Offering more than cookie-cutter training.
There are many training providers, touting a dizzying array of educational products. But Christopher Seale, founder of the Atlanta-based Seale Group, thinks there’s a better way to get students up to speed than simply throwing some software at them. He talks about the challenges and delights of focusing on each student as an individual, and getting to the “Aha!” moment.
Why did you decide to start the company?
The Seale Group, Inc. was founded in 1982 with the goal of providing high quality instructor-led technical training in information technology and has grown to offering a blended solution of technology-based instruction as well. We offer courses in the latest security techniques, operating systems, programming languages, networking, and database technologies. Here, students do not get lost in a sea of numbers because we create a learning environment where the focus is on the individual learner. Gone are the days of one-size-fits-all training strategy.
There seem to be many players in the IT training industry now; how does your company distinguish itself?
We design and deliver training to fit the subject to the client needs rather than buying an off-the-shelf solution. Third-party solutions are created as a one-size-fits-all answer and, more times than not, don’t give the student what they need.
Do you do customizations on an individual student level?
Other than courses that we custom design for our clients, all of our open-enrollment classes have customizations. At the beginning of a class, the students are asked if there are any specific topics or concepts for which they have an immediate need back at the office. Any needed topics are then incorporated into the class sessions as appropriate. All off-topic or beyond-the-scope topics are addressed individually with the students on breaks and after class. Additional materials are provided as necessary to support the information covered in the class sessions. This can only be achieved by using great instructors who are very experienced in both teaching and the subject matter they are presenting.
What kind of reaction do you see to these customized courses?
Students who come to class needing answers to specific problems are very excited to learn that our instructors will include information to aid them. Students that come to class without any specific needs are interested in seeing how the issues that affect other working professionals are resolved.
How is the current economic climate affecting how companies approach training needs?
Over the last 20 years we have seen that in any economic downturn, corporations tend to freeze training budgets almost immediately. Few corporations see training as a vital component to maintaining morale. But employees see training as a benefit of employment. So, ensuring that staff still has the opportunity to grow, both personally and professionally, allows a corporation the ability to keep the best employees. Providing training when projects are slow is a win-win situation. Employees are motivated to learn and to develop new skills. The current economic climate gives employers the time to train their best workers.
What’s the best part of your job?
Unlike the CEO’s of most training companies, I’m in the classroom more than 50 percent of the time. I love learning and helping others. As an instructor, I’m able to help students achieve their goals by guiding them to a better understanding of the topic. I love the “Aha!” moment, when all of the pieces fall into place and a student suddenly sees the big picture, not just the key words and syntax. You can almost see the cartoon light bulb go on over their head. Teaching is more than telling someone how to do something, it’s getting them to understand how the knowledge they have acquired will help them in their jobs and careers.
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