I joined the technology field as a Software Training Specialist over three years ago, and at the time it was a relatively easy transition as I was previously working in the public education arena. But as professional software trainer, I quickly noticed that when it came to professional development, there was a dearth of information relating to the specific field of Software Training. There are lots of organizations and information out there for general L&D specialists (which is what Software Training technically falls into), but within those organizations there is a definite focus on L&D centered around Human Resources and other related issues.
I recently returned from onsite training, which is hands down my favorite part of my job. I love going out and working with our clients, helping them get a handle for the new system, and in many instances providing reassurance that despite the challenges ahead, they will exceed even their own expectations for the upcoming conversion. On the long drive back home, I had time to think about training programs for software implementations, and how they are different from traditional L&D.
I also happen to be a movie enthusiast…particularly comedies. I find that they are great mirrors for many situations in life, and those who know me know that it’s not unusual for me to whip out a quote from some movie in response to any general scenario.
Without further ado, here are a just a few tips for creating a great software learning experience as told by some of my favorite movies:
Lone Star: Take only what you need to survive!
Yes, we’re starting with the Mel Brooks classic space parody Spaceballs. Lone Star gives this handy advice to Princess Vespa after their ship crash lands on a seemingly abandoned planet and they are forced to abandon ship and walk to help. But in our case I am referring to the amount of information you provide your students during software training. You have to recognize that your students have amazing challenges heading their way; conversion and implementation of a new software product is never dull. As an educator, it’s tempting to want to tell them everything they would need to know about your software; but if you do you will only overwhelm them and they will retain nothing. A better goal? Give them only what they need to survive the initial conversion process and normal operations for the first few weeks/few months. Follow up with the rest of the info later, after they’ve had time to adjust.
King Arthur: How does it…um…how does it work?
Sir Lancelot: I know not, my liege.
King Arthur: Consult the Book of Armaments!
Ah…Monty Python! You can’t beat this scene towards the end of the classic Monty Python and the Holy Grail as King Arthur and his knights face down the terrible Killer Rabbit who guards the Cave of Caerbannog. Not knowing how to use the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch against the vile creature, they receive a formal reading and sermon on the subject from the Book of Armaments, as delivered by priests who guard the item. How does it apply to us? Well, as a Software Training Specialist you are going to get a lot of questions similar to what King Arthur asked, and it’s important not to simply refer them to the text you provided or deliver the entire answer to them in a formal, sermon-like fashion. Remember that at some point they are going to be using the software to do their jobs and you won’t be there to help them! Provide plenty of hands-on activities, and if they get lost or ask for help first let them try to muddle through it on their own. The lesson will be far more effective if they actually experience it themselves…especially if they have to fix it themselves!