Technology Skills Resource for Those With a ZERO Budget

If you work in an organisation where there is a large enough budget to support external delivery of material or online subscription databases such as that support independent learning, lucky you!

If you (like me) work with a more restricted budget… say anything from $0 to even $100 a person per year for Professional Development, you will likely have experienced frustrations with trying to source external support, or gotten exceedingly good at the skill of pleading, bargaining, bartering and sharing.

While all of these methods are often necessary and usually effective, it’s also nice to occasionally come across an external resource that is:

  1. Focusing on an area where you have no or limited internal resources
  2. High quality and user friendly
  3. Free!!!!

When gems such as these are found, they should be shared with your fellow L&D community and enthusiastic learners. So, let me share with you my latest find.

Who will this help

Working in the Emergency Service Sector, we have an abundance of experts for technical and rescue skills. We also have a lot of ‘field’ people who’s role now includes documenting, budgeting, tracking and a heap of other office based tasks (usually involving computer programs). Techno-literacy is becoming an increasing issue across organisations, especially as more work and learning becomes device based. There isn’t usually time or suitable resources for one-on-one training, or a lot of cash for a course.

Where do you need to go

logo  Check out The Global Community Foundation International

All learning opportunities (tutorials, classes, articles, videos modules, and interactive lessons) are completely free to all users. If you register for a free account they will also track your progress and give you a transcript for work completed.

The focus is mainly on technology skills, with straightforward bite size sessions, accompanied by step by step instructions, practice documents, supporting videos and adequate screen shots to explain everything.

One quote on the site summed it up for me:

I have paid money for classes that were not nearly as well organised or as helpful.

Note: Brio has no affiliation with GCFI and there are no kick-backs for us. This is just a community service announcement 🙂

Training Tweak: Better Reflections

As trainers and assessors, we recognise that powerful learning comes not from doing something, but from learners reflecting on what they did, why they did it and how it worked out. Great trainers include reflection activities and debriefs as key parts of any training sessions. Just like a mirror – we ask learners to look at themselves and share what they see.

mirrorHowever, ask any number of people and they will tell you that some mirrors are better than others. Even excluding weird and wonderful versions you find at the Fun Parks,  ‘normal’ mirrors can give you different views of yourself. (And of course there is the magic mirrors that are happy to tell you that you are the fairest in all the land.)

So what happens when one of our learner seems to be staring into a mirror that isn’t giving a very honest reflection of themselves, or who only takes a quick glance?

You may get one of those learners who either can’t seem to see any deficiencies with their performance or, just as awfully, can’t see any of the positive things that they have done. Maybe they try and rush through a reflection with a one word answer. Maybe they are expecting you to tell them what you see and think (unfortunately a bad habit of many trainers and assessors, especially those short on time!)

A few choice questions and phrases might just tweak that reflection process.

Note: The tweak below is going to work best if you have dutifully watched the learner and thought about some key learning points to guide the reflection. Also, it works from the idea that the learning comes from the learner doing the thinking helped by your questioning – NOT by you doing the talking and stating. Have your question list handy with your note pad.

Guiding questions for effective reflections

Getting started – use a question break the ice!
  • How do you think that went?
  • How are you feeling now? Why?
  • How do you think you performed?
  • What do you think went well? What did you find tricky about this situation?

    Any of these are great open questions that allows the learner to share their thoughts without influence from you. For learners who reflect well it may be all you need. For everyone else, it gives you an indication of what personality type and skill level you are dealing with, and breaks the ice for what comes next.

Follow up questions – tunnel down to reach the points you want learners to reflect on
  • I saw….
  • I heard…

These two are all about your observations. They are non judgemental. They are not arguable. They may also highlight something the learner doesn’t remember or even realise happened. Starting with a statement is a great way to introduce something (positive or negative) to guide the learner in their reflection – particularly when followed up with questions that makes them explain things from their view and think through the consequences. for example:

  • When xxx happened, what were you thinking about?
  • Why did you decide to do xxx?
  • What do you think might have happened as a result of that?
  • What other options did you consider/could you have considered?
Make sure the learning points are clear – summarise reflection or give further guidance
  • So if you had to do this task again, what would you do differently?
  • What are a couple of key things you are going to focus on more next time?
  • What’s the best take away/lesson you have gained from this activity?
  • What do you think you need to practice more of?

Sometimes discussions can go for a while – a lot is discussed and the key points may get lost in the mix. Taking a minute to have learners summarise their main learning points is essential. Creating an action plan helps make sure the reflection time is most useful.

You may have a couple of extra points from things you observed. You can share with the learner anything they didn’t cover if you think it will really add to their learning experience (Don’t get too picky!) Your favourite line to the learner should hopefully be “During your reflection you covered off all the key things I had noticed. We are on the same page, so I don’t have much more to add except well done!”

For learners who just didn’t get to key learning points through honest reflection – even after your careful questioning, here is your chance to just give it to them straight. Give feedback in a simple way – including a couple of things you thought went OK, before telling them a couple of things  you want to see happen differently and why.

If you are short on time, rather than falling back into the habit of telling, just keep the reflection focused on one or two learning points.


Training a Wider Membership Spectrum

volunteering-reimagined-banner_1366x500.jpgAs part of the AFAC 2017 conference held in Sydney last month, I saw a presentation by NSW SES about their new vision for membership types – aptly named Volunteering Reimagined. For further information check out:

Many Emergency Services in Australia already have different types of members for which they need to manage training, assessment and currency:

  • Full time
  • Part time
  • Retained/Casual
  • Volunteer

NSW SES now highlights the further variety of volunteers that can support the organisation during emergencies, including:

  • Spontaneous Volunteers (as also highlighted by recent Australasian research)
  • Corporate Volunteers
  • Community Action Teams (casual volunteers)

While there is much to be appreciated about their reasons and goals for this new vision, as a trainer I immediately had a ton of questions about the practicalities of managing a new spectrum of members. In particular I wondered:

What is the impact at the local and regional levels?
  • How will trainers and assessors need to adapt training calendars and general availability of training to meet all the needs?
  • Will there be a need for more trainers and assessors (is there increased workload)?
  • Will some of these new volunteers actually not need “offical” trainers or assessors to complete their training? Is there new roles for some keen and experienced members to take the lead?
What is the impact at the State level?
    • Do existing training materials need to be recreated in different ways to meet the needs of new volunteer types?
    • What role (if any) does nationally accredited training play in any new training that needs to be developed?
    • What training and assessment records need to be maintained for new volunteer types, and will the current system manage this?

Some other ideas that excitedly started running around my brain included:

  • What a great chance to develop some training that really focuses on the ‘need to know’ rather than the ‘nice to know’
  • What a great chance to roll out training in a way that is accessible for the ‘just in time’ rather than the ‘just in case’
  • What a great chance to utilise all the buddy trainers that currently exist inside an organisation – because quite a few of these new volunteers could potentially be learning on the job
  • Here’s a good chance to see how brave members inside an organisation can be: how will everyone respond to this change? There will definitely be some real change champions and case studies to come out of this! (Maybe next AFAC Conference??)

I’m sure there will be many aside from myself who look forward to seeing how NSW SES Volunteering Reimagined becomes reality! Hopefully there are highlights and lessons learned to help others consider how things could look in their own organisation.

Velg Training: Next week is National VET PD Week

About Velg Training

velg.jpgIf you are not a member of Velg Training or haven’t even heard of them before, its time to check them out:

Even if you don’t have a paid membership, you can be a Follower for free and get regular updates on the industry that Emergency Services Training works within. The website itself has a good knowledge hub for resources to help ensure you have compliant training and assessment.

Note: there are several Emergency Services that keep an organisational Membership that you might be able to access.  Talk to your L&D team.

National VET PD Week

Next week, from 23-27th October, Velg Training and ACPET are hosting the inaugural National VET PD Week!

You can check out all the offerings by clicking here: 10 experts, 10 webinars over 5 days

For those of us with limited time and budget for getting our own development, there may be something that interests you. At $49 for the webinar, it is a small investment but cheaper than many other offerings around at the moment.

Some of the topics were sounding particularly interesting for Trainers and Assessors, not just developers! How about…

  • Effective Training Techniques – Understanding how to use C.O.R.E. – Closers, Openers, Revisiters, Energisers
  • How to change your teaching style to accommodate different learning levels (AQF levels)
  • Five challenges for Assessor

Velg Training issues certificates of attendance, so you will have evidence to help show how you are maintaining your currency in VET skills.

Note: Brio Consulting has no affiliation with Velg Training (although we choose to maintain our membership with them for our own PD purposes)

Overcoming Optimum Bias

Would you cross the road at this 80 KPH location?


What about if a 10 year old child was crossing the road with you?
What about if you knew that two pedestrians have been killed at this location?

Would you stand unsecured on the edge of a 12 storey building?


What would you change in your thinking if someone told you that getting hit by a car travelling at 80kph as you crossed the median strip was equivalent to falling off a 12 storey building?

Sometimes our perceptions and risk assessments look on the bright side of things…

Let’s talk about Optimum Bias

Optimism bias (also known as unrealistic optimism) is a cognitive bias that causes a person to believe that they are at a lesser risk of experiencing a negative event compared to others.

I first heard this term at an Ambulance Service NSW training session on risk assessment, and have not heard anyone refer to the term since… but the concept is so true, and gives a label to an idea I know some trainers and assessors try to raise awareness of in any training and risk assessment they are involved in.

Research says that optimum bias transcends characteristics such as gender, race or age. Each of us have this bias, influenced by the following factors:

  1. Our desired end state (goals)
  2. Our style of thinking and decision making
  3. The beliefs we have about ourselves versus others
  4. Our overall mood

While this concept can help our thinking in positive ways, research shows that it is more likely to have negative effects – leading us to engage in activities that hold more risk, or us not taking the right precautionary measures for safety.

What might this look like in the Emergency Services?

Do you (or someone you know) display any of the following?

  • Responders who tend to focus on finding information that supports what they want to see happen, rather than what will actually happen to them
  • Team members who are overly confident about their skill set… until they find out they are going to be tested on it (then they get quite modest)
  • Officers who believes they will not be harmed in a car accident if they are driving the vehicle because they are in control
  • Officers who tend to think in stereotypes rather than the actual targets when making comparisons, e.g. bad drivers cause crashes (discounting all the average drivers who also are involved in crashers), or low socioeconomic demographics have higher levels of heart disease and heart attacks (discounting all those people of high socioeconomic backgrounds in other areas that also have heart disease)
  • Team members who bases risk assessments on their own specific experiences and feelings, while ignoring what may be experienced by others and the average person
  • Responders who thinks the risk is lower or “it won’t happen to me” until a familiar person, such as a friend or family member, is involved in an incident or has that problem

These are all examples of optimum bias.

What might be key consequences be of not considering our optimum biases when we work?

  • Less effective risk assessment of situations we are putting ourselves and team mates into
  • Not taking enough preventative measures to ensure the safety of ourselves and others
  • Getting ourselves into tricky situations or causing further damage when we overestimate our ability
  • Missing possible causes of situations (or health conditions) from having a selective view of things

What can we do to reduce optimum bias in our work?

Studies have shown that it is very difficult to eliminate optimistic bias; however, raising awareness of and reducing this bias could encourage people to adapt to more risk-aware behaviours. More specifically, we can try to:

  • Keep it close to home: encourage comparison and thinking of ourselves and those close to us. This heightens our emotions and our level of concern about risks
  • Increase experience and exposure: actually experiencing an event leads to a decrease in optimum bias. This is hard to do in many Emergency Service situations – so think about the importance of simulations, scenario based training and purposeful sharing of experiences to help build memory slides in individuals. At the very least having an awareness of the previously unknown will reduce the optimism of “it will never happen to me”
  • Make sure you consider the big picture: stand back and take a situation in – don’t focus too early on specific theories, or don’t eliminate other possibilities until you have more data and observations to give you a good picture of what else might be happening
  • Expect the unexpected: just because you haven’t seen it happen before doesn’t mean that it can’t or won’t happen. Look up “black swan” theory if you are interested in this idea.

Language, Literacy, Numeracy (LLN) in Australian Emergency Services

The Challenge

Historically the emergency services have conducted a high percentage of face to face, hands on practical training.  However with the move to nationally accredited training and the introduction of the Public Safety Training Package  in the late 1990’s (as well as changes in community expectations, legal pressures and changing technologies) there has become an increase in written training materials, pre-course work, self-directed learning and online training. While creating opportunities for flexible learning, this increasingly raises the issue of Language, Literacy and Numeracy (LLN).

If you accept that the members of our emergency services are a representation of the Australian community they serve, then it is possible that 13.7% of the members have literacy levels of 1 or lower (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2013). This figure is consistent with other research into volunteer emergency services, which found that of those surveyed, 15% indicated that literacy was an issue for them. The sector is increasingly facing LLN challenges due to the diverse nature of our workforce.

The History


Despite there being Government policies and programs for decades, many expert groups have felt LLN skill development has not been given the value, funding or attention it deserves.  More specifically,  programs that have been developed are fragmented, contradictory and contain ad hoc strategies.

After 20 years of no new policy, 2012 saw the long-expected release of the National Foundation Skills Strategy (NFSS) which introduced a change in LLN terminology – no longer being referred to as LLN skills but as Foundation Skills – which was defined as a combination of English language, literacy, numeracy and employability skills. The introduction of this strategy and the Australian Core Skills Framework (ACSF), has seen qualifications for trainers and assessors updated to focus more on meeting the needs of adult literacy and numeracy needs. This was acheived through the inclusion of an additional compulsory competency (currently TAELLN411).

Actions Taken

This competency has been rolled out to many members of the Emergency Services (specifically those required to hold the Cert IV in Training and Education) however for many more mentors, or trainers who hold only the Enterprise Trainer and Assessor skill sets, this professional development may have passed them by.

More recently, most emergency service organisations have introduced documentation of the Australian Core Skills Framework (ACSF) levels into their training and assessment material to assist with identifying the necessary levels needed to undertake the training/assessment. Whilst some changes have been made within training materials to better reflect these levels a lot of training and assessment tasks still involve the completion of large amounts of reading, and tests such as multiple choice or written questions.

Generally all necessary documentation used by trainers, assessors and learners now includes a statement about how learners who require extra support can access this. Information is also included in learner/student handbooks if produced by the organisation. This in part links to requirements for maintaining RTO compliance.

With regards to online learning, organisations have started including the use of voice over, video support and a better percentage of animation/graphics to text to reduce literacy load of content – however online learning also presents an increased issue of digital literacy issues.

Many individual trainers and assessors within organisations have used various strategies informally to meet the learner requirements  – including the provision of practical, hands-on training, reader and writer support and spending additional time on written material where required.

Some organisations have introduced foundation skills testing as part of the recruitment process to identify learner issues that may require support – or to ensure learners hold the minimum required levels for their roles prior to being offered a position. This strategy has proved more challenging (logistically, financially and ethically) for the volunteer emergency services than services employing full time members.

Some organisations are beginning to introduce policy and guidelines to provide specific or practical suggestions to support trainers and assessors, or have identified “specialist” support personnel within the organisation that can be contacted for further guidance.

There is no doubt that emergency service organisations know that these issues exist – however without some clear cut, more recent data everyone is using best guesses to determine exactly how much of an issue our sector may have. With so many other competing demands, it’s also unsurprising that budget and time to develop support strategies and documentation for LLN/Foundation Skills is not a top priority.

Moving Forwards

So for those of us who are face to face with the learners who require extra support, what options do you have if you feel that organisationally the whole LLN/Foundation Skills thing is a bit wishy washy? Or that what is provided isn’t enough to meet the needs you have?

  • Contact someone – on a case by case basis, talk to your L&D Officer, your state level L&D Section or your identified LLN specialist in the organisation. Get some specific advice and help.
  • Look outside the organisation – within our sector another organisation may have some information that can help you out, such as guidelines or strategies that they suggest work for the type of training we all do.
  • Look outside the sector – there is a HEAP of specialist websites and organisations designed to support learners with needs and give suggestions for trainers and assessors who are working with them.
  • Encourage the individual learner to seek support and development – they can contact the Reading/Writing Hotline, or take a basic course at TAFE designed to develop adult literacy and numeracy skills.  This could be a chance to improve not just their participation in your training, but a chance to improve their future learning and opportunities in life.
  • Do some Professional Development for your own benefit – even if your organisation isn’t offering anything in this area at the moment, it doesn’t need to stop you!

Check out these suggestions:


This blog post comes thanks to the research and writing contributions
of Natalie Cassone

Training Tweak: Demonstrations

A word I love finding in training sessions is “demonstrate” or “show”. This is quite a traditional training strategy which works from the understanding that you can learn by doing, and that skills can be developed by imitation.

A great thing about demonstration is that visual learners will get the idea much better when they can see it with their own eyes, rather than try to understand a verbal explanation.

There is however a particular method of demonstrating a skill that is (in my opinion) superior to many others. It will support visual, auditory and kinaesthetic learners, while also reducing the need to retrain the brain after a skill has been imitated and learnt incorrectly (It takes about 40 instances of conscious effort to retrain the brain to do something the right way automatically, so let’s just get it right the first time!)

While many trainers may know know this demonstration method, I am spreading the message to anyone who can benefit from this tweak.

So let’s start by learning a little rhyme. Whenever you see the word “demonstrate” in a training session plan, you should be saying this in your head:

I show you once,

I show you slow,

We do it together,

Off you go!

These are the four steps to ensure a great demonstration. Let’s break it down a bit more.

1. I show you once

Emphasis on show. Close your mouth. This step is not an explanation – it is a full speed demonstration, providing an excellent example of what the skill should look like when done by a competent person.

2. I show you slow

Now you can talk while you show. This is your step by step explanation of what you just showed – sharing those tips and checks that a competent person knows, so learners will know when they have done it the right way. Learners can ask questions and clarify their understanding.

3. We do it together

Now its time for you to be quiet again. You are a puppet – the learners will tell you what to do, and you will do the skill. This helps them to clarify their understanding and show you that they have remembered all the key things. You can pick up mistakes before things are cemented into brains the wrong way. You can prompt with questions or ask for further direction if you need to. Using this format, everyone’s attention is still on the same person and same conversation. (Alternatively, if you can manage to keep everyone together, then each learner can do it at the same time while talking through the steps).

Note: This step is crucial, but it is often the one trainers forget or skip. If you want to make sure learners are confident and have a clear, correct idea of what to do take the time to do this step right.

4. Off you go!

As a trainer you can now be confident that the learners have the right idea as to what needs to be done. They can go and practice independently… but don’t get complacent – your job is not quite done! You now need to observe and check every learner – to make sure that they are doing it the right way, and to give tips and tricks to make the skill easier based on what they are doing. Encourage learners to verbalise the steps to help reinforce it in their brains.

Another hint: For large, long, or complex skills, don’t forget to chunk it into smaller pieces for demonstration, before putting it all together.

Now let’s break this down to see how this supports different learners:

  1. I show you once: Visual
  2. I show you slow: Visual, auditory
  3. We do it together: Visual, auditory, sometimes kinaesthetic
  4. Off you go: Kinaesthetic, auditory

Does this way take more time… yes it can do. But consider it a saving of time you won’t need to spend providing a ton of feedback, corrections and further explanations.


Social Media Learning

I have started cyber-stalking someone across several social media platforms. She doesn’t know it yet… but I am fascinated by the way she is interacting in different communities of practice and the way she is contributing to social media learning in these different forums.

I think when I get the chance to eventually speak with her in person, I want to ask her questions like:

  • What’s your motivation for spending your time and effort sharing all this information and links on these social media groups?
  • What benefits are you getting from doing this?
  • How do you get your learning and developments needs met?
  • How do you find all this great information to share?
  • What is your understanding of social media learning?

About social media learning

Do some research on Albert Bandura and you will learn about Social Learning Theory – that people learn through observing others’ behavior, attitudes, and the outcomes of those behaviors. Social media learning is a more generic take on this, where people in a common online environment observe one another – comparing themselves against each other, and use each other as a neutral source of information, which may help their own learning.

Social media learning and the Emergency Services

If you are on social media and part of an organisation, you may already be aware of different social media groups you can join. For example, there are:

  • Closed groups on Facebook for members only – generic questions and discussions about working in the organisation, e.g. NSW RFS members, St John Ambulance NSW State Operations Group, VICSES Volunteers, MFB Friends
  • Groups on Facebook aimed specifically at subsections of the organisation – including trainers and assessors, e.g. NSW RFS young members group, NSW SES Training Coordinators,  CFA Community Safety Coordinators
  • Groups (usually closed) on Facebook for specific locations – such as a branch, brigade or unit to discuss local issues, e.g. NSW RFS Illawarra District, CFA District 8 Members Group, NSW SES Ryde Unit, ASNSW Induction Course 225
  • Network groups on Linkedin – based on common interests or organisations, e.g. AIDR, AFAC, Professionals in Emergency Management, National RTO Network
  • Twitter hashtags (#) that you can search to see certain threads, or perhaps particular thought leaders or key individuals who post interesting information and generate conversation that has others from the sector joining in and sharing, e.g. Shane Fitzsimmons, Craig Lapsley, Stuart Ellis, Katarina Carroll, EmergencyVol, Emergency.Life 

Benefits of Social Media Learning in the Emergency Services Sector

For those who can’t remember time before social media and online communities, this is just a normal part of connecting and learning. For those of us who are digital immigrants, this can open up a whole new world of opportunities.

We are a comparatively small sector, often divided by geographical locations and the daily reality of shift work and competing priorities. Social media learning offers a way to connect with other thinkers and learners, be exposed to new ideas, find out about new technology and to hear various points of view on different issues. It doesn’t matter where you are or when you can log on, you can still be a part of the conversation. As a bonus, you can often get a more holistic view on things and a wider variety of tried and tested ideas if your group includes participants from different areas and organisations/states.

Each person can customise their networks, groups and connections to align with their individual roles, interests and development areas. It’s a great example of differentiated and student-led learning.

You can ask questions and post problems – taking advantage of the social collective to help thrash out some ideas (at any time of the day or week) and you will often be offered starting points and links for further research.

You can be as passive or actively involved as your inclination and free time allows.

These groups can be a great way to maintain your professional/vocational currency and to develop your knowledge and skill sets. It may also present opportunities for face to face PD events that you wouldn’t otherwise have heard about.

Hopefully there are also enough experienced members or those with expertise who have also joined the world of online communities to share knowledge and experience with those new to the sector.

Shout Out

To those already involved in the online communities, and who so proactively share articles, pictures and ideas that they have found with the rest of us – thank you! Thanks for making the learning of the rest of us easier (and hopefully it doesn’t make us lazier and too reliant on you!)

Take the Leap: Rediscover Learning


September 1st – 8th is National Adult Learner’s Week!

Learning is a lifelong activity that shouldn’t end with schooling or basic training. There are so many different opportunities for us to continue learning throughout our lives! Adult Learner’s Week is about showing the breadth of opportunities available for adults who want to learn – and they say that there are about eight million Australians learning for work or pleasure each year.

Rediscovering learning for some of us is about getting prepared for a new job or career change, while for others its about gaining life skills, giving back to their community, building confidence, or (one of our favourites) simply to pursue a passion or interest.

There are so many benefits to being a lifelong learner!

  1. Opportunities for new roles – staying up to date and being flexible – you are more able to adapt to change
  2. Personal satisfaction and increased self-esteem from completing something challenging
  3. Taking advantage of the freedom to learn as an adult – in the way, time and place that suits you
  4. Keeping your mind sharp and thinking flexible as you get older
  5. Opportunities to meet new people and make new connections

Our world is changing around us in such a frantic pace that if we do not continue to grow and develop; we will soon be left behind. In the 21st century, we all need to be lifelong learners. We need to continually keep our skills sharp and up to date so that we have an edge in all we do. Of course, we all have a natural desire to learn for adapting to change, enriching and fulfilling our lives.

Source: lifelong learning – why do we need it?

How long has it been since you did something for your own learning and development? What are your goals at the moment?

  • Check out available courses through your organisation, or think about all the other places that are offering great training
  • Visit a library (in person or online) and see what is on offer
  • Join an online community of practice
  • Find a mentor to help you develop some skills

Want to find out more?

To find out more about Adult Learners’ Week visit or check out the feeds on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram #ALW2017.

Generational Loss in Training


Most, if not all, emergency services in Australia work on a ‘Train the Trainer’ model for developing the people who will be leading training and assessment events for members. This model has proven highly effective in many ways.

  • Cost control: subsequent groups of trainers and assessors can be trained and mentored ‘in house’ by more experienced members of the training team.
  • Content contextualisation:  the material can be shared and discussed in a way that takes into consideration the agency and the location where the training and assessment is occuring.
  • Availability: this model works for the geographically dispersed nature of an agency across the state as regional or local Learning and Development people can often organise and run trainer development sessions, and then send the trainers back to their areas to carry on.

There is however a known (although maybe not well documented) issue with our approach: There is generational loss in the quality of our trainers and assessors.

Generation loss: Anything that reduces the quality of the representation when copying, and would cause further reduction in quality on making a copy of the copy, can be considered a form of generation loss.

Source: Wikipedia


Let’s track the development of trainers and assessors over several generations to see how this occurs.

Generation One: The Source

The initial group of trainers and assessors are usually gain their knowledge from ‘the source’, whether this be an external expert or at a State level workshop. Sometimes they are the Subject Matter Experts who develop the course! This generation of trainers and assessors have a full explanation of the whats and whys. They understand the reasons behind the rules, and appreciate why different activities and equipment are included in training and assessment material. The consistency of trainers and assessors who go back and deliver material across the state is comparatively high to subsequent generations.

Generation Two: The Disciples

The next generation of trainers and assessors often observe and are mentored by this first generation who learnt from the source. They may not fully appreciate all the whys, but they have a pretty good picture of what the content should look like. In delivery, the consistency of their training can still be quite high – although if questioned the reasoning for why things are done may not be so clear.

Generation Three and beyond: The Followers

The following generations of trainers and assessors seem to lose a little bit of knowledge and skill in each subsequent generation. Without refreshing knowledge and skills from ‘the source’ we start to see things like:

  • Rules, statements and methods not found in the materials and not present in the initial generation of training. (We know those idiosyncrasies that units/branches/stations seem to develop.) To see a good experiment that shows how this happens in action, check out this video. Its actually on social conformity, but its very funny and gets the same idea across!
  • Skipped or skimmed over activities and topics that are considered to be less important or ‘something we just have to do, but we don’t really use it’.
  • Trainers and assessors who know that something should be done, but can’t explain the reason behind the rules or the techniques.
  • Loss of finesse, and not knowing the tips/tricks when completing skills and tasks that make it high quality.

Reducing Generational Loss in Training

You may think that having state level developed standardised session plans and assessment documentation would eliminate this issue, but you are wrong.

I have yet to see any documentation that includes enough detailed information that can explain to trainers and assessors exactly why everything is in there, or how they should be doing something. This is because we assume a level of technical expertise and understanding from our trainers and assessors and we rely on the ‘train the trainer’ model to get this information across to them before we let them loose on the membership unsupervised. (See above for reasons why this isn’t foolproof).

It may be obvious, but worth stressing the importance of exposing trainers and assessors to ‘the source’. If state level workshops are an excellent way to do this but if they are not an option, having a video library or further supporting documentation that explains things for trainers and assessors is a very good idea.

Moderation of trainers and assessors is also needed. We need to eliminate silos of practice and be mixing people from different locations and from different generations of trainers and assessors is a key way to expose inconsistencies of understanding and practice, not to mention a requirement for maintaining our standards as Registered Training Organisations.

All trainers and assessors are individuals – we will never eliminate inconsistencies, but we can definitely do more to ensure the quality of our training is not watered down over the generations.