Too often it has been my experience when requesting a consultant/trainer's lesson plans for disaster recovery, I have received little more than an agenda and hardcopy of the overhead transparencies. I don't know if this is a sign of insecurity or lack of coursework in the field of education. Regardless, it becomes my work to construct viable instruction from my notes and a good deal of research.
Clearly written lesson plans are key to solid, well-presented disaster recovery training. Poor presentations, incomplete training, or training that delivers incorrect information can impede actual recovery efforts. A rehearsed program for your staff, based upon a "Trainer's Guide" comprised of succinct and accurate lesson plans covering specific areas of information, conveys the structure for organized recovery work.
Basically it is instruction to the instructor. It contains five main pieces of information:
1) Length of presentation.
2) Specific objectives.
3) Materials required.
4) How to implement the plan.
5) Assessment .
For most training programs, several lesson plans complete a "Trainer's Guide" (see example sidebar) on page 75.
Research: Realize that you are never going to be a disaster recovery expert because, as in other fields, knowledge and tools change. You do want to keep as aware as possible and maintain current resources. Don't limit yourself to libraries. Contact FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency), the American Red Cross, the National Guard, local fire and police, and area vendors who provide recovery services and get some input.
Subscribe to periodicals that feature information on disaster recovery or business continuity or contingency planning. Read, highlight, and catalog good ideas and advice that can be utilized in your training.
Get on the Internet and explore the disaster recovery industry. Apply for membership in any local business recovery planning associations and attend the meetings.
Remember your purpose: the instruction you are preparing is directed at the instructor.
Notes: Human memory is not our strong suit. Your research work should be, by whatever recording method that works best for you, cataloged for easy access and modifications. These notes are developed into lesson plans.
Whether you are charting a presentation or simply conversing, make accurate notes. Don't even attempt to tax your limited memory with the "W" questions, you will only get confused. Clear accurate notes will progress a clear and direct lesson plan.
Think of yourself as the "investigative reporter". It is your job to gather the best and most appropriate Disaster Recovery detail. You represent what the classroom participants want to know, and clear documentation facilitates the presentation.
Partition your notes by lesson objectives. For example: notes covering vendors go in one pile while notes covering backup tapes go in another. You can almost "see" the time required to present certain lesson plans. It is from this writing that you build a focused course outline and content.
Your outline structures the flow of the lesson plan objectives; it schedules the presentation. However, you must remember that no outline is definitive. As knowledge, venues, and materials change, you must maintain the flexibility to rearrange and revise.
The outline notates the sequence of the content and provides an index of the major points addressed. It is easier to work from something concrete than to rely upon memorization. "Draw yourself a map!" was the mantra my writing professor incanted when he discussed outlining. A clear outline provides direction, focus, and purpose, and content development is greatly facilitated.
Once you have given this order to your notes, each lesson plan becomes an exercise of procedural writing. Be clear, direct, and make sure you adequately cover the objectives. Remember that your audience is the instructor, not the classroom participants.
This is a brief observation of a key element that can determine the continuing success of your training program. Formats, fonts, clip art, and writing styles are individual choices, what should not be undervalued is the end product.
What should be regarded as a vital aspect of any disaster recovery training program is seldom addressed. What if you develop training, conduct staff seminars, but fail to produce clear documentation for future trainers? Too many trainers too often must begin anew, and this situation, in the world of business continuity, can be scary.
Terry Sexton is Business Systems Training Coordinator for MANPOWER Inc.