on March 24th, 2010

Dear Colleagues

One of my good colleagues, Ric Harrison (our e-learning systems consultant), has written about the futility of this mad rush for certification and accreditation in everything we do…….read on…

If you were promised a starring role in a movie and were given the chance of coaching by Johnny Depp or Philip Seymour Hoffman, would you pass them over in favour of someone who had all the right teaching certification but never “made it” as an actor?
Similarly, if you had the opportunity to have your cricket or base ball team coached by a well-known local with an outstanding track-record, would you reject him because he did not have a “Certificate III” in coaching? Last week an example of this questionable selection process was witnessed. Two world-class cricketers, with impeccable experience (Justin Langer and Bruce Yardley), were advised by the Western Australian Cricket Association that they did not meet the criteria to apply for the role as coach for Western Australia’s (state) side. This is despite Langer having served as batting coach and mentor for the Australian national team. Yardley was somewhat bemused with his rejection, alluding to the fact that the state team was failing badly - coming last – in spite of the fact that the incumbent coach is certified, with a slew of qualifications. His comment: “…..it seems more important to have the right paperwork than consider what you can bring as a coach.”

An interesting and dare I say, bizarre situation.  The rejection of these two candidates is an example of what can happen when accountability for training goes mad.  Over-reliance on training “rules” meant that two prime candidates were not even considered, let alone interviewed or tested as coaches, despite their previous success and experience.

This is equally applicable to engineering training and education.  What makes a good technical training program? In reality, there is no guarantee of its worth because a committee of industry representatives or academics have ruled on the content and it is delivered by teachers with the appropriate ‘paperwork’.  The course content must, instead, accurately reflect what you or your firm needs today and facilitate, as a result, an increase in efficiency and productivity on-the-job.  Furthermore, it must be presented by people who have worked in industry and experienced the real-world application of the content they teach.

We mustn’t become carried away with rule-driven systems as the major deciding factor when choosing our training or education.  Systems do have a place.  They can be useful to protect students from poorly designed content and inexperienced instructors – or at least limit the downside.  But there is something far more vital to consider when choosing a training program.

If you want to be the best hockey team, or the most successful actor, or an engineering professional who is in demand, the real test of training surely can only be gauged by the results.

Take a closer look at intended training. Look at the details of the content, look at the instructors’ backgrounds.  Will the program help me in my work?  Does the content reflect what I and my firm really need?  And will I be motivated by experienced instructors who have more than book learning?  The result that you want, post training, is to be able to “hit the ground running” and increase your value as an employee, and the satisfaction you receive from well-executed work.

Like a cricket team or a budding movie actor, the best results will come from the real-world foundations of the training and education coupled with the proven experience of a seasoned instructor.

In terms of setting up rules for learning and training, we should always remember George Bernard Shaw’s dictum: The golden rule is that there are no golden rules.

The inventor of the PLC – Dick Morley – is coming to you with a complementary video/web session

We have convinced Dick Morley to present briefly, “On the future of the programmable logic Controller and programmable automation controller” and to take questions from you. Join us for this fun 35 minute session on the 28th April 2010.
Please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you are interested and she will notify you of the exact time closer to the date. Naturally, it is a complimentary session.
Yours in engineering learning

Steve and Ric

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