By Lee Distad
If you’ve spent any time at all as an AV pro, then you’ve seen the inside of a classroom a few times, for seminars, certifications and ongoing product training. If you’re a veteran AV pro, then you’ve spent a lot of time in a classroom.
Regardless of whether you’re a veteran or a rookie, ongoing education is essential to staying on top of the skills and knowledge you need to remain useful.
Training courses, whether vendor or association delivered are structured to deliver an intensive learning experience for their students, not just from the material in the course guide, but tapping into the real-world experiences of not only the instructors but also the experiences of students.
With all the work that goes into developing and putting on training courses, not to mention what it costs your company to send you and your staff to them, it makes sense for students to maximize their course experience.
Whether you’re a veteran or a novice, here are six suggestions, beyond the obvious ones of pay attention and study that will help you be successful in both passing the exam and learning things that will advance your career.
- Get to know the other students. One of the major values of classroom training is the opportunity to meet and connect with peers in the industry. Wherever possible, sit with a group of people you don’t know, rather than your co-workers. It’s human nature to group with people you know, but you’ll learn more if you end up next to and having to work together with people you don’t know.
- There are two good reasons for that. The first is the cross pollination of information and ideas that occurs between industry peers who have just met. And the other is the networking: making contacts with new industry friends from all over. Whether you’re a salesperson, an installer or a general manager, it’s always good to meet new people.
- Next, take advantage of interaction in the classroom. There’s more to attending training than just reading the material that’s presented in the book. As mentioned earlier, one of the big benefits is the sharing of ideas and experiences amongst the participants. When instructors make use of real life examples, students who have extensive work experience can often offer comments and their own experiences relating to the subject matter.
- Related to the last point, it’s crucial for students to ask questions, whether it’s asking for clarification on the material that’s been presented, or if they have a specific experience of their own that they want help understanding. It’s widely understood by industry instructors that for every student who raises his hand, there are at least a half dozen others who have the same question, but are too bashful to ask. Speaking up and asking questions helps provide answers that benefit everybody.
- Don’t over-highlight your course materials. While highlighting relevant passages is important for test preparation, too many students take it too far, something I’ve been guilty of in the past. You want to be able to quickly find the material you’re looking for, and not drown it in a sea of yellow ink. Having every paragraph highlighted is just as unhelpful when looking for material as no highlighting at all.
- Lastly, tab your course books. This sounds fairly easy, but most people don’t know how. Bring color coded tabs from the office supply store to the class tabs, and tab your books. Index the tabs and place them so they can be read whichever way the book is open. It may seem trivial now, but when going back to your course materials as a resource it will be invaluable.
Lee Distad is a rAVe columnist and freelance writer covering topics from CE to global business and finance in both print and online. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org