Training Definitions and Terms

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    Searching for information just ain’t what it used to be. But you knew that already.

    I said in my last article I would give you a few training definitions. Well, as you know, the internet is full of definitions. Below are some that best fit our purposes. I wish I could take credit for them but I can’t. Meanwhile, I think the definitions are simply put and easy to understand. Keeping it basic is important. I’ve saved links to other sites for more involved and specific definitions, for example, ASTD’s E-learning Glossary, and another online training site. Below is a glossary of common training terms from another site:

    • Active Learning — A learning principle that says participants learn more when they are actively involved in the process. Remember the saying “we learn more by doing”.
    • Agenda — A list, plan or outline of things to be done before, during and after the training. An agenda is the road map that will lead to the achievement of the learning objectives. Everyone needs a plan and wants to know where you are leading them.
    • Anecdote — A short story used to help illustrate a point.
    • Audio-Visual Aids — Training or educational materials directed at both the sense of hearing and the sense of sight. Materials that provide pictures and/or sounds to assist learning or teaching. Flip charts, overhead transparencies, graphical presentations, computer-based presentations, chalkboards, slide presentations, videos and films are just a few examples of audio-visual aids.
    • Brainstorming — A group method for collecting ideas and suggestions from the participants. This technique is used to problem solve and collect information by stimulating creative thinking through unrestrained and spontaneous participation in discussion.
    • Case Study — A technique where the participants are asked to investigate a situation or problem and report their findings, causes and/or solutions. Participants gather and organize relevant materials and report their findings.
    • Checklist — A list of relevant items to be considered when preparing and conducting a training program.
    • Competent (Competency) — Possessing sufficient or suitable skill, knowledge or experience to achieve a specific objective. For example: She is competent to supervise the carpet cleaning operation in our building.
    • Competency-Based Training — An educational process that focuses on specific core competencies that have been clearly defined.
    • Computer-Based Training (CBT)— Refers to learning that is conducted using a computer. This includes interactive CD-ROM, the internet and computer software. CBT uses the power of the computer by integrating sound, video, animation and text to allow the student to interact with the computer to learn and remember.
    • Conference — A group of people who get together to exchange information and ideas on a specific topic.
    • Constraints — These are the things that might hold the audience back from doing what you want them to do or from learning what you want them to learn. It is important to anticipate these constraints and be prepared to handle them.
    • Contract Learning — Also known as self-directed learning. It is a relatively new concept to trainers and learners. It allows the learner to select the topics or competencies they want to learn.
    • Core Competencies — Those things that are essential and “must” be learned for an individual to accomplish the primary objectives of their job. The central, innermost or most essential part of what the trainee must know to do their job effectively.
    • Core Curriculum — A curriculum in which all or some of the subjects or courses are based on a central theme in order to correlate the subjects and the theme.
    • Course — The organized body of information or curriculum that will presented to the students.
    • Curriculum — The course of study given in a school, college, university or educational program.
    • Demographic Information — Things like the size of the audience, location of the presentation etc. may influence the effectiveness of the training.
    • Demonstration — A method for showing participants how to do a specific task or skill.
    • Discovery Learning — Students learn by doing and experiencing, rather than relying only on the instructor.
    • Evaluation — Testing and comparing results.
    • Exercise — A structured experience in which the participants are involved.
    • Facilitator — A trainer who lets the group become responsible for the learning outcome. A facilitator helps the group learn by controlling the group process and allowing the group to work through problems and solutions together.
    • Feedback — Constructive information provided by the participants and/or the trainer.
    • Field Trip — A trip to a location outside the classroom to assist in learning more about a specific topic.
    • Fishbowl — A group process using a discussion group and an observer group.
    • Flip Chart — An easel with large sheets of paper for presenting or collecting written lists or ideas.
    • Games — Discovery exercises where participants learn by experience. The rules for games should be clearly defined for all participates to understand. Competition should be controlled so that all participants feel like winners at the end.
    • Handouts — A written summary of the presentation that is distributed to the audience before, during or after the presentation. Handouts will reinforce important information, summarize action items for the audience to follow up on and supply supporting data you don’t want to clutter your visual aids.
    • Icebreaker — A quick game or exercise designed to get participants settled or mixing with each other.
    • Instructor — The person who teaches, trains or instructs an individual or a group of people.
    • Involving Question — A question asked to the audience to involve the group and learn what they are interested in learning about.
    • Learning — Knowledge acquired by systematic study in any field.
    • Lecture — A one-way communication from the lecturer to the group.
    • LCD Projector — Electronic device that projects a computer image onto a wall or screen. It connects directly to a computer (typically laptop computers) to provide a professional looking presentation.
    • Main Idea — Have you ever heard the saying, Tell them what you’re going to tell them — Tell them — Then tell them what you told them?
    • Motivation — A learning principle that says participants learn best when they are motivated. The material must be meaningful and worthwhile to the participant not only to the trainer.
    • Multicultural — Mixed races, nationalities or cultures.
    • Multimedia – Information in different formats including text, graphics, sound, video and animation to support computer-based applications.
    • Multiple-Sense Learning — A learning principle that says that learning is far more effective if the participants use more than one of their five senses.
    • Needs — There are two kinds of needs when training a group: 1) What the group thinks they need, and 2) What the trainer thought the group needed. It is important to resolve any conflicts before beginning the training.
    • Networking — Getting to know other participants and learning from them.
    • Objective — A statement communicating the specific goals to be achieved.
    • Observer — Someone who watches a group process and gives feedback on it.
    • Overhead Projector — Electronic projector that projects overhead transparency images onto a wall or screen.
    • Overhead Transparency — Sheet of transparent film with information written on it. It is used with an overhead projector.
    • Participant — A person attending a training program or involved in any group process.
    • Piloting — Testing something before sending it to the target population. Questionnaires and examinations are normally piloted before they are used.
    • Quotation — Direct quotes from credible people or organizations to help support your training concept.
    • Recency — A learning principle that tells us that the things that are learned last are those best remembered by the participants.
    • Reinforcement — Encouragement or praise given to participants to keep their interest or increase their motivation.
    • Relevant — A learning principle that tells us that all the training, information, training aids, case studies and other materials must be relevant and appropriate to the participant’s needs if they are going to be effective.
    • Rhetorical Question — A question asked to the group with an obvious answer. This device is an excellent way to get the audience’s attention.
    • Role-Playing — An acting out of specific situations in front of, or with, the group to demonstrate ways to handle specific situations or problems.
    • Self-Directed Learning — Participants take responsibility for their learning and learn-at-their-own-speed. Computer-based training is an excellent method for supporting this type of learning.
    • Seminar — Any meeting for exchanging information and holding discussions. Sometimes these are problem-solving sessions where the participants have similar needs or problems identified.
    • Session — Any single presentation that deals with one specific topic. It may last from a few minutes to a few days depending upon the subject.
    • Shocking Statement — This type of statement will help capture the audience’s attention and elevate their interest in the subject.
    • Simulation — An exercise designed to create a real-life atmosphere.
    • Skill — A complex sequence of practical activities. A practical demonstration is essential when you are teaching a skill. Turning on a light, plugging in a vacuum cleaner, washing a window are examples of skills.
    • Standards — A rule or principle that is used as a basis for judgment. A road map that provides guidance and direction to lead us to an established objective or goal. Standards define the level of quality expected after an area or object has been cleaned. Standards represent the “measuring sticks” used in establishing productivity and performance guidelines.
    • Survey — A process of gathering information to determine whether or not there is a training need. They are often used to collect information related to a Training Needs Analysis.
    • Team Building — A training program designed to assist a group of people to work together as a team while they are learning.
    • Test — A way of determining a participant’s level of knowledge, skill, expertise or behavior in a given area.
    • Trainer — The person or media that trains, instructs, teaches or informs an individual or a group of people.
    • Train — To make proficient by instruction and repeated practice, as in some art, profession or work. To discipline or instruct as in the performance of tasks. Designed to impart efficiency and proficiency. To prepare someone to accomplish an objective, task or job.
    • Training Aids — They are aids to learning and not a crutch for the instructor to lean on, or something that is used too much.
    • Training Need — The difference between what the employee can do now and what they are required to do in order to carry out their job effectively and efficiently.
    • Training Needs Analysis — A training needs analysis is the method of determining if a training need exists and if it does, what training is required to fill the gap.
    • Values — Answers the question, what is important to the group? Different organizations have different value systems. Even different departments within an organization can have different values.
    • Video Clip — A short section of video to visually help the participant learn.
    • Visual Aids — Supportive visual information used to enhance learning. The purpose of visual aids is to arouse and maintain interest, simplify instruction, accelerate learning and improve aid retention.
    • Whiteboards — A smooth white-surfaced board that can be written on with a special whiteboard marker.
    • Workshop — Training program where the participants learn by doing and interacting.
    Ideas come to us from around the world. No longer are limited to the public library.

    Of course, that’s the easy part–defining what it is. Harder still, is doing it. Training, that is. If you take a look at the categories listed on this Training and Development blog site, you’ll see a list of categories that we could take one at a time and write several books on the topic–and that has already been the case; however, in this electronic age of information, we are able to gather specific bits of what we need to do the job.

    We go to school to get the books, or we go online. Check out each of these categories and Google them if you haven’t found enough information on the category. The categories can be basic as well. There is such a thing as a simple assessment or training plan as well as a comprehensive ones.

    If you are about to undertake (with no experience) a training assignment, it may be time to do more research than the web, but the web can only get you started. I hope that my comments here can get you thinking in a workable direction for what your organization needs. It still makes sense, if possible, to find a consultant like me 🙂 or someone else you can help. It never hurts to ask what we offer. You may learn the job is small enough you can handle or maybe you ought to re-think or ask the boss to re-think the company’s position.

    Training done well is full of great return. Done badly, it is not only a waste of money, but it can do irreparable damage. Large and small training companies have advantages and disadvantages depending on the job. Some training companies specialize in certain kinds of training. Decide what is right for yours. Make sure it’s a fit for both company needs and budget. Sometimes you get what you pay for, but sometimes you don’t need all the bells and whistles to get the job done well.

    Of course, most trainers will customize. Sometimes that may be with pre-packaged materials, which also cost. There a host of tools and exercises that can help you design, develop, deliver and evaluate the training you need to do. Funny thing, your company has a niche and so do we.

    Simple words of wisdom. Don’t speak until you listen first.

    My niche is as you see, pretty transparent. I y’am what I y’am. I look at formal training somewhat askew. Why? To make it real. I live and breathe it. I believe when people want to learn, they will, and if you give people what they need (and it’s not as much as you think…a little self-esteem) they’ll reward you with effort, expertise and creativity.

    For more resources about training, see the Training library.

    I spent years as a trainer at a national level, more years as a communicator, and a lot more time as a writer. My background in psychology and theatre doesn’t hurt either when it comes to translating what needs to happen to make a company a more functional and less dysfunctional family. I started with Animal Learning–the basic of basic and the first thing you learn is meeting the needs of your subjects to get results. I’m available for consultations, training development and training delivery. Check out my website for more information. I guarantee training results. Just ask me how. You can also check out my T and D article here on the subject. As always the advice is mine alone and my responsibility. I hope it is at least as useful as the definitions. For a look at the human side of training from my Cave Man perspective, please check out my book, The Cave Man Guide to Training and Development. Happy training.