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A viable alternative to classroom instruction is the professionally created training video. This form of training is efficient, informative, convenient, and technically accurate.

The tech boom is over. It is no longer a seller’s market. Many IT jobs are being outsourced abroad, so it’s important to be ready and equipped to compete for the ones that remain in the United States. Simply stated, IT professionals cannot get caught standing still. Those who want to be more employable or more valuable to their company need to strive to gain extra knowledge to get a competitive edge. Otherwise, an IT professional doing the same duties and providing the same services as everyone else, may find himself or herself expendable.

Training options available

There are a variety of training formats available to the IT professional, including books, classes, seminars, computer programs and videos. The costs of these products range from a few dollars to thousands of dollars.

Books are the least expensive but are also the least personal. When in print, the subject matter is always available to the learner. However, if there is a question on the interpretation of material, the reader may become confused, and the question goes unanswered. Also, learning through reading is not the most effective modality for many individuals.

Classroom learning is generally more informative. More knowledge is likely to be absorbed when material is presented by an individual or panel of experts, especially where dialogue and participation are encouraged. However, with the benefits also come increased costs. These expenditures include actual dollars for the cost of admission, travel, lodging and meals as well as the soft costs that include loss of work time.

A viable alternative to classroom instruction is the professionally created training video. This form of training is efficient, informative, convenient, and technically accurate. Videos capture the personal touch of the instructors and are affordable. Produced and delivered on a CD-ROM, they allow trainees to learn at their own pace and schedule.

The individual professional

It’s easy for IT professionals to use video skills training programs to enhance their careers. Training videos are especially attractive to individuals who don’t have time to attend classes or invest substantial dollars to bolster their experience and knowledge. They can select topics to increase proficiency with their existing ability or to learn new skills. Equally important, videos allow for the quick gathering of information that is not always learned in certification training.

Brian Hernandez, a network administrator from New Albany, Ohio uses video training on his own time.

“I’m able to take what I can from these products and review the material whenever I need to,” he says. “Before, I was basically maintaining someone else’s design at work. Now I’m more valuable. The videos have given me a foundation to build on.”

Training trends

Microsoft and Cisco and their subcategories are some of the more popular video training courses in the industry. This makes sense since Microsoft and Cisco are the two of the biggest selling systems in the market.

Online service is another new direction in the video training industry. Providing a streaming subscription accessible to customers 24/7, subscribers have access to entire libraries of videos allowing users to log-on anywhere at anytime to acquire the information that they need. These services are also a management tool allowing companies to record and track who from their organization is taking part in the training and when. Companies can see a return on investment from these reporting capabilities.

Other areas of new development in video include the training for voice-over IP and telephony. The new direction is voice and data network convergence. This technology is taking existing data networking infrastructure and adding voice to it (Internet phone systems).

Keep an eye on the future

IT professionals know that certifications get them in the door. But certification doesn’t always ensure that IT professionals know how to use exact technology required in their new positions. Nor does certification provide a vehicle for future learning.

That’s where video training can offer an option for gaining new skills and information in a just-in-time format.

It’s clear. To get ahead in this industry, individuals must enhance their value. Going 18 months without a new skill simply makes one obsolete.

Jeff Short is the director of marketing for CBT Nuggets Inc. based in Eugene, Ore.

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