The importance of Professional Development (PD) or Training should not be ignored and should definitely be a big consideration when you are looking to deploy Interactive Flat Panels throughout your school district. At TouchIT Technologies it is a huge thing for us and something that we take very seriously. We also actively encourage our larger roll outs to work with us on a professional development plan. This can encompass both the in classroom training aspect, but we can also advise on things like software deployment strategies and hardware maintenance.
Lets start with some myths about training;
- After the session you will know everything
- "One and Done" is certainly not the case
- It's easy
- It's not required
- I'll be a pro after an hour
- One size fits all
I could probably go on and on with the "myths" about training but I want to focus on what we do as a company and what we think we actually do pretty well.
Make it fun
There is nothing worse than turning up to a training session and dreading it, or worse still, an hour in looking at the clock thinking "I've got another 5 hours of this to go...." Making the session fun really comes down to the personality of the training and the way that they interact with the group. The old saying if you enjoy doing something, its not a chore and you will get more out of it (i'm sure it went something like that but the exact words escape me). This is definitely true with our PD sessions. The more the group enjoys it the more they get out of it.
Make It Worthwhile
It has to be worthwhile otherwise what is the point. Just having PD for the sake of it is a total waste of time. Your attendees must get something out of the session that they are spending several hours of their life attending. More importantly, if you have 20 people in a room, these people are off timetable. That means that there is some form of cover involved and that costs money. Whether you have been charged for the session by your manufacturer or not, the fact remains that cover will be required and this isn't cheap so it is so important that the session is worthwhile.
When I run a session, I like to start with the goals that people have for the day and what they want to leave with knowing at the end of the session. I then tend to go round the room and have them tell me the 1 thing that is on their list that they must not leave without knowing. Defining and and achieving the goals - one way to make the session worthwhile.
Make it Interactive
Talking at a group of people and certainly in education where you are talking at a bunch of teachers that spend more time than you talking at people, is not the way to structure a session. I look to break my session up with lots of individual and group activities. This also makes things fun and interactive. It creates more questions and in turn, back to the point above, the attendees get more out of the session and it makes it more worthwhile.
Set the Scene in Advance
When I have a large group session in a district or school I like to send them a couple of emails in advance kind of laying down my expectations. Less of a demand letter and more of a shove in the right direction, I like to encourage the group to have a think what they want to get out of the session, perhaps take the online training courses that we have available to help them with their base knowledge.
Sessions shouldn't be thrown together and your trainer should not be "winging it!". A customer of mine who shall remain nameless loves all these different kinds of sayings and the one that always sticks in my head the "5 Ps" Preparation Prevents P+++ Poor Performance and he is totally right when it comes to a) preparing to give a training session and b) attending a training session. If you arrive prepared as both the trainer and the attendee - you will get a lot more about the session.
Training comes in different forms
At TouchIT Technologies, we offer training in all shapes and forms. We have a very extensive set of online materials from FAQs to Video Tutorials, to out Online Email Training - all of which can help give you a real base knowledge of the product and software. We then come in and do a live session in the classroom to help solidify the knowledge.
I'm going to finish this blog post with the though that training doesn't stop after the first session. Software is always changing and developing as too is the hardware. Regular sessions are important to keep the knowledge up of the staff and users of the products and software.
Its not cheap kit, so you need to make the most out of it and that is where PD comes in.
Food for thought i'm sure.