Definition: “Best Free Training”

My objective with this blog is simple:

Find the best, free, self-contained training on
all sorts of topics, then tell everyone about it.

So … let’s define our terms.
Best: Now this is a loaded word! Saying something is “the best” is common in advertising… and generally regarded as “puffery,” or “flattering, often exaggerated praise…” * On the other hand, if we are going to say a particular training item is “the best” of its kind, we ought to have a common understanding of what we mean. So, I propose this definition: “Most satisfactory, suitable, or useful…” * OK… but, you ask, “According to whom?” Ahhh…! And that’s where you come in. The “best” is according to you, the person who attended the session or “took” the course or viewed the video or was a student of the training as it was intended. You can apply any criteria you like, so long as you are prepared to explain or defend your reasoning.  (Our Review Guidelines provide some 10 Suggested Review Criteria.)
* According to The American Heritage® Dictionary online
Training: Any sort of media presentation, event, and/or practice session which is intended to help people learn a specific new skill, acquire new and highly-focused information, or take a specific, highly-focused action. (I say “highly focused” here to distinguish training from editorializing kinds of presentations which simply try to change attitudes or informative kinds of presentations which provide sweeping background information or broad educational presentations which provide in-depth, content-heavy presentations to create a foundation for building specific skills later.) In other words, training typically leads to the ability, and often the desire, to do something new (perform a specific task).
Free training: Training with no strings attached whatsoever. Training that extracts from you no payment or promise to take further action on behalf of the author or publisher. [Caveat: Being asked to submit a follow-up evaluation or submit anonymous marketing research information, however, seems a fair and reasonable “price” to pay for “free” training.]
Self-contained training: Training that stands alone. Training that leaves you feeling satisfied when you’ve finished it. If you must purchase more training, more products, more services, or otherwise go beyond the training itself in order to receive value from the training, then it is not self-contained.

These Are Practical Working Definitions, Not Formal Training Jargon

Like every other profession, the training profession has developed a bunch of high-sounding concepts and terminology to subdivide, categorize, and analyze the many processes and procedures that guide its practitioners. (Hmmm… sounds burdensome, right? Well, it’s the kind of verbiage that keeps consulting rates up… so it has its place!)

In any case , here’s some good news: This blog is for everyone… It’s not particularly designed for training professionals.** So I’m going to try to cut through much of that stuff that we training professionals argue about and focus on a few key distinctions that, I hope, will help the discussion flow a little better for training consumers. If and when training professionals show up in our discussions, I am going to discourage our getting into hair-splitting esoterics or see-how-smart-I-am rants. The object of the game in the preceding paragraphs: Lay out some practical, working definitions that can help us all be “on the same page,” terminology-wise, with our reviews. (BTW: I reserve the right to edit, delete, and add some stuff here as we learn what will best suit the blog’s participants.)

[Definition: “Best Free Training” ver. 1, Feb. 22, 2008]

** Training professionals: Please see Note To Training Professionals