Training - What's The Best Way?

posted on 2004-07-20 at 16:48:43 by Joel Ross

My company is looking for feedback of the best way to get us the knowledge we need to do our job. They've asked about a few good methods, but want to know what we want.

To be honest, my best training has been hands-on. Drop me on a project, and let me figure it out. But not everyone learns that way.

Some other options: online CBT, mentoring with subject matter experts, Microsoft events, and offsite training.

Where to start? Let's try online CBT. A good option. I used the Transcender tests to get ready for the SQL Server certification test I took, and it worked great. If we can get the CBTs on CD, so we can use them whenever we want, that would be better than an online source. For me though, I have trouble finding the time to focus on the training. Too many other things to work on.

How about mentoring from an expert. The idea here is one on one training. Great in theory - get an expert, have him tail you (or you tail him) and soak up as much as possible. The problem is that you would get good advice about what to do, but not a lot about why you do it. Of course, one on one seems like it could be very cost prohibitive, especially for a team of 40.

So then you go more along the option of a training course. Personally, these courses are fun, but I don't get much out of them. Why? Well, if it's in the office, I have too much to do. If it's offsite, it's like a vacation. Most training courses are 9-5, and very slowly paced. When I go to these courses, they tend to break into labs for the hands on training. I am always done long before we are ready to regroup, and I end up spending a lot of wasted time doing nothing. Now, with a group of my peers only, that could be reduced, but not completely.

What about the Microsoft events? Most open to the public tend to be more marketing than training. Not to mention, most aren't focused on what we want. It's tough to rely on this type of training to get what we need when we would be relying on Microsoft's schedule. Since they are not a training company, thier events are not as frequent as a training company.

The one option that wasn't listed that I feel should have been is books. There are probably 10 books I could list that I would like to read. Get me some books, and I'd be happy.

So what's the best option? I don't think you can select just one option. It's up to the individual. But first, the company has to make a commitment to the employee to get them training. In the past, I've seen companies pay lip service to training, saying that they want to develop the employees, but when push came to shove, training went out the window. For a company to dedicate itself to training, they need to be willing to dedicate time to it. And I don't mean telling the developer they get two weeks of training a year. I mean working with the developer to say that June 13th (for example) is set aside for you to do a particular online training. At a company I used to work for, we were also an accounting company. Why does that matter? Well, they had to have (documented) proof that each employee recieved three weeks of training over the course of three years. It's only a week a year, but it was guaranteed.

Anyway, what are some other methods to get training? How effective have they been? What has worked for you in the past?

Categories: ASP.NET