Back Home Again: Apple Train the Trainer Roundup

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My last post seems ages ago, as I have since returned home and had a very busy holiday weekend. So let me fill you in on my overall impressions for the Train the Trainer program that I attended last week.

As previously posted, the first two days consisted of learning how to train adults in particular, and then presentation styles. The remainder of the week was basically the same, covering the rest of the chapters within the course material. Training methods were explored, feedback was given, and overall it was a worthwhile experience in preparing to present the course materials. Ultimately, I doubt very much if it would change the way I had planned on teaching the courses, but I did get some great contacts, which I will bring up later.

The Presentations
The presentations that were given came right out of the Support Essentials Workbook, which one gets when one attends the training course. The workbook contains most of the presentation slides, as well as the exercises. Of course, we didn't actually go into the exercises, because we were focusing on the actual presentation methods. Ultimately, we were being judged on whether or not we were good enough to provide the public face of Apple Computers. The most important thing I had learned is that one doesn't say "OS X (ex)", but rather "OS 10". Also, it's possible to mention any third party utilities that work well, even if Apple has an application that does the same thing but not as well. That was refreshing.

The Feedback
The feedback process was nice, in that the candidates for Train the Trainer were all able to share what they thought was good, and what they thought they needed to improve on. It was a really good experience being able to give feedback, and receive it. We were all to become a "sponge", receiving feedback without making any comments. Then the instructor gave their feedback based on what they felt went well and what needed to improve. The good news is that everyone attending (all three of us) did really well. The other two candidates did an excellent job in their training presentations, and I was told I did fine as well.

That being said, I don't think I changed my presentation style very much. We were video-taped for review later, and it helped for me to see myself. I did notice my poor posture, as well as a tendency to say "so" and "um" quite a lot. That is something that I would like to work on. But my presentations went pretty much as I would have expected. It isn't perfect by any means, but it has proven to be effective in the past.

The Training Program
Something that really frustrates me about industries in general is the lack of detailed information about the training program itself. Now, I don't mean materials, as that represents an investment and needs to be guarded. No, I mean the general flow of the training process. How does one prepare for the class? How does one organize their materials, order new materials, utilize training seats sold by the parent company, etc. Much of this is covered in house with most companies, and leaves a training facility out in the cold without inside help.

This same issue I found to be true initially with Apple Training. It was almost like pulling teeth trying to get the course requirements, class registration information, etc. in time to do real scheduling within a university timetable. But to be fair, I expect to have the same concerns with RedHat and SuSE when I begin those programs. The real benefit of attending this training was getting to meet a lot of the folks at the Worldwide Customer Training program. I got to ask about porting their training materials over to a more University schedule format, get to know how the program works internally, and get contact information for those that I may need to contact later for various issues. That was, in my mind, the best opportunity for me attending the CT3. For that reason alone I would be happy to attend all of the T3's that are planned for each of the new courses I will be teaching.

Caffe Mac
Caffe Mac is perhaps the best kept secret for Apple employees. Sure, there are a lot of companies that have excellent food offered, but generally it's very expensive to fill full. Not at Caffe Mac! The food is varied, freshly made, and amazingly inexpensive for the quality. I was in heaven when I had a real fire-baked pizza (not gas flame, or electric, real wood fire!), or a delicate soba with seaweed. It's a great place for lunch.

The Company Store
And, if that isn't enough, there is the company store that has everything short of hardware, and at a decent price (particularly if your instructor is kind enough to share their employee discount!). I did all my wife's holiday shopping there for her, because I knew she loves her Mac. Another great secret for employees.

So, needless to say I enjoyed the experience, and look forward to going back again in January for the T3 for Server Essentials. But until then, look for more postings about issues I see coming down the pipe.