Remember those huge lecture halls in college with more than 100 students jammed into an auditorium, or even classes of 30 kids or more in high school? How easy was it to zone out, not pay attention, or just get lost in the crowd?
Ever have that experience doing product training with a manufacturer of consumer electronics products? Large class sizes can really influence how effective a training will be and just how much you get out of it.
A few weeks ago, I posted a story about the importance of a great rep firm with an on-site training facility. Well, it doesn’t apply just to rep firms. Being able to do a hands-on training with a manufacturer is crucial, and doubly so when it's for an AV control system.
While traveling to Clare Controls home office in Florida was not a viable option, they do provide a great opportunity for small-group, online training. I spent two days last week with our head of project management, Mark Feinberg, and another integrator from a different company, in a live webinar with technical and product experts at Clare. I was very impressed that Clare would dedicate more than 12 hours to train three people, and found it extremely valuable to have such a small class size where questions were answered quickly and the trainers were able to view our screens to see how we were doing.
We went through the full gamut of automating a home, using a dedicated rack of equipment at Clare headquarters. In fact, they had two racks set up—one for us and one for the other integrator. That way we could actually use the software and even see the results via a CCTV feed that they provided for us (so we could program into our own home system).
We did everything from networking to security to lighting, pool control, and obviously AV systems. The training was purely hands-on, with us doing all of the programming via Team Viewer. Mark and I now feel very comfortable using the Clare programming platform and spec’ing Clare into a customer’s home or office.
I like to be thorough and that sometimes involves asking a lot of questions. Having hands-on opportunities in a small-class webinar or live environment makes for a great learning experience, ensures knowledgeable programmers, and shows the commitment that a manufacturer has toward its dealers. This is something I definitely appreciate and encourage all integrators to explore.
Todd Anthony Puma is president of The Source Home Theater Installation in New York City.