Dont’ start here, you missed all the juicy stuff, go back to Part 1 or Part 2.


Ok wrap it up- and yes it’s been a long one.

My background is Project Management, so I’m going to explain it using some project speak.

Very shortly: there are 2 ways to estimate duration:

Absolute: a specific time interval is provided- such as the training will take 12 days.

Relative: a comparative estimate is generated based upon past experience; for example Sarah will be able to complete the course twice as fast as Sam.

As humans we basically suck at generating absolute estimations and you’ll find we in fact use relative estimates based upon our past experiences- and with enough experience we’re pretty good at those.

So now consider your answers in both Part 1 and Part 2.

Were they conclusive (absolute) or did you use a point of reference.

No marks- If they were absolute.  Everyone is different and will learn at a different pace.

Part marks go to those who stated that Sarah could just RPL, Sam would take an intensive course and Amy- well bless, we should really think about Amy’s ability to meet the underpinning language, literacy and numeracy requirements of the qualification prior to even enrolling her.  If believed to be achievable maybe a program of longer duration.

Full marks. To those who stated, “as long as is needed to be able to provided demonstrated evidence against all of the criteria” or something less wanky.

A good way to construct a program is to identify your target market and base the duration on the average duration they would require to absorb the key parts.  Remembering that training is not limited to the workshop, make an allowance to assist those who may require additional time outside the workshop, this can be through one one one coaching, small groups or even setting activities for them to complete in their workplaces.  These strategies will allow for you as a trainer to focus on the critical parts of your content and support your other learners on a needs basis.

So in short, at the end of a long article, the duration of training should be relative to the gaps between your learners and the outcomes required.  In this education model if someone is already working at an acceptable level- work with them to gather the evidence to achieve the qualification, don’t put them in the class with Amy- someone will get angry.


What are some of your strategies used to determine the duration of your sessions?

2 Responses to How long should a training course be? (Part 3 of 3)
  1. I guess our sessions are planned by management, so I have little involvement. As the trainer ( i do mainly Management courses) I find that a lot of our content is repeat and kind of feels drawn out to fill in time, but then with a different learner group it seems just the right amount of time. I don’t think you can ever win. So no strategies but happy to hear some ways to help me out.

    BTW I feel like a traitor to my RTO, but keep up the good work, I actually use your project management templates and articles in some of my courses.

    • Hey Marty,

      Not a traitor, i think its great for lecturers from different RTO’s to collaborate, otherwise people get boxed in organisational ways and tend to operate with a narrow focus. I’m glad you like the PM templates if you need anything specific do let me know. Also a quick suggestion for your problem of having to draw out your training, and this may not work for all your clients and learners, but let them go home! I think as trainers we feel a need to “milk the clock” and ensure we are keeping the participants in their chairs until the bell rings…. People learn at different rates, so if you have an advanced group, you could either go deeper into the content, start on the assessments, or release them back to work/play etc. At the end of the day provide the options and give them the choice.

      Thanks for your comment


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