Chapter 6: Knowing How to Train Users|
Keeping track of staff training can help identify when new training is needed. If you have staff who require training, you should plan for certifying that the staff members successfully completed their courses and record the information in their files.
What should be the training outcomes?
Just as it is important to define goals and measure expected outcomes for classroom instruction, it is important to define goals for computer system training and then measure user performance against those learning goals. Your primary goal for the training should be to have users feel comfortable and competent to use the computer system. An indication that this goal has been accomplished is that users actually utilize the system in the ways you desire. You may have additional goals related to the efficient operation of your organization and the provision of continuing professional development for staff members. You will want to come up with specific indicators that your goals have been met, and monitor your progress toward accomplishing these goals.
If your goal is computer system usage for greater efficiency, you will want to look at an intermediate indicator such as whether or not your staff has been trained to use the system. Keeping records of successful training can help you monitor your progress toward the goal and identify where there are additional training needs.
Users should be "certified" based upon both the time they have participated in training and, if possible, the level of skill they have demonstrated. Successful students should receive certificates. Copies of the certificates, or some other notation indicating they have successfully completed the course, should be added to their personnel files. This will be helpful in determining which users need additional or updated training in the future.
The importance attached to such certificates depends on the nature of the computer system and your goals. For many generic tools (e.g., word processors, spreadsheets), it makes sense to issue a certificate that simply verifies that the person attended a course. In other cases (e.g., a financial system used to allocate and commit funds), certification of training may be necessary to authorize someone to use the system, because the risks of allowing access by untrained users are perceived to be significant. In these cases, course completion usually involves testing to ensure that the trainee has demonstrated proficiency.
With regard to classroom uses of instructional applications, there may be a local mandate requiring that teachers receive training. Teachers may even be required to be certified to teach these applications. Often teachers who complete courses related to technology are given Continuing Education Units (CEU's), which are applicable to inservice training requirements or other conditions required for re-licensure or continued employment. Whoever is planning the training of instructional personnel should keep these requirements in mind and ensure that training is neither redundant nor inappropriate for instructional staff. As stated above, professional development must be directed at specific curricular areas, with a focus on integrating technology into that curriculum.
Common shortcomings of training programs are the failure to document that the training actually occurred and failure to properly evaluate the effectiveness of the training. It's a good idea to keep a record of participants in all training and professional development classes so that you can see when it is time to offer new training. It is also helpful to have participants evaluate both the trainer and the content of the courses to ensure that the users' needs are being met and to help improve the overall quality of the training program.