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What is Training?



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September 21, 2010 4:36 pm

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Recently, I was asked how we define “training.” With my educational background (MS in Instructional Technology) and years of experience at Novell (12), I immediately started to formulate a complex, multi-part answer. But before I could put it into words, the person who asked the question suggested a simple answer, “Training is getting answers to questions.”

The more I think about it the more I think this definition is right on. It’s simple, but not an over simplification. (And you don’t need a degree to come up with it.) I have developed dozens of courses over the years and my approach has always been to make sure the content answered certain questions: what is this product? what does it do? how does it work? how is this task or procedure done? when and why would I select this or that option?

My approach was to make sure the courses I developed answered questions, pure and simple. If that is the goal for course development, then the goal of the person getting trained could and should very well be to get answers to questions.

But are courses the only way to get answers to questions? Is the classroom the only place to get trained?

When I first started at Novell, the default mode for technical training on Novell products was a certification course taught live at a Novell Authorized Education Center. A lot has changed in these 12 years. Though live classroom training seems to be the preferred method, it is no longer the default mode. The market for IT professionals has changed in more ways than I want to go into here. But the fact is that training needs are more varied and complex than they ever were. And it’s harder for the classroom-based delivery model to meet those needs. It’s harder for students to afford those classes that do meet their needs.

So how do you get trained nowadays? How do you get answers to your questions? The most popular training events that serve as alternatives to the live classroom are, 1) Virtual classroom events that are run online, and 2) Elearning courseware that you can access anytime you want. How do you get your questions answered when you use these delivery methods? In the live classroom, you can ask and get answers to questions in a very open environment. The instructor, or even other students, would be able to answer most of your questions. You’re there live and the communication channel is wide open. But in these alternatives the communication channel is much more narrow. It’s harder to get answers to questions.

The main reason I decided to start blogging about training is because we are transitioning our approach to course development and delivery to make it so our learners can get their questions answered through the new ways they are getting trained. We know that people expect to find answers in many different places; wikis, videos on YouTube, forums, blogs, Google searches, etc. I want to use this blog as a vehicle to talk about what we are doing. But it would be nice to know more about what our learners are doing. What are your thoughts on training? What are the most effective ways you get answers to your questions?

Feel free to comment on my blog posts or to send me messages.

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