Sunday, December 30, 2012

A practical approach to training

Since my training post was rather well visited (thank you, and it was a little vague, let me give some practical advice I've found useful after running the IWO/IDWO training program for the last three months.

- Exam security is a problem that can quickly shut down any program. Rather than storing exams on a share folder, build a database of questions on content management software (the DoD has a number of licenses, some information available here: and create a new exam each time. You can better restrict access (especially using Questionmark) and having a previous exam won't help someone cheat.

- Constant quizzing is key. Getting your trainees to take weekly quizzes keeps the content fresh without taking but 10-15 minutes a week. Your sailors waste more time on Facebook, so don't take "I'm too busy to do quizzes" as an answer.

- Post your results. On the submarine, I was getting tired of correcting log errors. I would fix 20-30 errors per set of log, and despite yelling at the sailors, nothing was getting fixed. So I posted a graph in the passageway of how many errors each sailors had on logs. That peer pressure got everyone's attention, and I went from correcting about 95 errors per log set to 3 errors per log set. Posting your quiz and sample test results will keep some friendly competition on your sailors.

- Reward results. Even better, if you give out a 48 hour liberty chit to your top performer each month, you'd be surprised how serious your sailors take your quizzing.

- Make your training materials easy to find. I'm a big fan of wikis. I have most of our training materials on the JWICS Intellipedia wiki, or you can use the SIPR wiki or even the Unclass wiki at I find all the references to the PQSs and JQRs my sailors need, upload them to Inteldocs, and link to them on the wiki, so that when new sailors come in, they can find everything on one page. When you minimize the amount of time your sailors spend finding stuff, you make it easier for them to qualify.

- Making the qualification portion regimented. Boards and exams have to be easy to schedule. I remember waiting ages for my EDMC to give me an EOOW exam, which I ended up taking late one night because it was done at the last minute. Regularly scheduling exams and boards makes it easy for trainees to prepare for them and pass them.

Hopefully these help...any other recommendations (especially for software recommendations) are greatly appreciated!