Online Training – Worth the cash?

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Yesterday I wrote about how we are losing skilled staff out of the industry as the big squeeze is hitting firms all over the country, so today I thought I’d talk about online training.

In a previous life (which naturally was many moons ago) whenever a new version of a software application was released I would tirelessly learn all I could to ensure that I had the answers to the questions from the staff who worked for me and I in turn would serve as the educator. I saw this as my duty and my career so it was down to me to maintain a competence level on the applications of may chosen career path, I mean most updates to software only ever improve features or add the odd new one here and there.

Over a period of upgrades from Adobe, they changed the interfaces, they moved menu items around and generally improved the applications usability bringing the suite into a common user interface environment, great you may think…… I remember as a manager having discussions with staff about the company providing training on the updates, why? good question, essentially the same application, slightly altered interface with some new tools. If they were Photoshop users and we had said, sorry we’re not doing the next upgrade as it’s too expensive, instead we will be switching to Paint Shop Pro, then yes I can understand, a new application that they have never used before; or say When Indesign started becoming the application of choice for the design agencies and our ‘repro’ operators had to learn how to become proficient in it as they were long term Quark users, then yes completely, 100% train them.

Well that was way back when the internet was a luxury and dial up was the best a user had on offer. Today in the highly connected world, we have unlimited access to resources far beyond our earlier years in the industry. Companies such as Total Training and Lynda.com  who once could only offer video based training via expensive CD sets, now have complete online libraries covering every application you can think of, along with scripting languages and operating systems. All this offered for a single monthly or annual fee of a couple of hundred bucks.

Why wouldn’t you as a professional in your chosen career path invest in the continued self development for your future?

I’ve seen a mixture of reasons for this, don’t get me wrong, I know people who have and do subscribe to these online training libraries, but I also know people who think it is the duty of the company they work for to maintain their application knowledge and I also know people who like the concept but actually sitting down and going through a training program, in their own time or time set aside by the company, well that just rarely happens…. too many distractions, so many other things that are more exciting to do blah blah blah….. yes I’ve heard all the excuses!

But, wait, there’s another issue, with all of this high speed access to the world wide web your web connection to the largest most knowledgeable cerebral cortex, a connection into the world of self published material, puts absolutely everything at your finger tips for FREE yes FREE ok maybe not as well organised as these online training sites, but want to know how to use curves in Photoshop, tap it into Google, hundreds of pages free to view, video’s to watch, people to connect to. Everything you need is there, self published by individuals, done in their own time….. even how to use a hammer (even baby’s know how to use a hammer when they are first given one) yes the simple stuff, someone has written text or created a video on the subject.

So the question, is online training worth the cash? Do they need to step up their game so that you or your company who has invested in the subscription actually have some sort of metric’s to measure how effective the training was, and thus how much value it brings?

I’m not down on the guys at all, I think they serve a great purpose and have taught me a lot over my years, my question is really are they keeping up with the changing times.

Take the poll, see what we all think.

Author: Gary George

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3 Responses to “Online Training – Worth the cash?”

  1. Brett Clark Says:

    While I have looked at the online training from Total Training, I prefer the DVD versions. I prefer not to have to download the lessons and the associated files. I also like the ability to go back and review subjects on skills that I do not use on a daily basis. Although I was the recent victim of layoff, I will be buying the Total Training CS3 Design Premium DVD’s ASAP.

  2. Laurens Says:

    I use Lynda.com regularly and like the quality of their training material. The problem with searching for stuff on Google is that you tend to only ask questions about things that you are aware of. As the saying goes: the worst kind of incompetence is not knowing what you don’t know.

  3. tele2002 Says:

    Ok ok, so the masses of free content out there on You Tube offers unstructured learning based on stuff you do know, so for instance I want to use the pen tool, but for stuff you don’t know, that is where the power paying for the training comes in. And really Lynda.com and Total Training offers amazing value when you subscribe since you also have access to all the applications you may wish to spread your wings to.

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