A true training ambush story

Your training contract does not include the information the students want covered in class. What do you do? A TechRepublic reader shares a real-life training ambush story.

“On day three of a four-day training class, I was asked to alter my approach and concentrate more on the NetWare administration and application of design to the current system, a topic that was neither on the syllabus nor covered under the training contract.” Do these words sound familiar? They are all too familiar for TechRepublic reader Blair Christensen, MCP, CAN.

TechRepublic contributor Bob Potemski recently published an article titled “Turn a training ambush into a classroom success ,” in which he discussed ways to help trainers prevent an ambush from becoming a crisis in the classroom. Blair identified immediately with this common problem and sent us this ambush story via e-mail.

Blair’s ambush story
“In response to your request for ‘training ambush’ stories, I would like to add the following and ask for advice. I learned a great deal from the experience and found the note card example your article provided particularly appropriate for my next training experience.

“I had been contracted to teach a small group (four to six people) of inexperienced computer users…how to troubleshoot PCs on a Novell Network and provide basics to NetWare 5.0 Administration. The class had a defined syllabus that described the day-by-day instruction, which covered hardware basics, software basics, networking basics, and NetWare administration basics. On the third day of four in the training, I was asked to alter my approach and concentrate more on the NetWare administration and application of design to the current system.

“After a little fast thinking and thanks to the prior preparation of a server that was built to work with standard Novell training manuals, I was able to re-engineer the class to include far more of the NetWare side of things than had been agreed upon. I also instituted some games and, for a period, turned the class over to the new administrator-in-training so that he could discuss areas of the business he wanted to improve. I mediated the discussion by helping the class focus on goals and setting time limits to address problems and design enhancements, while at the same time provided them with the tradeoffs to particular designs and changes.

“All in all, the class was a success, but I was caught off-guard by the sudden change in the course’s emphasis, which had obviously been communicated to the employees more than to me. For the next class, I will definitely use the note card trick mentioned to make sure that I address individual issues—as long as they remain within the context of the class and contract. The employees’ evaluations of my course also mentioned that additional topics (not covered in the class) should be included. Just another example of how management can define and approve course material but not communicate that information to the students (even with a printed syllabus).”
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