Welcome to SessionLab, the dynamic way to design your workshop and collaborate with your co-facilitators!
In this article, you will get an overview of how SessionLab helps you designing workshop, training and meeting agendas by using the Session Planner tool and the SessionLab public library of facilitation methods.
The application consists of 3 main areas:
- Dashboard – this is your ‘Home’ page, from where you can access all your session plans
- Session Planner tool – the tool that allows you to easily design your session plans
- Library – a knowledge base full of useful facilitation methods that you can browse and add relevant methods to your session plans
Session plans are the core of SessionLab: Each session represents a workshop, training or meeting agenda, where reusable blocks represent each module of your sessions and colour-coded categories help you to get a quick overview of the interaction and style of your session.
You can easily rearrange your session plan, just drag-and-drop your modules and your timing stays correct. When you create a block in SessionLab, the block becomes searchable and reusable in any other sessions on your workspace.
You can create a session from your dashboard by clicking on the New session button. When you click on the ‘New session button’, an empty new session will appear in a new tab in your browser, and you can start working on your workshop agenda in the Session Planner tool.
Alternatively, you are also able to Duplicate sessions from your dashboard. As a free user, you are able to duplicate your own sessions, while as a Team user you can duplicate any session from your team workspace.
When you create a new session, you start with a blank canvas.
This the Session Planner tool that has 3 main areas:
- Middle: the actual agenda where you will see the blocks of your agenda
- Right side panel: You can change the functionality of this in the left side menu between:
- Notes: add notes and use it as a parking lot to pull there your unused blocks
- Search: find blocks and add them to your agenda from other sessions or in from the library
- Comments: Read and respond to comments of your collaborators. Comments can be made to a specific block or to the session in general
- Attachments: Get an overview of files attached to all blocks of the session
- Block details: You might add more detailed instruction for certain blocks that are less practical to have in the table view of the agenda, and more suitable in a separate view. You can also specify here the Goals and Materials you need for the block and attach files
- Activity log: See what have your collaborators changed while you were away
- Collaborators: Invite people to work with you or to review your session
- Info: See the basic information about the session, such as dates, client and description. You may adjust here the colour coded category tags.
- Left sidebar: Gives you an overview of your session with the colour coding you have set up proportional to your timing.
As your session built of from ‘blocks’ in SessionLab, the first step when you have an empty session is to create your first session blocks. You can do this by clicking on the ‘Create block’ button:
Create a block in SessionLab
Besides creating new modules (blocks) in your sessions, you can also reuse existing blocks both from your other sessions or from the library if you use the Search panel on the right side. See more examples and illustration in this article about how to find and reuse blocks.
The block you created then can be filled up with description and timing. You can easily change the timing of your session blocks, and your overall length of your session plan gets automatically recalculated.
If you need to set a specific starting time for any of your block (e.g. for the first block of the session, or for a lunch break), then you can lock the starting time for any of your session blocks) by clicking on the lock icon next to the block’s starting time.
The colour coded categories help you to get an easy overview of the style and interaction mix of your session. You can assign interaction categories to your blocks, and the left sidebar will show the colour coding together with a proportional time overview. If you want, you can modify the default categories that you can see below.
One of the essential features in the Session Planner tool is that you can easily move your blocks around in the agenda by simply dragging and dropping them to the right place.
Similarly, if you think that a certain block should be removed from the agenda but you are not yet sure that you want to delete it permanently, you can just drag it to the Notes area on the right side to park it. When you do so, your timing will get automatically updated, since the blocks in the Notes area do not count towards the overall time of your agenda. If you want the blocks in Notes area to be used again in your session plan, just drag them back to the middle area into your agenda.
If you have several blocks that should belong together – e.g. because they are related to some topic and they should be applied after each other in your session – you are able to group blocks together. The benefit of doing this is that you can drag and drop groups and such case you can easily move around a whole group of blocks in your agenda. Additionally, you can also find and reuse whole group of blocks when you search for content in other sessions.
You can create groups by clicking on the ‘Create group’ icon or by clicking on the small group icon on the upper or lower edge of a block.
After you created an empty group, you just need to drag your blocks into the group.
You can delete a block or group by clicking in the upper right corner of the block and selecting the Delete option. Please mind, if you delete a group, then all the blocks with the group will also get deleted:
The main middle area of the Session Planner tools display the timing, colour-coding and two text fields (Description and Additional information) for each block, however, there is more place to add detailed information about your blocks if you want to record specific goals, list materials needed, or add longer instructions to your blocks. You can find the Block details view if you click on the ‘…’ icon on the right side menu, or on the same icon in the upper right corner of your blocks.
The information you add to the Block details section will also appear on the printouts in the detailed view and with some customisation options in the PDF and Word printout table view. (You can find more about it in the specific support article about PDF and Word exports).
Beyond registering more specific, and occasionally longer information that you might not want to have crammed into the two main columns in the middle table view, one of the great benefits of the Block details is to record the materials you need for your sessions. If you add items to the bullet-pointed list of the materials section for your blocks, then you will be able to find a summary of all the materials you added to you session under the Session Info tab of the right side panel.
The Session Planner tool allows you to attach files to any blocks in your session plan. You can do it by navigating to the Block details view for the block you want to attach to (by clicking on the ‘…’ icon on the block), and then you can select between 4 options how to attach:
- Attach from your computer (uploading directly to SessionLab)
- Attach from Google Drive (linking the file to your session plan from your Google Drive account)
- Attach from Dropbox (linking the file to your session plan from your Dropbox account)
- Attach from Office 365 (likely the file to your session plan from your Office 365 / Sharepoint account)
When you upload a file to a block, then attachment will stay associated with that block if you move or copy that block within the same session or even to other sessions, until you remove the attachment from the block.
In case you upload a file from your computer, then it will be uploaded to SessionLab’s servers, while if you upload Google Drive or Dropbox, then only a link will be created. So in this latter case, the file will not be stored within SessionLab, and any change you make to the attachment within your Google Drive or Dropbox account will be reflected in the file you uploaded.
Currently, there is no option yet to add an attachment to a session in general, you can only attach files to specific blocks. If you attach any files to a session plan, you can get an overview of all attachments if you change the right side panel to the Attachments tab.
On the same tab, you can find a Download all button that will create a zip file with all files attached to your session, in case you want to download your attachments. Please keep in mind that this zip file will only contain the files that you uploaded to SessionLab from your computer, and not the files that you linked via Google Drive or Dropbox.
SessionLab allows you to add comments and have a conversation with your collaborators via replying to comments. There are two types of comments you can make: Either commenting directly on a block (when you initiate the comment by clicking on the Comment icon on a block) or in general on the whole session without relating the comment to a certain block.
You can also reply to a comment made on your session and resolve the comment threads you initiated.
By default, collaborators receive an hourly digest email of the comments made on their sessions. This notification may be turned off for each user at their account settings.
SessionLab allows you to share your session plans with other users and collaborate real-time or asynchronously on workshop or training plans. Find out more about the various collaboration and co-editing features in this article.
You may choose to export your session plans in PDF or in Word format, the latter option available in Pro or Team subscriptions. Besides getting a printout of your session plan, you can also download all attachments of your session in one batched zip file.
More to come soon… – Until that you can find here an overview of the new dashboard we introduced in the end of 2017
More to come soon… Until then please refer to the detailed library overview documentation.
Every SessionLab user has access to a Personal workspace by default. Imagine the workspace as a root folder that contains all the sessions and library resources you create in the application.
When you are added to a team as a team member, then you also get access to the workspace of that Team (i.e. you get access to one more root folder that contains all the sessions and library resources of that Team.)
When someone is invited to a team, the person also gets access to the workspace of the Team. This way a team member can see every session belonging to the team.
When you create a new session, the session will get created at the workspace (and sub-folder) where you were located on your dashboard when pressing the New session button.
If you are in the Recent view when creating a session, then it will be created on your Personal workspace if you are not a member of any team, but if you are a member of a team, then the session is getting created under the Team’s workspace.
In terms of access rights, all content on your Personal workspace is visible only to you by default (until you don’t share specific sessions with other users), and all content on your Team workspace is visible with viewer rights to all members of the team.