A multi-part series
In this series we will discuss the following:
- The difference between Training and Education
- Types of training and or group discussions
- What makes a class or course
- How to select a training group or individual
- How to evaluate a vendor and their qualifications to conduct training
- What should the client expect and demand
- How to act at a class / course
- Is it worth the money
An introduction to training and education; what’s the difference?
One regular guy’s opinion –not an operator- This topic has been discussed tacitly by many and beaten around for years. Few have discussed it in-depth and delved into the nuisances of the subject matter. Many attend training with regularity from any number of vendors and private organizations and as a course of employment. This article is in no way meant to disparage folks from attending anyone’s training, seminars and or classes.
Let’s establish my credentials and background that qualifies me to give opinions on this topic. I own and operate a tactical training and consulting firm which has been in business since 1994. We train and certify instructors from many different units, teams, organizations and groups. I worked professionally in the public sector and as part of a government organization, as an in service training instructor and a “master training for trainers” instructor for the state of California. I was employed in law enforcement for over 28 years; assigned to a SWAT team and was the “Master Trainer” for my departments state SWAT unit. This unit employed over 650 members at one time. They were / are authorized a multi-million dollar budget annually to operate within and were accountable for the same. Every dollar spent in training had to be accounted for and justified through the prism of objective outcomes, applicability to our responsibilities and responsible expenditures of funding. All expenses are reviewed and accounted for by an upper management team and administrative oversight as well as audited regularly. My final posting was to mentor, develop and supervise a large group of instructors in order to facilitate basic and advanced SWAT schools, sniper courses and numerous other SWAT related courses across the state of California. I was responsible for planning, coordinating, supervising, and contributing to training pertaining to the unit, and operational activities. Further I was responsible to oversee the development of lesson plans, courses of instruction, agendas, to include support and execution of training sessions. I delivered tactical and technical guidance to subordinates, and professional support to both subordinates and superiors in the accomplishment of their duties. I reported directly to our state Emergency Operations Unit while acting within their scope, mandates and requirements. I’m a US federal court certified expert in tactical and firearms training. Part of my responsibility was to evaluate training vendors and organizations to conduct outside training for our teams and agency. In addition I am a Senior NCO in the US Army and conduct / conducted training with that organization at the team, squad, platoon and company level through my over 30 years of service. This article is opinion based with amalgamate of fact that has driven my conclusions. These conclusions are based on my experience, and observations of nearly forty years of involvement in training, and attending training as a both a professional and citizen. I have attended and or conducted over 140 courses of instruction to date, ranging from 1 day to 3 months. This is an abbreviated list of my experience and qualifications.
Training versus Education
From Marian Webster
Let’s define “training” by the English definition
English Language Learners
- A process by which someone is taught the skills that are needed for an art, profession, or job
- The process by which an athlete prepares for competition by exercising, practicing, etc.
From Marian Webster
Let’s define “education” by the English definition
English Language Learners
- the action or process of educating or of being educated also: a stage of such a process
- the knowledge and development resulting from the process of being educated a person of little education
- the field of study that deals mainly with methods of teaching and learning in schools
I define and explain training in the following way, “training enhances performance in the work place and work related skills, informs the employee / student of responsibilities and gains compliance with expectations of the organization as well as certifies the person to perform certain tasks and or specific skills”
Professional groups like ours provide training on contract typically for agency and organization specific groups; these are designed for the client. Typically an assessment is conducted of the client group’s needs, what their objectives are, and outcome expectations. Very seldom do we as an example conduct strict singular template pattern training with prefabricated lesson plans and or courses of instruction. The client group is actively involved in the development of said training to address their specific needs and identified deficiencies within their scope of duties. We seek to mitigate un-necessary training on irrelevant topics and wasteful use of funding streams by agencies. These groups don’t seek entertainment, fun and or unrelated topics to keep themselves busy. We must work within their budgets, equipment limitations and personnel abilities. Although for example we have personnel who teach firing from helicopters, maritime operations, explosive entry, and a gambit of other topics it’s only relevant to a very few organizations. Nor is it worthy of spending the public’s money on such wasteful endeavors. These groups typically train in private and in closed session with their team and or unit. They have very clear rules of engagement, operational capability, equipment specifications, training budgets and strict responsibilities.
On the other hand private vendors in the market offer open training to the public on generic topics.
The four questions you must answer before spending money on training are the following:
- Why are you attending said course and what are your expectations?
- Do you want education or training?
- Do you seek both education and training?
- Is the cost worth the increased skills, providing there is a definable and objective.
In order to answer the questions above you must know the following:
- What is your need?
- Is this for your work or work related posting?
- Is this enhancing your skill toward better performance of a hobby?
- Is this a practical skill you’re looking to enhance your performance within?
- Do you seek a certification of a skill for upward mobility or job placement? And how exactly will this training / certification enhance that?
- Are you only interested in a reduced scope of study to a specific device and or thing?
- Are you interested in a general theory and overview of the entire topic and its general application?
- What is the cost versus final outcome of objective skills performance? Is it worth it for the instructor, the time and the resulting skills?
Ok so we now have a rough summary of the nuisance differences between training and education. Let’s begin by discussing and defining categories or events. I will break these into types and categories and define each.
General types of training gatherings
- Work shop
- Class / course
A symposium tends to be similar to a conference, but reduced in size. It’s simply a small conference.
A workshop most usually a day or two long, these are dedicated to conversing on a specific topic. These events are held as part of a section, you will frequently find outside visitors who attend them too.
A clinic is a conference or short course on a particular subject. These are most often from a couple of hours to 8 hours one day. Very focused on a very specific skill or topic and can be in a practical environment and or classroom. These don’t involve testing and or evaluation of student retention of course material.
A conference tends to be a large event. They can total between fifty attendees to thousands, and the largest may host even more.
A class / course are a body of students meeting regularly to study the same subject,a course of instruction provided by a lead instructor or teacher. These are conducted for one or more days. A class is conducted on a specific topic and or subject. This topic should have definable objectives and outcomes or it’s not a class. A class often contains evaluations and progressive performance feedback for retention of material and subject matter. This is not a group discussion and or free flow of cross information on numerous sub-topics.
A class can be training or education, or both simultaneously.
Generally most classes / courses are organized and contain the following
Most often professional training groups blend “principle based learning” and conventional course break down as described above. This is a hybrid approach, it contains the enumerated categories of principle based learning, and strict adherence to the building blocks of practical performance.
Governmental organizations require testing, whether question and answer, written and or practical application or all combined. These agencies require full resumes, training records of instructors and experience and recommendations of other governmental groups who attended their training. These government groups further require the agency conducting training to test all personnel. The student must perform on demand and to standard in order to be successful.
In the private sector strict performance standards can create difficulties. Many vendors don’t test, or the tests are very subjective to avoid bruised egos. Competitions and grades can become biased and subjective as well. Testing and standards create adverse feelings by the student. This can be adverse to return customers and business. Evaluations of skills create friction and it is time demanding requiring tutorial with retraining methods on occasion.
Part 2 will be published in the near future. If you have comments please contact me at MONTEIMTT@GMAIL.COM