Wednesday, July 3, 2013

'TRAINING" is Not a Four-Letter Word

The word “TRAINING” seems to conjure up some bad connotations for some these days. “If you call it ‘training’, many won’t come,” I am often told. Oddly enough, that, in itself, seems rather Pavlovian…a conditioned response…call it training, and we won’t participate. But I digress.
In this world of education, strangely, the ‘T-word’ is most abhorred, according to some. Faculty, for instance, I’m told, take great offense at the thought of being trained. I must interject here that never…and I seriously mean NEVER…has a single instructor shared that ideology with me. But there are some pretty influential people out there, evidently, who have written this in their highly revered professional journal articles. At least that is what I’m told.

So, some feel that ‘training’ has a bad connotation, despite the fact that the word is absolutely descriptive as both noun and verb. Here at Shenandoah University, I am a trainer. In fact, my official title for some time now has been Instructional Technology Training Coordinator. I offer training. So is it some perverse ‘political correctness’ that is causing some folks to suddenly try to change the rules? I am far too logical and pragmatic to look for another word for something that so perfectly describes itself. What other word would you prefer? Granted, if I put ‘ice cream social’ on the training calendar at work, I am sure I would have a lot more people sign up, but unless I had the ice cream on hand, it wouldn’t exactly describe what they were in for, now would it? I know that may sound silly, but this topic has been a conundrum for me for some time now, and I know I’m not alone. At conferences and workshops that I’ve attended or participated in over the past several years, these discussions often surface, and, as yet, I have not heard either a single good argument for choosing another word, or a good solution to what seems like a non-issue to me personally. Although it may sound as though I’m closed-minded, I assure you I am open and receptive to any logic, information, research, or personal experience on the subject that may illuminate me!

I am headed out next week to Blackboard World 2013, a premiere international technology conference for those of us in the world of education and instructional technology, led by one of the world’s leaders in learning management systems, Blackboard, Incorporated. I believe this is my 8th or 9th Blackboard conference. For the last 4 of those years, I’ve also been at times a presenter, a VIP Blogger, a Catalyst Winner, a user group leader, and a panel discussion leader. This year, I’m an official ‘VIP Blogger’ again, as well as a user group leader (The Virginia Blackboard Users Group), as well as a panel discussion leader. I will be leading one of the ‘Birds-of-a-Feather’ panel discussions scheduled for Thursday, July 11th at 2 pm, in Venetian H, entitled, “SHOULD WE CALL IT ‘TRAINING’?”  This is a chance for any and all trainers, workshop leaders, teachers, and even ‘ice cream social’ organizers to openly discuss the importance of what we call our tr-….uh……well, you know what I mean….and how best to reach our respective goals of teaching and learning. I am hoping it will be another humorous, grass roots approach to some common issues that seem to plague trai-…….um….people who do what I do…for a long time. 

I sincerely hope many of you can join me there!

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