Re: Tech Trainer

Subject: Re: Tech Trainer
From: "John McDermott" <jjm -at- jkintl -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Thu, 08 Mar 2007 12:59:20 -0700

> I was briefly on an instructional design list. A lot of folks with
> .edu on their email addresses. There was a huge gap in the issues
> corporate and tech trainers were facing and the responses the .edu folks
> gave to questions. It's great to be working on the latest research in
> Instructional Design, but the average tech trainer is in a different
> position.

Yes indeed it is. There are slso issues of Instructional Design (ID) vs.

> For example, much pontificating on the different styles of learning and
> the importance of addressing individual styles in education development.
> Fine in an academic atmosphere. In the corporate training world you
> struggle to get funding for any training development. I've

While I struggle to get funding (especially since I am a "freelancer" more
or less), proper instructional design is a critical part of my job. I try
very hard to make design for individual learning styles an essential part
of every course I design and every course I deliver.

> never heard of anyone in the real training world getting funding to do
> multiple versions of a training module to address different learning
> styles.

I have seen it, but it is rare. Instead, different modules are primarily
designed for different styles. So for example, we have some exercises that
are hands-on with the computer, some that are group discussions, and some
that are paper and pencil. We have information presented by "lecture",
reading and other means.

> The trainers would ask things like "I have an older fellow who is
> having a hard time, should I focus on supplying him with more complete
> written documentation?"

When I desing training, I try to include at least references to more
complete documentation so those who prefer to read can do so. I find, by
the way, that age is seldom an issue in learning style preferences.
Sometimes younger participants prefer audio or video to reading, but that
is by no means universal in my experience. I has been a challenge to
include "new media" when there are those that prefer to read (often
because they can read quickly and find listening to "slow" audio
ineffecient), for instance.

> You'd get a response about how you should know the Gardner theory or
> the concept of multiple intelligences when designing your training. Or a

Yes: multiple intelligences are a critical part of training design.

> big long rant on how paper is becoming obsolete for the computer user of
> the future so written documentation is on the verge of disappearing.

It may be. I have been looking at that issue in the corporate training
world. Paper is mostly preferred by managers and by those who see it as an
easy "solution" to rights management. As I do training design, I do still
use paper, but consider other modes a lot.

> Neither answer solves the immediate problem.

What then is the problem in your case? For me it is maximizing retention
while trying to cover the expected volume of material. Both learning
styles and delivery modes are major concerns for that problem.

> Interesting stuff, but someone in a tech training position has to work
> within a tight budget, meet tight deadlines, and get the workers
> functioning as quickly as possible. We also struggle to show companies
> that there is a return on the investment of training dollars. It is a
> very different world than the academic community.

While you are correct, it is important in the academic community. Folks
discuss reducing the (US) standard four-year degree to three because
students are impatient to graduate. They face the same issues, often just
in different guises (I have taught at a university, BTW). When the
corporate traning budget is tight, effeciency is the name of the game.
Designing to all learning styles is a way to help the learners be
effecient, while making it easier to show ROI. Good stuff.


John McDermott, CPLP, CCP
Writer, Educator, Consultant
jjm at
V: +1 505/377-6293 F: +1 505/377-6313


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