In just over a month, I’ll have an opportunity to speak at Learnapalooza, a super-fun annual conference in Seattle that features a wide variety of learning blocks – from speed learning sessions and demos to breakout sessions to keynotes from some of the most important L&D voices found in the Pacific Northwest.
The theme of the conference is superheroes and my session will revolve around three superheroes in the world of instructional design.
One of those superheroes is a tool called SessionLab.
What is it?
SessionLab is an online lesson planning platform that allows you to break your content into chunks and outline a presentation, organizing it into various time blocks. It also has a library of over 500 activities for you to sift through and integrate into your session.
How does it work?
Plans range from free to $70/month depending on the features you’d like to use. There is a 15-day free trial for all plans.
With the most robust plan, you can create your own content and collaborate with other team members in order to build something together. The online presentation builder looks like this:
- Super intuitive interface. The interface is super intuitive and honestly, it’s fun to use. Almost too fun. I wanted to keep adding content just because it was fun to add time blocks. For those who need some help getting started, there are screen tutorials to walk you through some of the most important features.
- Library with over 500 activities. If you have writer’s block, need some inspiration to get started or if you’re just feeling lazy, there are over 500 activity ideas available for you to integrate into your session.
- Easy to re-arrange content. If you’re anything like I am, you’ll find that you’ll want to shift your ideas around when you’re halfway through your lesson plan. The opening idea you thought would be a great way to kick off your session may turn out to be a better activity coming out of your morning break. With this interface, it’s easy to drag content to another spot in your session and drop it into the appropriate space.
- Two or three or four heads are better than one. With one of the premium packages, you have the opportunity to collaborate with various teammates in creating a session.
- Easy to export your final plan. If you prefer to have a hard copy of your lesson plan in front of you, the free version will allow you to export your plan to a pdf file while the paid versions allow you to export to Word with the click of a button.
- Super intuitive interface. The interface is super intuitive and honestly, it’s fun to use. Almost too fun. While this is a pro, it’s also a con. For anyone who doesn’t think to begin with learning objectives to be sure their presentation is focused and targeted, it’s easy to put together a well-organized-yet-meandering presentation.
- Library with over 500 activities. Again, one of the biggest pros is also one of the biggest cons. Though there is a filter feature, 500+ activities is a very big library of content to sift through. The size of the library almost makes this pre-populated content too intimidating.
- Interactivity and engagement are not guaranteed. This is a great tool for experienced presenters who are looking to keep their sessions organized. For best results using SessionLab, you still kind of need to know what you’re doing to create an engaging session. It would be very easy for someone to use SessionLab to simply organize their boring lecture by breaking it up into smaller blocks of time.
If you already know the ingredients for a highly engaging presentation, SessionLab offers an empty vessel for you to easily fill without having to worry about trying to keep your thoughts organized in a random Word doc (or worse, without you trying to organize a presentation by opening PowerPoint and just adding slide after slide). The tool has done all the prep work for you. All you need to do is fill in the blanks!
Have you tried using SessionLab? What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section!
If you’re in the Seattle-area, consider participating in Learnapalooza! I’d love to connect with you (and if you come to my session, you may even walk away with a brand new t-shirt!). For your easy reference, here’s the registration page!