26 March 2014

Gathering evidence...

It’s easy to say that you’re good at something. The difficult part is getting some hard evidence to back it up – especially when ‘the proof of the pudding is in the eating’ (in other words, you don’t really know until you’ve tried).

It’s a problem we’ve always had – many of our existing clients are reluctant to publicly acknowledge that we’ve done work for them, let alone share whether we’ve done it well or not.

We’ve been giving this problem some serious thought over the last few weeks, especially as we’ve been trying to promote our writing skills training courses a little more. We’ve managed to gather a few testimonials on LinkedIn, and (with permission) have posted them on our website as well. But that still leaves a huge gap.

Our credentials speak for themselves in terms of our writing (and other communication skills) – we publish some of our own stuff on our website, and we keep ourselves up-to-date. After a bit of investigating, we decided that the courses we offer fit best under the umbrella of ‘business skills’ and the most obvious place to look for more information was ITOL (Institute of Learning and Occupational Training).

After a lot of hard work making sure everything was just as it should be, I joined the organisation as a member. (You need to be a member in order to have your courses accredited... but more than that, I felt I needed some validation of me as a trainer.) We then submitted samples of our materials, course overviews, details of course objectives and so on for scrutiny.

Success! All three of our core courses are now ITOL-accredited!

What does this mean? Well, we can point to an external source of verification that the methods we are using to teach are sound. It gives us a slight edge over some of our competitors. And if trainees want an official ITOL certificate, they can have one.

It also means that Andrew gets a few days in Slovenia. To become a member of ITOL himself, he needs to have completed an ITOL-accredited train-the-trainer course. I did the ‘How to Become a Brain Friendly Trainer’ myself a while ago, and that is an accredited course, so it seemed sensible to send Andrew to do the same... The next one is being run in Slovenia. (I can highly recommend this course – it helps you think of some creative ways of training that drive away the monotony.)

What’s next? Well, now we’re accredited (which should help with the in-house courses we have been running for some time), we are going to run our first public open course in Nottingham on 18 June 2014. It’s a scary proposition in many ways. When we are commissioned to deliver a course in-house, we know the course is going ahead before we have to invest anything beyond a little time. With a public course, there will be the nervous wait to see what the uptake is like. Watch this space!