Category: Training

Training

Good Training Versus Bad Training

What’s the difference between good training and bad training? What’s the instructor’s role in the perceived success of a training session? What makes learners feel like they’ve had GREAT training? How can I, the instructor, take training from bad to good and good to great?

Take a moment and think back to training sessions you’ve attended in the past. This could be professional training, sports training, or educational training. Think about a training experience you remember as good training. What was good about it? Was it the content? Was it the environment? Was it the instructor themselves? I remember taking a class related to industrial power generation. I thought it was great training. The classroom setup was good, the course materials were good, and I understood the topics presented.

Take another moment and think about a training experience you’ve had that wasn’t so great. What was wrong with it? I recently attended training to become certified for certain first-aid tasks. I understood the skills being demonstrated and received my certification. I look back at this training as not particularly good training. The classroom was fine. The materials were fine. The subject matter was appropriate. As I think back on this training experience, I realize it was the instructor that made me feel like the training could have been better. I had another experience attending training regarding statistical based process improvement. Again, the classroom was fine. The classroom was great. There were beautiful views of Mission Bay, San Diego. The materials were fine. This time it was a combination of a poorly prepared instructor, with a topic that was irrelevant to my career that made me feel the training was no good. I was so unimpressed with the learning that I felt my time could be better spent enjoying the views of Mission Bay.

If I try to narrow my experiences down to a single key aspect, I would say it boils down to student engagement. I, the student, was not engaged with the training I perceived as bad and I was highly engaged with the training I perceived as good. I can say, this instructor KEPT me engaged.

Throughout my career as a Technical Training Instructor, I’ve had the opportunity to see for myself what keeps students engaged with the learning process. I’ve been able to try different instructional techniques across a wide variety learner profiles and personalities. I’ve learned through trial and error how to keep the students engaged with the learning process. I’ve figured out how to keep adult learners focused on the learning objectives during classes that are an entire week of eight-hour sessions. It’s been my experience when students are fully engaged with the learning process, both the learner and the instructor are excited for the journey. Student engagement enables both parties to thoroughly enjoy the experience. Eager students sitting on the edge of their seats, fully participating in the knowledge transfer, is what keeps us in the game.

It’s our goal to share these experiences so that others can benefit and continue to improve their training sessions.

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ClassroomCredibilityTrainingTraining Content

Three C’s of the Effective Training Instructor

There are no shortages of mnemonics in the training industry and we here at Planet Speaking℠ are no exception. The reason mnemonics are so popular is they work. My post on Key Takeaways describes how and why valuable morsels like this are so important to the learning environment. Planet Speaking’s “Three C’s of the Effective Training Instructor”, Credibility, Content, and Classroom, focus on student engagement and serve as the foundation of our train the trainer methodology. In this article I will give an overview of these topics, and our website’s continued articles will typically relate to one or more of these three categories.

The Three C’s of the Effective Training Instructor relate to each other in a way similar to the Buddhist philosophy of non-self or interdependence. Each of the three cannot exist on their own and require the other two in order to be effective. Without credibility, the content and classroom environment suffer. Without the right content, establishing credibility is very difficult and the classroom environment suffers. Without the right classroom environment, instructor credibility and course content are affected. One aspect cannot effectively exist without the other two having been established.

There are so many factors that make up each of our Three C’s, it would be ineffective to list them all in one article. We will define them at a high level here and expand on each of them in subsequent posts.

Credibility

Instructor credibility makes successful completion of the course objectives possible. A colleague of mine, and fellow teacher of an older train the trainer program, always says, “Without instructor credibility, it’s hard to get much accomplished in the classroom”. It’s up to the effective instructor to first establish and then maintain their credibility. Adult learners need to believe the instructor is credible or they will find it difficult to participate.

The way we dress, the words we use, the tone we take, and student perceptions are some of the more direct aspects of instructor credibility. There are many other, sometimes nuanced, factors that also contribute to the credibility equation.

Content

Course content needs to meet the needs of the enterprise, any regulatory organization, and the student. The foundation for creating course content is the learning objective. Learning objectives are so important as they describe not only the expected outcome of the training but also define the training scope. It is the instructors job to make sure the learning objectives have been successfully met.

The enterprise must first identify what training is required and ensure it is aligned with the goals of the business/organization. It’s the responsibility of upper management to put support in place by providing communication and ensuring adequate budget is in place.

Guidelines or rules established by applicable regulatory agencies will need to be reviewed by the instructional designer/s to ensure the training is adequate. Some agencies, such as IEEE, have very detailed and clearly defined guidelines. Other certification bodies, like ISO, can cover topics that are much more broad.

Let’s not forget the student! The course content needs to meet the actual needs of the training recipients. If the objective of the training is for the student to demonstrate the proper way to extinguish a fire utilizing a handheld fire extinguisher….. We’re going to need a fire!

Classroom

Classroom requirements will also be defined after the creation of good learning objectives. As a professional training instructor, I’m quite particular about the capabilities and amenities of the classroom. This isn’t meant to imply that my particulars are always met. Quite the opposite is true in many cases! Many times the instructor has little to no control over the classroom location or setup and must improvise while minimizing any impact on credibility and content.

As with the course content, the learning objectives should be the key in identifying the classroom requirements. Can the objectives be met in a conference room or is some form of training laboratory required?

Other topics that need addressing with regards to the classroom are; class size, seating arrangements, access to electrical power, lighting, and many more. The classroom atmosphere is a combination of many aspects and will need to be managed by the instructor.

Closing

Each aspect of Planet Speaking’s℠ “Three C’s of the Effective Training Instructor” is equally as important as, and dependent upon, the other. It is the intent of this site to dive deep into each of them in a sort of modular “train the trainer” format that can be consumed as required by our readers. Whether your role is as an instructor, instructional designer, public speaker, manager, or human resources professional, we hope to provide valuable content to help you meet your training needs. As is true with our instruction, your feedback is a critical part of this endeavor and is always greatly appreciated.