Guide on the Side - ASTD, Awesome Sites for Trainers and Others Who Develop Staff


Marie Wallace has enjoyed a fulfilling career as a librarian, beginning in 1951 in academia with the University of California and transitioning in 1971 into the private law library world until her 1995 retirement from O'Melveny & Myers. She is the 1997 recipient of the American Association of Law Libraries' highest honor, the Marian Gould Gallagher Distinguished Service Award. Throughout her professional life, Marie has been a guiding force in the Southern California Association of Law Libraries, Practising Law Institute's programs for law librarians and Teaching Legal Research in Private Law Libraries (TRIPLL).

Today, Marie has commenced on a new path she terms "Life in Progress," which enables her to pursue a diversity of interests as a master swimmer, law librarian, trainer, storyboarder and designer of wearable art. She continues to be a dynamic speaker and prolific writer on such topics as private law library management, presentations and training. She is a member of Toastmasters Internationaland is active with the American Society for Training Development (ASTD) and in continuing education for private law librarians. She devotes her "free" time to various non-profit and civic activities. Always open to new ideas, Marie can be reached at: ax852@lafn.org.

Full time trainers and professional human resource professionals are familiar with and most likely members of ASTD, The American Society for Training and Development. (http://www.astd.org) Professionals in other fields, who are involved in workplace training and professional development on an occasional basis, may not know about ASTD but should. ASTD offers a multidisciplinary approach and can help them train better and quicker.

What is ASTD? It is a non-profit professional association "delivering performance in a changing world." Founded in 1944, ASTD provides leadership to individuals, organizations and society to achieve work related competency, performance and fulfillment. Today it has about 45,000 members distributed in 150 chapters in all 50 states.

Most of the training and performance issues facing the legal community are ones that ASTD members has researched, worked with and can coach in summary, plain English fashion. ASTD tailors information to several levels: executive (broad vision), senior management (analysis), and middle management (application and delivery) on a variety of timely topics such as:

Knowledge management
Technology based learning
Distance learning
Converting face-to-face training to multimedia
Skill and competency testing
How to globalize training
Measuring training on more than one level.

How can I avail myself of ASTD resources if I am not a member?

  • Check out their Web site at http://www.astd.org. It is a virtual community providing access to conferences, seminars, learning communities, and a fabulous library staffed by training-wise librarians. Inform yourself by using their bibliographies.
  • Acquire a Reference Library of task-specific training materials, such the Info-Line publications. The Info-Line series are 16 to 20 page single-issue publications that provide practical, concise help for developing training programs and bringing you up-to-speed on a variety of "soft" skill topics related to all professions. Each Info-Line is packed with valuable, easy-to-read, information in a quickly digestible format--work sheets, job aids, case studies, templates, forms, tips, and techniques. Info-Lines are the answer to the re-current question "Quick tell me what to do now?" They can be ordered online as single issues for $10.00 plus shipping. You do not have to be a member.

Here is a selection of titles from the 140+ Info-Line series, some of which are also en Espanol:

  • Alternatives to Lecture
  • Action Learning
  • How to Prepare and Use Effective Visual Aids
  • Write Better Behavioral Objectives
  • Effective Job Aids
  • Instructional Objectives Lesson Design and Development
  • On-the-Job Training
  • How to Train Managers to Train Testing for Learning Outcomes
  • Read their annual Training Industry Report on training investments and practices in the United States. The 1999 ASTD State of the Industry Report indicates:

    "Throughout corporate American, firms are spending as much as 10 times per employee on information technologies (IT) as they are spending on training. Large IT investments are typically made on faith--with no compelling evidence of a payoff. Investments in education and training, however, are required to prove their worth." (Sound familiar?)

  • Participate in Chat Event, such as Knowledge Management.
  • Join a Discussion Forum.
  • Use the Product Index to find a training product.
  • Obtain training statistics.
  • Scan Training & Development and Technical Training magazines for tips and techniques.
  • Attend local chapter programs which are open to non-members. The program content is always topical and offers many networking opportunities. ASTD members are as helpful and friendly as law librarians.
  • Outsource the design and delivery of some kinds of training.
  • Hire a consultant to diagnose whether training is the solution to the problem. Broader organizational development issues often underlay poor performance.
  • Participate and learn the results of topical training surveys, such as the Penn State University survey on new learning technology.

ASTD research indicates that first time trainers usually default to the classroom face-to-face technology when designing training. But classroom training, although still predominate, is actually on the decline. ASTD can help you actively incorporate a potpourri of electronic technologies to deliver your training programs:

Cable TV
Computer-based training
CD-Rom
Electronic mail
Electronic performance support system (EPSS)
Extranet
Groupware
Interactive TV
Internet
Intranet
Local area network
Multimedia
Satellite TV
Teleconferencing
Virtual reality
Voice mail
Wide area network
World Wide Web

The training paradigm is quite different from the one for teaching, although there are similarities. Legal professionals tend to revert to the teaching model used in higher education when they design on-the-job training. Eventually they discover this does not get the results anticipated. If you share expertise with ASTD, you can avoid wasteful, trial-and-error learning experiences. Training experts can help you to:

Discover a results-oriented training model
Advise you on state-of-the-art methodology
Furnish training job aids that enrich your knowledge, skills and attitude
Understand training and development vocabulary and concepts
Red flag pitfalls to avoid
Summarize hot topics and issues
Start thinking outside your professional box.