The Ideal Trainer

Some suggestions of what to look for when you are shopping for a trainer.  The ideal trainer....

Training Expertise

  • understands the specific software or hardware systems which will be trained.
  • knows how to order topics: The order in which topics are taught can significantly affect a student's ability to comprehend. The instructor must know which topics or features are conceptually necessary before others.  Like a construction project - the foundation must be built first before the next layer of bricks can be placed on it, and that layer must be firmly in place before the next layer is built upon that.
  • is able to set class goals that are task-based. i.e., each student should able to perform specific tasks by the end of the class, and the instructor should be able to adjust the teaching techniques and exercises on the fly if needed to accomplish that goal.
  • has an attitude of patience and respect for the students.
  • has experience teaching adults, if the students will be adults. There are differences between teaching children and adults.
  • has an ability to communicate technical information in a non-technical way, so that people who are new to computers, or who don't know the terminology, are nevertheless able to comprehend.
  • has expertise in classroom management and understanding of group dynamics.
  • knows how to manage his/her own time and the students' in-class time.
  • has an ability to manage differing personalities in the classroom...encouraging the apprehensive, calming the aggressive or talkative, steering the computer adventurers to stay with the rest of the class, drawing out the shy, etc.
  • has the ability to manage difficult personalities, to minimize class disruptions.
  • has experience training people who have many different backgrounds and business needs.  CEOs, salesmen, bookkeepers, and file clerks are likely to have different perspectives on the task, different educational backgrounds, different vocabularies, etc.
  • has experience with people with different kinds and levels of computer experience - power users to novices.
  • has experience training diagnosing students' obstacles to learning.
  • encourages students to ask questions or to let the instructor know if they are not understanding something or having a problem, and is constantly checking the students' work to see if they are comprehending or whether they need help.
  • has the ability to gauge when students have soaked up as much information as they can and need a break. The instructor should be comfortable taking the initiative to give students' different breaks from what has been stated (perhaps more breaks, or shorter or longer breaks) based on the needs of each particular group of students.
  • has knowledge of the various learning styles: kinesthetic, auditory, visual, etc. and incorporates teaching techniques that address each of these styles, so that no student is left out of the learning process.
  • has experience teaching people for whom English is not their first language. Articulating clearly and simply, and at a slower pace may be required for students who think in their first language and have to translate the instructor's words to comprehend them.
  • knows how to assist those student who have not acquired learning/study skills such as good note taking.

Industry Expertise

  • has an understanding of the personnel and tasks in your industry, which may be very different from other industries.
  • has an understanding of the different divisions or departments within your organization. This will give the instructor a better understanding of some of the students' questions that will arise, and how to answer the student or direct them to further resources.
  • understands the sensitivity and confidentiality of the data that the students (and at times even the instructor) may be exposed to at your organization, and is committed to maintaining that confidentiality.
  • can pass a background check, if needed by your organization.
  • If your organization has a strict hierarchy of authority (for example, the military or law enforcement), then you'll want an instructor who understands and respects the authority hierarchy of your organization, but at the same time is neither intimidated by the higher levels nor treats the lower levels with any disrespect or neglect, and can combine all levels in a classroom setting.