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Recommended Publishing Training Resources List/Review

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As someone who managed the training for a 100 node publishing network, I was bombarded constantly with training facilities and trainers who wanted my contract. This list is aimed at Mac-based publishers. But many of the resources would be good for PC users also. These are some of the resources I recommend. The first part is written sort of like a product review. The second part is written as concepts to keep in mind when looking for classroom training.

My own background includes being an authorized QuarkXPress Consultant/Trainer (and an Adobe Trainer, although only because I bought their "Classroom In A Box" products for Illustrator and Photoshop), former graphic production design instructor in the state-funded community college system and chairman of the Colorado State Graphic Communications Advisory Committee (reviewing state-funded curriculum standards and programs in Graphic Design, Photography, Printing and Typography).


Third Party Books

  • Anything from Peachpit Press (http://www.peachpit.com/)
    These make great references. Be careful about buying books that are about a specific version of a program. These will outdate themselves fairly quickly. I love the "Wow!" series from Peachpit as they are more of a step-by-step visual approach to neat tricks and techniques.

    Books from Peachpit: I like the Visual Quickstart Guides and anything by Robin Williams, Steve Roth, David Blatner, Nancy McCarthy, Linnea Dayton, (Larry Pina, although his are hardware repair books), Bruce Fraser and/or Olav Kvern.

  • I also likeHayden Books (http://www.mcp.com/hayden/) , specifically, the Adobe Press series.
    If you have Adobe applications you need to learn, you need the "Adobe Classroom In A Book" series. These are the EXACT same materials that you would get from an "authorized" Adobe trainer who uses their "Classroom In A Box" training materials. You get the hard copy materials as well as the sample images from the CD. Well worth it. Cost of 16 hours of classroom training compared to the same in a book less than $50? Damn good deal!

    By the way, I am not a fan of Que or Sam's books (for professional publishers).

Audio and CD-based Training Products

  • Personal Training Systems (PTS)
    The best! No discussion. I love their products. They have audio training tape modules that have cassette tapes, hard copy guide sheets, and a diskette with sample files. These last 90 minutes and depending on the application, may have two or more "modules" to complete the training. They sell for $49 each. A steal compared to a classroom training session.

    I love their materials because they are interactive. It is not just a "watch me do this" lecture like video training tends to be. You are actually doing the lessons yourself. How many of you are like me and take notes at a presentation, not so much that you will refer back to them, but because if you write it down, you will remember it? This is the same theory with interactive training. If you actually perform the lessons with the trainer (albeit audio only), you will remember it better.

    Their materials are also timed so that they wait for you to catch up with the lesson before they continue! I don't know how, but they seem to keep up whether you are on an older system or a newer system with a faster processor! These tapes and lessons can be stopped where needed and begun again or tried again, depending on the student.

    PTS now has a line of CD-ROM based training also. These are the same as the audio modules in that they are interactive and you use your own applications, not just watching a QuickTime movie of someone else demonstrating a technique. They are just like the audio modules except the handouts are digitized so you print them yourself and the audio is rolled into the CD as a narration over your lessons. I really like the CD version. And all the modules for one application are in the same CD. (Thus the seemingly higher cost.) Call them at 1-800-Teach-99 for details!

  • I do NOT like or recommend MacAcademy products.
    The video tapes I viewed several years ago were lecture only and had many errors in them. When I attempted to get my money back I was told no. When I attempted to relay my LIST of all the errors to their customer service, I was actually told by the receptionist that, "If they want to hear what you have to say, they will contact you!" I also do not recommend the road show tours of training where they breeze into cities across the nation. There are much better resources available.

  • Peachpit Press (http://www.peachpit.com/) now offers the Quay series of training on CD.
    I evaluated the Internet & HTML training CD. It was a nice tutorial, but it was all static, non-interactive. You watch the QuickTime movie demos of each training feature. If lecture is your style of learning, then this may be fine. I had a problem with the fact that the narrator slipped into jargon quite a bit and didn't do a thorough explanation on some items. As in, we never heard an explanation of the less than < and the greater than > symbols used in HTML tags (they all require them!). This CD would be confusing for first-timers. If you have heard (and understand) most of the buzzwords and just need to get started, this will likely be OK.

    The narration is nice as they were done in Great Britain and the narrator is British. It sounds very proper and "professor-like!" Although, as an American, I did find some of his pronunciations strange and funny. It was sort of distracting to the task at hand. It took me a couple lessons before I realized that he was saying the letter "h." He pronounced it "hay-ch."

    I think the Peachpit CD offerings are adequate where PTS does not have an offering, but I recommend PTS over Peachpit on the specific application trainings that they do offer.

ASSISTED (Classroom)

Ask the following (of them and yourself!) about each considered trainer/firm (depending on how many are to be trained and size of organization)...
  • Lecture or hands on?
  • Student to teacher ratio
  • Student to equipment ratio!
  • Handouts
  • Credentials of teacher (including background in professional publishing)
  • What other classes does the instructor/firm teach? Does the company train in Excel, Word, databases (office applications) and then a lone PageMaker class or Mac class? What does that tell you about their expertise in publishing?
  • Train locally or send employees off to class? (Advantages to getting them away from their offices and phones!)
  • Is the training for "the mechanics" of the software tool or for using the tool to produce creative works?
  • Maybe bring an instructor in-house for classroom on site?
  • Lease equipment for temporary classroom, fully equip a permanent classroom--costs and time

"Canned" Classroom (no customization available to you, the client)
Require references and actually speak with previous clients

  • Canned from a dealer
  • Canned from a local professional/private trainer
  • Canned from the "Holiday Inn" one-night-stand tours
    My least favorite canned training! What is their liability for the training they provide? How long have they been in business? Are they providing Photoshop training, but their brochure is in black & white? Are they selling design or "professional" training, but their brochure is full of typos?
    However, I DO (highly) recommend Thunder Lizard Productions' seminars and conferences (www.thunderlizard.com or in Seattle at 206-285-0305)

Custom classroom
Require references and actually speak with previous clients
Ask about: Who develops/owns the training materials (release the materials to the client company for their future use?)
  • From local dealer
  • From a local professional/private trainer
  • From a specialized professional/private trainer (not necessarily local)

Very Specialized (usually one-on-one or very few to one)
Ask the following questions (of them and yourself):

  • Require references and actually speak with previous clients
  • Who develops/owns the training materials (release the materials to the client company for their future use?)
  • Will the trainer be on-site for an extended period of time to hand-hold the student(s)?
  • How will the trainer be trained on your workflow and specialized needs (i.e. How to design and produce a catalog for XXX Enterprises).
  • How will you wean the students from the trainer?

Staff Trainers
At first, this may appear to be the most expensive, but it could actually be less expensive than if you were to send a large staff through customized training.
Be sure to look at the costs of the following:

  • Hiring a dedicated trainer
  • Hiring staff with training potential
  • Hiring departmental or application or technique gurus
  • Grooming existing staff for Guru-dom

Where do you get recommendations for trainers and programs?

Don't forget to get many recommendations. Training costs a lot and you will invest a lot of your time. Do your research ahead.
  • Computer dealer
  • Graphic Arts supplier/dealer
  • Nearest Apple Marketing Center
  • The software vendor (be aware that many vendors "authorize" trainers who merely pay a fee to that vendor, ask about their authorization criteria)
  • Professional Trade Organizations (for a thorough list of publishing-related organizations, see my list at www.kassj.compublishing/associations.html
  • Your publishing peers
  • Friendly competitors (Realistically? Probably in another market)
  • Other online (AOL) forums and newsgroups (Internet)
  • Publishing books! Contact a book's author, they may do private training or can recommend someone.
  • Trade magazine articles, authors, editors
  • Speakers at trade shows and conferences

Remember, cheap training may get you just what you pay for,
BUT expensive doesn't necessarily mean the best!

Schools not turning out what you need?

If you think that your local schools are not turning out the job-entry level employees you need, get involved. Contact your local community college or vocational education high school and ask to serve on their advisory committees. Their commercial/graphic design, printing, prepress, multimedia and photography departments need you! They cannot get state funding without an advisory committee! Put your time and expertise where your mouth is! Volunteer today!

© Copyright 1996-2001 by Kass Johns, all rights reserved world wide.
The opinions and recommendations stated here are solely those of the author and are not the responsibility of anyone else. This is an independent publication not affiliated or otherwise associated with, sponsored by, or sanctioned by any vendor. We state here that we have used trademark names in this publication for editorial purposes only, with no intent to infringe on those trademarks. Permission is granted to copy this document for personal use only for *non-commercial* purposes, in electronic or printed form, provided that this copyright notice is not removed. This work may not be used on another Web site or online service, sold for profit, included within commercial works, or altered or changed in any way without the express written permission of the author.

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© Copyright 1996-2001 v.7.5.00
Kass Johns
Technical Writer & Consultant to the Publishing & Telecommunications Industries
Colorado Springs, CO • www.kassj.com • 719/635-1306 (vc)
kass at kassj dot com

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