Name (yoz) wrote,

Toile^H^H^H^Himecard training

Today (yesterday) was an amazing composition of lectures. Artin's lecture was probably interesting but I skipped it to work on a paper, which, in fact, I should now be writing. Harmony and Counterpoint wasn't a lecture so much as a quiz; all I learned was that I seem to take tests at ludicrous speed, regardless of the subject matter. The offical Pecker Floor Bad Idea was pretty well presented; we finally got to the afeared Bessel functions, and the breakdown of diffusion equations was interesting, since we've been ruthlessly making simplifying assumptions and it's nice to see where they go worng.

The stunning juxtaposition, though, was between 6.UAT and the RCC timecard training (which I went to as an OLC consultant). In 6.UAT, Tony Eng discussed engaging the audience. The lecture was a demonstration in itself; one brave student got up and gave a talk over and over, but with less and less time to do it. The gem was really Tony's question to the class, "How long should you wait before answering your own question?" followed by several seconds of silence, followed by the class's breakdown into laughter. Essentially, the lecture presented what should be obvious or common sensical points about engaging the audience while engaging the audience.

Now, timecard training? What in Gehennom? How hard can it be to use a timecard? Apparently, the folks developing the new online timecard system thought we needed an hour's worth of training. Never mind that they didn't come prepared, not knowing we already used an online timecard system. But the level of detail in the explanations was mind-befuddling.

Imagine, if you will, a bowl. Your higher-ups decide to train you to use it. You are told this bowl is for containing liquids. Fine. One look at it is enough to tell you how it works; the concavity keeps stuff from falling out, you can tip it to drink from it without aid of utensils, and so on. But suppose now your training involves watching the trainer's associate laboriously pour some sample liquid into a sample bowl, and, of course, sample it, as a demonstration of how it works. Oh, don't forget, you have to drink from the bowl to ingest the liquid. But wait, there's more! The bowl can be used to contain solid foods as well! Repeat ad nauseam. (You also get a handout with printed slides portraying the bowl in exactly the positions demonstrated; you get the impression the demonstration was reconstructed from the slides.)

Unbelievably, this is perhaps the most appropriate analogy to how the training went. Here is yon web form. Here you can click a button and this is what happens when you do. Don't forget, you have to click the save button for your changes to be recorded! The trainer's associate laboriously enters in sample data while you follow along with the printed slides, anticipating her every move. And ho! there are more web forms, so you can repeat ad nauseam. The beginning went extremely slowly, and no one asked any questions (in 6.UAT, we decided this signified either understanding or confusion; it was obvious which it was). Boredom bivouaced in our midst.

When the presenter got to the most relevant web form, there were several questions asked (which, as I learned in 6.UAT, is a sign the presentation went well, but in this case, a misleading one). I pointed out a design flaw that seemed to get glossed over. Leaving for a meeting, I stayed for only 30 minutes out of 45 or so, but was certain the entire training could have been completed in 5.

So, 6.UAT-style, I have spent a long time describing something obvious. The moral of the story is: Don't belabor the obvious.
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