It’s 1030PM, way past the scheduled 10PM for the end of the lesson. The instructor is still going on.
Pissed, I unmute myself over Zoom and interrupt.
I’m sorry. It’s 1030. When are you going to finish?
Ending late, rarely achieving its outcomes, and hardly helping me to become a better trainer, I had a poor experience with the Advanced Certificate for Learning and Performance, a train the trainer course that certifies trainers as being ready to teach others.
A caveat before I begin
At the point of writing this, I’m 26. For my ACLP course, most of it was conducted online over Zoom, rather than in person. That may have significantly affected its impact and teaching outcomes.
But I also went for university abroad in the U.K. I’m not saying that the education there was necessarily better, but there, I learnt a degree that was highly practical and hands-on. For example, in a module on communication for social workers, we role-played the scenario, and then video-recorded it.
Our professor then took the time to pick out minute details, such as the way we sat, or even the volume of our voice.
This meant that faced with the lecture-tutorial format of the lessons in ACLP, I was unused to how concepts were taught.
But I still hope this review gives you a clearer idea before you splash $1890 on the ACLP, and spend 9 months there.
Let’s first start with a broad overview of what I thought of it.
A checkbox ticking exercise
I remember the time during a module when I had to take the video recording 3 times, troubling my 2 other team-mates, because I had lacked the introduction to myself, and then the ground rules.
Some may say that you need to know the box before you go out of the box, but I beg to differ. For most of my experience in ACLP, it felt as if I was just going through the motion, rather than learning anything that substantially added to my skills as a trainer.
For example, during a module when we were supposed to learn how to do a workplace consultation and create a training product for the company, we did it amongst our classmates.
That was fake enough. But that wasn’t all. The mishmash of tools that we put together – Padlet, WordPress, was so scrappy that it would clearly be something for the purpose of the assessment, and nothing more.
This is adult learning, not an adult exam. I personally didn’t appreciate how compressed that particular module was, as it meant that we made an entire training product in less than 2 weeks. It also did not reflect reality.
The relevance to a hybrid learning context
Covid hit all of us like a storm. Taking the ACLP in July 2020, gave me few skills that helped me to design effective training for online learning, or to even become the go-to person at work. You would expect that 1890 dollars, and 9 months would have made you a better employee, no?
Most of the syllabus was targeted at in-person learning, rather than the online learning context. There was little idea about how you could deliver effectively in an online context.
For example, in the first module, whilst you learn how to design a training session, there was precious little feedback on how to make the training engaging. Whilst many of the training designs were certainly content-rich, there was little idea of how that would engage the learners.
We did cover how to deliver the training with a theory backing (like the Gagne 9 Steps Model that maps how you should design your training), but it didn’t teach me how to become a better teacher.
In fact, looking back, I’ve not used a single theory learnt from ACLP to design my training.
Getting training gigs
Many of my classmates were looking to transition into the training business in future. To their credit, the Institute of Adult Learning (IAL) did have 2 lessons that looked at the outlook for trainers in the market. But it didn’t necessarily teach people about the realities of the market.
As a 26-year-old, I’ve been turned down and rejected so many times that I’ve lost count.
That’s not a reality that’s readily shared with the rest of the class. Instead, they tell you about how you can make a career out of it. They share brief numbers about how much money you can make ($80 to $120 an hour), but they don’t tell you that to even get to be an adjunct trainer with one of the institutes, is very difficult.
I’ve applied for 5 different training providers, and all of them have turned me down. For the only 1 that has taken me on, it’s because I first added to their business by writing for them. They then saw my value before taking me on as a trainer.
That is the harsh reality.
I can’t say that being a qualified ACLP trainer today has actually helped me to get more gigs. Telling people that I qualified with ACLP doesn’t seem to register with most clients I send my proposals to.
My suspicion is that stronger markers of credibility such as your academic pedigree, and testimonials, are a much stronger lead to bookings.
Their customer service is horrible
If you call IAL, you will probably never get through. Their customer service is horrible. Even if you pay $1890 as a student, they will refuse to let you sit in their premises, unless you have a class. Once, when I tried sitting in their premises, a staff approached me and asked what I was doing there and if I had a class.
When I told him that I was a student of ACLP, and that I thought that meant that I could sit, he said,
Can you please tell me where in your registration actually states that you can sit in the premises?
I felt disrespected and that I was treated with contempt, even though I was not disturbing them. All I was trying to do was some work in their premises.
Their customer service, sucks, period.
If you still want to pay $1890, please go ahead.
The quality of teaching is subpar
If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys.
According to industry professionals at the likes of the Asia Professional Speakers Singapore, the going market rate for corporate trainers is $3000 for a 3 hour programme. You pay $120 an hour for these trainers, and you would probably suspect that they aren’t that good.
They really aren’t that great. I have to say that they do try, but what I found was a problem was how they made the training relatable to us, or even embedded the training lessons within us.
There were some trainers that spent most of the time talking. Other trainers focused a lot on the syllabus, and not the experiences brought by others in the class. Still other trainers seemed to be there just to deliver the syllabus, and go home, rather than caring about how we would eventually use it.
I didn’t have a great learning experience with this course. Again, I don’t wish to compare to other courses I’ve taken in the U.K., but it really is a different standard.
I remember going for Professor Steve Peters’ Chimp Management training several times in 2018 and 2019, and often came away with a much different view of my own brain. If you’re not familiar with Steve Peters, he’s the consultant psychiatrist that led Liverpool and British Olympic Cycling to great heights.
In a training session, his trainers would have us do a Lego activity, or talk with us during the breaks, to constantly adjust what they were doing. Even now, they continually produce videos and content to make sure that we are learning well.
Do you spend $1890?
If you want to get the certificate, sure, go ahead. But it’s helpful to know your own expectations, and to recognise that this course will probably:
- Not get you more gigs
- Not help you create a training business from scratch
- Not teach you how to be a better trainer
It’s your choice, but if given a choice again, I would probably not go for it again.