Continuing professional development takes many forms. The opportunity to take a class at a training centre, or have a trainer visit you, is an ideal option, with the least desirable being given a PDF to read in your spare time.
All good training should focus on the continual assessment of learning. A challenge for training courses is their compressed nature. A training day may need to cover an ambitious range to topics, making assessment hard. A trainer might have to ask closed questions such as, ‘Do you understand?’, though what is the criteria for answering ‘Yes’? Saying yes to a series of learning points does not sum up the holistic knowledge of a subject.
Using good trainers is essential for a positive learning experience. Trainers should challenge delegates to demonstrate their understanding. ‘Do you understand?’ should be followed by delegates completing tasks. Great trainers will make this assessment process engaging, and perhaps fun. The opportunity to closely observe and ask questions is central to class-based learning; and it is a two-way process. Delegates should be able to ask probing questions to further their knowledge, and a good trainer should know the answers such questions; if those answers fall within the course description. Great trainers may not have all the answers to hand but should be able to point delegates to suitable training resources.
Directed study and inverting the classroom are underused learning methods in training. In certification courses the official courseware is made available before the training session, and delegates are directed to study it. With the Apple Professional Training Series of books, along with the equivalent from Adobe, readers are asked work through a series of task-based lessons so that during the trainer-led sessions the learning emphasis is placed on reviewing the lessons especially topics where delegates have struggled with tasks. The inverted classroom replaces lecture based teaching with exploration and questioning. It would be a bad teaching session if a trainer only read from a book.
A book, especially authorised courseware, should only be the starting point for a training session. Books, videos, and online material are valid learning resources and delegates should be directed to them.
Online videos can be excellent, but searching the internet will reveal the good, the bad, and the ugly. For Adobe products try starting a search from within the application’s Help menu, go to http://tv.adobe.com. They are portals for dozens of videos that cover topics suitable for beginners through to experts. Although authorised resources may evangelise their respective products, they will have passed through a degree of scrutiny and correction.
Blended learning creates the best learning experience, this mixes traditional classroom teaching, with online learning and independent study. Add to this an experienced trainer with real-world experience, who can breakthrough the limitations of product marketing scripts, and you will have discovered training nirvana.