Training in Seattle

So it's 4:40am here in Seattle and I'm waiting on a flight back to Dallas.  I haven't posted in a bit and wanted to put something out there.  I have a dilemma.   I went to my first training at MS this past week and was very excited to add to my knowledge.  To me pretty much any training is good training.   The company that trained us is a well-known company with many heavy hitters in the industry.  We had a 5-day class and I was very happy with the first two days...then things got interesting.

Bear in mind this class was for the Developer and Architect Evangelists (DE & AE) whose job it is to present on MS products for a living.  So day three arrives and this very well-known guy is teaching us his topic.  Great.  About half-way through the day I happen to be looking at a book on this topic that I had with me.  The samples that this guy was using (and passing off as his own) were in fact taken verbatim out of this book.  Wow.  At first I thought there must be some mistake.  I started going back through the slide deck we were given and it was no mistake the guy was using the material from the book.  I think I would have been okay with that if we had been told that is where the material came from but he decided to pass off the material as his own (or at least to omit the fact the material came from somewhere else).

I have been training a long time and I have used material from books in my courseware; however I always make sure to credit the source.  Even when I find the odd bit of code that is cool in a book, I will at least take the idea and come up with some original code that I feel is equivalent so my students have more than one example to work from.  In almost 100% of the cases, I would actually provide students with the book and show them the page number where they can find code that is related to what we are talking about. 

The story gets better.  There were three different instructors presenting on different topics.  The instructor for the third day was a nice guy who seemed to be out of his element.  Again, this guy had written a book on an unrelated technology and presumably had been teaching for some time.  In a word the guy sucked.  I couldn't understand how he could be as bad as he was.  Here is a guy teaching a subject to a room full of technical presenters and he is just tanking hard.  To say it was brutal would be an understatement.  I think watching video of baby seals being clubbed would have hurt less.  It got so bad that the next day we left early to avoid losing any more brain cells from this presentation. 

So, between the worst presentation I have ever seen and the possibility that some of the presentation was plagiarized, I am at a loss.  As the new guy I don't really want to call out one of the biggest guys in the industry but as a professional tech and educator I don't think I can give all the stuff a pass.  What would you do in this situation?  Shoot me an email or post a comment here and let me know what you think. 

Comments (2)

  1. Surf4Fun says:

    This is a problem.  I would contact the instructor directly and ask why he did that.  It might have been that he didn’t think to cite his sources.  These days it isn’t only an ethical dilemma, but it helps get the authors interested in what you are doing as well.

    As to the third guy who didn’t do well, I ask you: Your presentations are always spot on?  Recently I had tooth that the nerve was damaged due to me eating corn nuts, about 5 minutes into a presentation the pain flared up, it is my practice to never give in when I have committed to a presentation, that is part of being live.  Often presenters will do new material in front of the Microsofties, expecting you to tell them honestly what you thought.  So the presenter failed, and you helped him fail by not talking to others about telling they were not doing well.  

    Oh well, that’s Microsoft and any large corporation.  Welcome, it isn’t perfect, but I like working for the corporation, and I think you will too as well.  Please be a little forward with people, in a nice way.

  2. zainnab says:

    Good points all.  

    I admit that I suffered from the "new guy syndrome" and really wasn’t interested in making waves because I figured that it might be normal for something like this to happen.  So I am definitely guilty of not confronting the instructor face-to-face; which is very unusual for me as I prefer to deal with these things in person.

    The third guy was abysmal.  Plain and simple.  Early in my career I did have some bad classes and when that happened it was 90% of the time due to bad prep on my part and only 10% due to some other factor.  Either way I always compensated by refunding the class fee, bringing in another instructor, or offering a re-teach to the customer.   I never just left it as-is and I admitted when I failed.

    As for not citing the sources, I could understand in cases like I have had where I had one or two slides where I forgot to cite, but an entire slide deck?  I just don’t see it.  Plus he worded the lecture like the samples were his own.  I have to conclude that the act was intentional.  

    I think I also need to make something very clear:  these instructors were NOT MS employees.  I would have given them the benefit of the doubt had they been internal employees from the product group(s) and they didn’t really teach much.  This company put itself out there as a professional training company and therefore should, IMHO, be held to a higher standard.  

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