly like the young people to be doing/ learning?

Are there any practical problems?

Questions to consider include:

Do you have enough space at the station to deliver the training or do you need to book another location?  Do you have enough kit (eg audio recording devices, computers) and access to a studio for training purposes?  How will the young people get to the training location?

Think about time – How long will the training need to be?  What time of day will suit the students?

Is recruitment an issue?

Sometimes you might receive an amount of money to deliver some training to a particular group of young people, for instance, a group of young people fitting the NEET (not in education, employment or training) criteria.  It will probably be necessary to adopt a variety of recruitment strategies in order to attract the necessary numbers of young people.  You could broadcast a promo on your radio station and make flyers to put around the local area.  You could use facebook, twitter, your website and other media channels to spread the information.  You might need to partner up with a local jobcentreplus or another community group in your area who work with young people.

How will you ensure that you retain the trainees for the whole course?

Keeping young people interested and turning up to all sessions can be difficult.  Young people are often busy at school and have other hobbies and responsibilities.  Sometimes it might be necessary to be flexible with young people however it is also important to be clear about expectations regarding attendance are at the beginning of the course.

Many practitioners involved in this kind of work have suggested that it is important to keep the training as practical as possible.  Trainers should be careful not to talk too much.  Young people are more likely to keep coming back if you give them responsibility and a stake in what they are doing, for instance by involving them in decisions that are made.

How will you include current volunteers or others as mentors?

Course planning is often a collaborative effort and you will need to work closely with the school, college, youth group or funding body to establish the answers to the questions above and to think about the content of the course.

Course planning process

Once you have identified your learners, recruited them and considered practical issues you are ready to start planning your course content.

  1. Aims and Learning Objectives

What are your aims for the whole course?  What is it you are hoping to achieve?  Make sure that your aims clearly represent the purpose of the course, indicate the audience for whom the course is designed, explain the rationale of the course.

Example Aims:

  • To introduce learners to the ethos of the community radio sector
  • To support learners to develop digital media production skills
  • To assist learners in developing skills to support them in finding employment and retaining a job
  • To assist learners in developing personal and social skills

What are your learning objectives/ outcomes for the whole course?

Learning objectives are what you want the students to be able to do at the end of your course.  They should include a verb, for instance – remember, understand, apply, analyse, evaluate or create.  Don’t forget that your learning objectives will include transferable skills as well as radio production skills.

Example Learning objectives:

By the end of the course students should be able to:

  • Remember the right words to use when talking about driving the desk
  • Understand how to write good links and running orders
  • Apply learning about effective team working
  • Analyse existing media output about their community
  • Understand the difference between community radio and other radio sectors.
  • Challenge the cause and effect of discrimination within their team environment
  • Carry out a radio interview – preparing appropriate questions and following regulatory guidelines

Remember

AIMS should clearly show the intentions of the teacher

LEARNING OBJECTIVES/OUTCOMES should clearly show the planned achievements of the learners

Independent learning plans?

Before devising detailed content for the course if possible have individual meetings with each participant to find out more about their expectations for the course and their abilities.  For instance, it would be useful to know if they have any previous experience of producing audio, interviewing people or working in diverse groups.  It may also be worth asking about their confidence in speaking and listening, writing and working with number.

Pre-course questionnaires/ questions

Lesson planning

Especially when you first start out as a community radio trainer/ teacher it is a good idea to spend some time planning each session that you will deliver and going into the session with a carefully worked out plan.  In general it is not a good idea to just assume you can teach a group of young people in the same way that you might approach working in one to one mode with new adult volunteers.  For one thing young people will get easily bored so keeping activities short and sweet works well.

Like course planning it is a good idea to start with the aims and learning outcomes for each session.

Each session might then include:

  • a ‘starter activity’
  • an explanation (discussing new learning or revision of last session’s content)
  • A main activity/ task (or several)
  • Additional tasks (including extension activities for those who finish quickly)

The lesson plan here gives you an idea of how to plan a session.  You can see that it includes aims and learning objectives and transferable skills but also maps on an accreditation scheme and includes reference to a workbook and coursebook.  These kind of additional materials, written before a course begins, can save you time planning each week.

A blank lesson plan pro forma is available for you to use here.