What I’d like to do, but can’t …


Now I know what you’re thinking.  Those are the words of a whiner, but I’m stating a fact and not trying to make excuses.  Honest.  There’s only one of me, and I don’t have a time-turner, like the one Dumbledore gave Hermione in The Prisoner of Azkaban.

Last week, I expressed my coulda-woulda-shouldas with respect to a piece of computer-based training.  What I’m talking about this week is part of the same training beast.  The virtually-delivered piece.

In my role as training coordinator, it’s not my task to deliver the training or to design it, and though I am training this week, it’s because I’ve no choice in the matter.  If I didn’t step in, the project would have stalled, possibly fatally.

Even as a trainer though, I’m a total n00b.  I’ve only been a trainer for three years, and though I enjoy it, and believe I’m good at it, I know I have a lot to learn and am far from perfect.  I’m even greener with respect to instructional design.  I only started doing that last year.

But if I can think of a better way to design and deliver training, then it must need improvement.

I have to step back a bit and explain a couple of things before I get to the meat of the post.

About a month ago, the task of organizing the training of all staff in Ontario on a new initiative was assigned to me.  The training products were given to the two consultants who agreed to deliver the training.  I had two weeks to get everything together, the training schedule, WebEx meetings, and invitations.  I didn’t have time to read, let alone critique or redesign the course material for virtual delivery.

So now we’re into week three of the WebEx sessions and I’ve just started my week of training.  Already, I’ve received reports back on how boring the session is.  It wasn’t designed with virtual delivery in mind.  On average, the sessions are running two hours, which is too long to sit in front of your computer, staring at a screen.

What I’d do for this course (if I could):

  • There is a policy bulletin for the new initiative and a Job Aid.  Though technically, this was all supposed to be a “pre-read,” I’d like to have had the time to turn it into a true pre-course assignment with some form of assessment, submitted to the trainers in advance, so they could have some indication of the group’s level of understanding of the new initiative prior to the course.
  • Start with an activity reviewing the four aspects of their job that this new initiative will change and conduct a proper debrief.
  • Have the exercises on a PowerPoint or Notebook presentation with answers on a reveal.  Use the annotate feature in WebEx to have participants complete the blank assignments (one “scribe” with group support) and debrief using the revealed answers.
  • Let the participants “play” with the online tool designed to help them implement the new initiative by assigning them control of the application through WebEx.  Alternately, this could be a post-course assignment to assist with skill transfer.

Now of course, all of this would make the session considerably longer and comfort breaks would have to be worked in, or the session broken up into smaller pieces (four 30 minute sessions would be my preference).

Why none of this could happen:

This is our busiest time of year, compounded by summer leave.  The timing of this new initiative couldn’t be worse.  As a result, we had to fight for the time to do the one-cheeked job we’re doing.

The initiative will be effective in August.  The training had to be completed before then.

There simply wasn’t time to roll this out differently given the tools and the resources we have.

This is why I often wish I was Shakti, one of the Hindu goddesses of multiple aspects and multiple arms 🙂  Then I might really be able to be in two places at once, doing two (or even three) jobs.  The word “shak” in Sanskrit means “to be able.”

Ah well, so much for dreaming 🙂

Timing is everything, they say.  Have you had a situation in which you’ve been “under the gun” with respect to training?  Were you able to pull a rabbit out of your hat or did you have to make do?  Is good enough really good enough?

That’s all from the Learning Mutt this week.

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