Because this is an early draft of this page, the top portion is more
complete than the bottom, which is still under development.
Training is a little like Photography:
Just as there's a whole lot more
to being a successful commercial photographer than knowing how to press
the camera's shutter button, there's a lot more to being a successful training
professional than just scribbling on a whiteboard or projecting words and
images on a screen.
Just as a photographer needs to compensate for the subject's level
an Instructor needs to adapt to the student's level of prior
The photographer needs to have a fully charged battery
to be prepared to take flash photographs, just
as an instructor needs to get plenty of rest prior to each day of teaching.
The materials are readily available (students and knowledge; subjects and cameras),
- everybody's dabbled with it (helping kids with homework; taking
- too many people believe they could "turn pro" and do a good job at it.
Nothing could be further from the truth!
At Consultix, we learned a lot during the years we spent
presenting courses written by "top-ten" software training vendors,
and later writing and presenting 30+ courses of our own.
ASIDE: Suitcasing Syndrome & Monologue Meltdown
The typical corporate instructor is a chronic sufferer of "suitcasing
syndrome", which comes from the combination of sleep deprivation
and long days of lecturing. This has a deleterious effect on the
performance, which often manifests itself in a boring and sleep-inducing
delivery known as "monologue meltdown".
To show you why you should consider getting your training from us,
we've listed below some of the common problems students report
with conventional "Intensive Hands-on Training Courses",
and the steps we've taken to correct them.
Typical Complaints about Software Training Instructors
- barely acknowledged our presence
- was creepy
- in short, had very poor social skills
Some individuals gravitate toward computer work
because they're better suited to working with machines than people.
They can wind up in a teaching role,
because more sociable computer-savvy people are harder to find.
The solution to this problem is simple—we don't let
individuals with inadequate social skills teach our
classes! Large training companies can't necessarily follow
this simple policy, because their demand for instructors can
exceed the supply of qualified individuals.
Last time we sent an employee to Vendor X's course,
we got a really great instructor.
This time, we got a lousy one.
Vendor X always shows "TBA" as the instructor for every course, so we
never know who we'll get.
Most training vendors overbook their staff instructors, and decide
who will teach a particular class at the last minute. E.g.,
Fred might be tentatively booked for Classes A and B in the same week; if
Class A has enough students but B doesn't, Fred will teach Class A, and B
will be cancelled. If both classes have enough students, the
Vendor will search for a contract instructor to teach the class that
Fred doesn't prefer. Either way, the Vendor won't know who will
teach a particular class until the last minute—and neither
will the students.
We don't play "musical chairs" with our class scheduling. We
believe students have a right to know what they're getting
for their training dollars, so we
announce the instructor for every class in advance.
- rarely looked at us
- talked in a monotone, mumbled, and put us to sleep. Seemed half asleep
- posed questions to us, and then immediately answered them himself—without looking for raised hands!
- seemed annoyed when we asked questions, so we learned to keep them to ourselves
As mentioned above, some instructors may be lacking in
social skills to begin with. However, even the most
sociable instructor can turn in a bad performance when A)
not given sufficient time to recover between classes,
and/or B) forced to do too many suitcased (i.e.,
on the road) classes in a row.
We avoid stupefying our instructors by limiting each
to two consecutive weeks of teaching, and
two weeks of suitcased training per month.
- was preoccupied with his own interests, achievements, and big-name
contacts, and spent too much time talking about them
It can be a bit intoxicating to have the attention of a roomful of
and that can lead to abuses of the
power of the podium. This is especially prone to happen
when the instructor is grappling with the effects of "suitcasing syndrome" (i.e., sleep deprivation, and monologue overload).
find it interesting to hear a little about the achievements of our
instructors, so we encourage that to a limited degree. Because our
instructors aren't suffering from "suitcasing syndrome", they're
able to manage this without going overboard.
- Forgot everything I said about myself in the Intro (background,
company role, etc.)
- clearly had lots of knowledge, but didn't impart much of it to us
- launched into new topics without first inviting questions on, or offering a quick review of, the last topic
- was more focused on sticking to the (grueling) schedule than on giving us a good learning experience
- did nothing to control the two students who kept talking and laughing
- one wise guy in the back row "corrected" everything the instructor
said! The instructor was aware of this, but didn't address the problem.
- instead of starting at the specified time each morning, he waited for
the late students…so they came later every day!
- never gave us a specific time to come back from breaks, so some students inadvertently came back late and missed material
Many instructors—especially new ones—are reluctant to
exercise the necessary degree of control needed to ensure
a smoothly running class. Others may go overboard and annoy the
students by paying too much attention to logistical issues.
Our seasoned instructors know how to apply the class management skills
required to keep things running smoothly.
- was carefree about time management for the early days, but on the
last day, had to blaze through the remaining (2 days of) material to get
done on time
Bad time management can be the instructor's fault, but
sometimes the vendor's to blame. For example, many
training vendors will add new material to a
class without allocating more time to teach it! Others
seek to stretch and squeeze a given class to suit a
client's scheduling or budgetary needs (e.g., teaching a
4 day class in 2.5 days), which makes it very difficult
for the instructor to properly adjust the pace to make
all the material fit.
Our instructors can successfully teach our classes in
the allotted time because our classes are
A) always taught over the same time period, and
B) designed (and
re-designed as necessary) to fit the schedule
Typical Complaints about Software Training Materials
- The instructor had to keep jumping back and forth in the workbook, to cover topics
in a logical sequence
Typical Complaints about the Quality of the Learning Experience
- The advertised topics were all given lip service, but at such a superficial level that I don't feel I learned anything useful
- Some of the topics mentioned in the advertising were only given mere
seconds of coverage; I feel cheated!
- Just before lunch or at the end of the
day, the Instructor speeded up the pace to keep on schedule, so I didn't
have time to absorb the material
Due to the competitive nature of the training business, many
vendors attempt to secure a marketing advantage by listing more
topics than their competitors. However, there are only so many
hours in a day of training, so adding additional topics necessarily requires
a reduction of time spent on other topics.
The vast majority of training companies are marketing driven,
which often means they're willing to fool people into taking courses that won't satisfy them.
With Consultix, actual programming professionals get to decide
what fits in a class and what doesn't, to maximmize the benefit to the
- The class gave an unrealistically optimistic view of how easy it
would be for
us to use this technology; tell us what's likely to go wrong!
- The class was okay, but it was so sharply focused on one version of
the software that I'm unsure how well my
training has prepared me to use related versions (RedHat, SuSE, Ubuntu,
FreeBSD, MacOS/X, Solaris, HP/UX, ActivePerl, etc.)
- We got lots of facts, but few insights about which tools were best for
which jobs, or guidance on how to avoid problems.
- The written materials were so sketchy that the Instructor had
to add a great deal of detail to fill in the gaps, which required a lot of
note-taking on my part. Why put this burden on the student?
(I understand that vendors do that
to make it harder for competitors to steal their courses,
but it detracts greatly from the reference value of the class notes.)
Typical Complaints about Hands-On Lab Exercises
- the lab exercises were so trivial as to be nearly worthless;
their only benefit was giving the least qualified students a warm fuzzy feeling
- the instructions for the lab exercises were so confusing that by the time I figured
out what I was supposed to do, the lab-time was up
I never got the amount of personal attention I needed for help with the lab exercises
- the instructor always said
"time's up" before I could finish the lab exercises!
the Instructor spent much of his time propping up under-prepared
students, rather than assisting those of us who came ready to learn
- the instructor was focused on playing Solitaire, surfing the 'net, or
reading his email during our lab sessions;
we felt asking questions would be an intrusion
- I had to share a workstation with my neighbor, which diminished
the educational value of the lab exercises for both of us
- I spent half of the first day just coming to grips with the odd layout
of the (Sun/HP/Laptop/Wyse-terminal, etc.) keyboard, which cut into my lab time
- because pages could not be removed from the workbook, I had to
flip back and forth from the lab pages to the chapter material while working on
the exercises, which was very inconvenient
Typical Complaints about Lecture Materials
- The Instructor didn't project the pages in our workbooks
- The Instructor scribbled notes on the board, but I rarely knew what pages they
were related to, and I got tired of repeatedly asking
- The Instructor projected the pages from the book, but because they
were so dense with text, I had to scan the screen wondering
what I was supposed to be looking at
- the lecture materials were so poorly designed that my eyes often wandered for long periods searching on the screen for what I was supposed to be looking at
- the workbook was full of typos, ambiguous and contradictory phrasings,
and outright technical errors
- we weren't given corrections for the (many) errors in the
workbook; perhaps the vendor was hoping we wouldn't notice them?
- the workbook was printed over a year ago! How long do they think their
should have to put up with error-infested training materials before they
- there were some good tips in the documentation, but I don't know how
I'll ever find them again…the workbook isn't well organized for reference
- in response to predictable questions, the instructor would often have to
improvise (messy) diagrams on the board, which we'd have to try to copy
before he erased them
- the instructor seemed to have no understanding of the material beyond
what was written in the workbook
- when asked questions, the instructor
sometimes appeared to just "make up" answers
(I'd rather have him say "I don't know" or "I'll find out and get back to you"
- the lecture materials were projected on such a small screen that I had
to squint to read them…and I was in the front row!
- the lecture materials were projected on a whiteboard, which caused a very
annoying reflection of the projector's bulb into my eyes