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Throw mud at me and see how much sticks!…but don’t call it training!

Posted by Louise Barnfield on March 6, 2009


muddy pig @ www.designedtoat.comWill folks out there please, please stop abusing the word ‘training’!

Firstly, let’s clarify the definition of training, courtesy of Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary:

Train, verb:…
- to teach so as to make fit, qualified, or proficient

-
to make prepared (as by exercise) for a test of skill

There have been times when I’ve had to sit through rushed, unimaginative, uninspiring, fact-crammed hours of death by powerpoint. I have listened and watched as some, admittedly well-intentioned, individuals raced through a stream of slides, reading the bullets word-for-word, with a few examples thrown in verbally for good measure, and the promise that the slides will be posted somewhere — of course, I can never for the life of me remember where!

As a result, I feel neither fit, qualified, proficient nor prepared!

I’m sorry to shout, but that’s not training! That’s a data dump; that’s information overload. It may well be necessary information, but when delivered as a stream of consciousness it renders the audience unconscious, if not comatose!

I’m not averse to receiving such information in ad hoc online sessions. I’m a realist! I recognize that, in any demanding environment, the temptation is to roll out information, links, and instructions in the quickest and most efficient (note, I did not say effective!) way possible, but please don’t insult my intelligence – and, more importantly, the intelligence of anyone with teaching experience or qualifications – by calling it training.

I understand that individuals in these situations are given a thankless task and are often carrying it out to the best of their abilities (given that they are not ‘trainers’) – I just want the powers-that-be who constantly send out the stock announcements to such sessions to stop calling it training!

I know I can’t halt the trend of spewing out information in this way, because it’s quick and easy to deliver, but it simply results in the content being poorly digested… the end result is that the audience kinda, sorta gets a grasp that there are a lot of things they should know about, some things they should do, and certain things they should not do, but they can’t quite remember which is which, or where to go next to fill in the gaps. It has not helped to make them prepared nor proficient enough to carry out the task. That’s not training!

So if it’s not training, what can we call it?
Answers on a postcard please, and thank you for your indulgence!


4 Responses to “Throw mud at me and see how much sticks!…but don’t call it training!”

  1. I’d say this just about sums up 90%+ of the ‘training’ out there, even from the supposed best education centers! Spot on!

  2. Louise, I have the link to the slides from yesterday’s “Process Training Rollout” if you need them. ;)

    As for a name – I’d call it Overview? Highlights? Introduction?

  3. Hey Louise, I feel your pain from having sat through my fair share of death by PowerPoints or data dumps that were a complete waste of time. I am seeing more online training resulting from the recession, which can actually be worse than a data dump in person.

    What trainers seem to forget is that we need to be engaged, not talked at. I want to learn from my peers as well as the instructor. I want to hear from the folks who created the technology or policy that is being taught to me. In actuality, I’m of the opinion that many trainers would do better if they became facilitators of dialog between me, my peers, and the subject matter experts.

    The best format I’ve seen is a four-step process for online training sometimes called “Learn, Think, Do, Share.” It’s were you start with the lesson (something other than a dry PowerPoint please). Once the main concepts have been discussed, the “Think” step is where you take an assessment (not test) that asks you how you would apply the new knowledge in the real world. The “Do” step is where you actually go out and try using the new knowledge. The step I like most is the “Share” step where you come back and share your experience with our peers online (using social media tools). I frequently learn much more from my peer’s experience (good and bad) and from the subject matter experts.

  4. Klaus Borho said

    Great post Louise. It’s so true, this has become to common in corporations, to dump information and call it training.

    Engagement always comes up, how to engage people and have fun with training. How about dialog, collaboration and feedback, instead of monolog?

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