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Making a Case for Face-to-Face Classroom Training

September 11, 2013 Leave a comment

As a technologist, I believe it is vital to continue to develop my skills and competencies through formal and on-the-job experiences.  As a technology manager, I strive to cultivate an atmosphere where my team recognizes the value of developing their skills and expertise.  As a leader within a technology trade association, I’ve heard various perspectives identifying that opportunities to network with peers and acquiring professional certifications are strong motivators for association participation.

However in recent years, I’ve found it difficult to find appropriate classroom training programs catered to technology professionals.  In the last six months, almost half my staff have encountered a situation where an off-site technology class has been canceled because not enough people signed up for the course.  More recently, I purchases a new network access control system that included a training component.  To my surprise the training was only available online.

I maybe showing my age, but I have a certain bias toward structured, off-site, classroom training.  In my opinion, these types of situations offer tremendous value for technologist.  I will concede only a small portion of the value emanates from the trainer leading the course.  The majority of the value comes from the other attendees who are participating in the course.  Listening to the stories of others, who often have a different experience with a vast array of products and technologies, makes up for any lost time or workload disruption.  In my limited experience with online training setups, this interaction with other classmates Is a deterrent.  Wikis, knowledge bases, Google searches, and YouTube videos have the potential to pass on technical information, but fail to capture the perspectives and experiences of a classroom full of technologists whose experiences, observations, and  opinions typically differ considerably from my own.

So where does a technologist find this melting pot of valuable knowledge in a market that is moving away from my preferred method of knowledge transfer?  Even if I can find classroom style training options, more often than not, they fail to sell sufficient seats to justify the expense of hosting a course.  Is this an opportunity for trade associations to revise their stance on vendor agnostic requirements, and begin pursing the finite training allowance with manufacture and product specific courses which incorporate some level of certification or professional development credit?  Or should technologists resign themselves to the realization that with newer delivery methods,  they will have to find another source to listen to the war stories from colleagues?