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Training’s Fundamental Five
By Joe Bouchard
Published: 10/25/2010

Adult ed Whether it is e-training or instruction of the traditional sort, we need to be mindful of some basic, helpful guidelines.

In other words, we can stack the cards of success in our favor by incorporating a few of the following ideas. Consider the following fundamental five: Writing, Necessity, Balance, Believability, and the Elephant Factor.


Creating a program is so much more than just regurgitating the ideas of other sources on a PowerPoint presentation. It is a combination of utilizing proper grammar, employing artistic flair, incorporating of factual, relevant information, and fulfilling stated objectives. The blend of all of these is a recipe for effective instruction.


Some training is captivating and even fun. But is the training always necessary? The creator/facilitator must ask a few questions. Will the content improve staff performance? Does the instruction enhance understanding of policy and procedure in everyday operations? Are the needs of the institution met with the instruction? Will the execution of the training complement the agency mission statement? Does he training fulfill a need imposed by circumstances, legislation or accreditation? In other words, is the training necessary?


Sometimes we overemphasize some parts of training while others are not presented with enough measures. Certainly, writing and presenting styles should be considered here. But the following elements should be balanced in order to produce the best presentation possible: good information, entertainment, lecture versus participation, group activities and icebreakers, and substance versus electronic wizardry.


Seasoned corrections staff are adept at detecting insincerity. Many participants typically know when a non-corrections person has a hand in creating a module. The module must be believable and relevant to those who work on the line every day.

Style difference can come into play. For example, someone who excels at bringing shock-value from out of left field can be successful in the classroom. However, such an approach must tie the point into the meat of the matter.

In addition, the facilitator must believe in the product. If not, then the presentation may seem less valid to the participants.

Elephant Factor:

All training, including e-training, should be flexible. The need is particularly acute in cash strapped facilities where it is difficult to schedule staff to cover the absence of other staff engaged in prolonged blocks of training time. Ideally, it could be executed in smaller bits if the hour blocks do not fit the needs of staff and the institution.

The Elephant factor refers to the expression of consuming an elephant one bite at a time. Sometimes, when the providers bring an elephant to the table, it simply cannot be eaten in one setting. This is true even if it is done one bite at a time. Just like the tolerance threshold of a dull and unvarying diet can be challenged, so, too, can the limits of training saturation be modified. And this can be done to the benefit of staff and the facility. It makes sense in many cases to break the e-training elephant into many smaller parts, put divided parts on ice, and use as needed or as possible. Any facilitator with basic organizational skills will be able to devise a recording system to tally the smaller bites of what was once a large, formidable training meal.

In the end, we have so many people and groups to consider when we train corrections professionals. In the end, we can develop staff, improve operations and safety, and protect the public. Training’s five fundamental applied to your training can produce a true win-win-win proposition.

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