Everything must be done as awkwardly and inefficiently as possible!


That seems to be my university’s motto. This morning I completed “Preventing Sexual Misconduct, Discrimination and Retaliation for Employees”, an online and required training module that ate up a few hours. I am entirely sympathetic with the purpose of the exercise, and I appreciate the reminder, but sheesh, it was awful. Cheesy animations, irrelevant clip art, bad acting in skits, pointless interactivity (click on the card, it spins!), all interspersed with bad audio and bad cinematography of talking heads, and worst of all, pop-ups of state and federal laws that you had to scroll all the way through in order to progress on. Imagine a EULA that was punctuated with recorded zoom calls from executives telling you how important it was to pay attention, with occasional stiff, wooden, but colorful cartoons where figures just stand there wiggling their arms. I cringed. I moaned. I wept at how bad it was at presenting important information. If I taught a course this badly, I’d deserved to be hauled in and rebuked.

I also got in for a check-up of my back agonies. On the negative side, Mary just had to pipe up and remind them that I was also due for a colonoscopy, and I’ll probably get to do that in July. On the positive side, I’m getting an appointment for physical therapy and a prescription for some good drugs. I’m going to celebrate completion of my obligatory painful training course by spending the afternoon all mellowed out and high.

Comments

  1. birgerjohansson says

    “a prescription for some good drugs”
    (no comment, it is a low-hanging fruit) 😊

  2. PaulBC says

    Imagine a EULA that was punctuated with recorded zoom calls from executives telling you how important it was to pay attention, with occasional stiff, wooden, but colorful cartoons where figures just stand there wiggling their arms.

    I’m getting flashbacks to an online driving school I had to take to get out of having points on my license for a moving violation (entering the left turn lane too early). OK, it was basically OK. It beats having to go anywhere in person. That wasn’t something I could complete in a single session though.

    My employer’s sexual harassment training is a lot shorter, probably doable in a half hour or so and it may cover other things too. I forget.

  3. birgerjohansson says

    ….and, the quality and production values of the training module might reflect the priorities assigned to the issue.
    Or maybe I am too cynic, another interpretation is that the powers that be take it seriously but are quite unfamiliar with how to reach out and educate pwople about a complex issue as distinct from issuing directives.

  4. markgisleson says

    Perversely this made me think of some extremely NSFW advice from Prefuse 73 on using humor to defuse a situation.

    It’s a 21 second clip sure to offend everyone but it also is a great “bad example” that forces you to think a bit (and by “a bit” I mean microscopically/near homeopathically so, but less cringeworthy than an HR-staged morality skit).

  5. kentallard says

    You should try the SHARP training the DoD requires us to take. Our training had to be suspended for a year because of inappropriate sexual behavior by the instructor – which occurred during the class.

  6. birgerjohansson says

    kentallard @ 5
    The Swedish police sent a guy to an American course about sexual harassment about a decade ago….and the leader of the course informed the Swedish hq the bloke they had sent had behaved inappropriately.

  7. nomaduk says

    If you enjoyed that, you should try the active shooter videos from the psychos at ALICE that virtually every school district in the country requires staff to sit through. It’s enough to make you just give up.

  8. says

    Don’t they have any competency requirements for the people who make these inane videos? And the arbitrary rules for satisfying one’s anti-harassment training obligations! My college district sends out periodic reminders in our e-mail (“You are due for sexual harassment training,” often truncated to “You are due for sexual harassment” in our Outlook window), and you must follow a prescribed path through the training before taking the quiz (minimum passing grade of 90%) to demonstrate your mastery of the material. Last time I jumped to the quiz and passed it with flying colors, but I didn’t get my certification because I hadn’t watched the videos. So I ran the videos in consecutive order while grading a couple of quizzes. Multi-tasking!

  9. brucej says

    Try sitting through three different HIPAA certifications in four days. That are all like that just all slightly different…

    Or the online Developer Security training that out Uni just rolled out, it lasts about 3 hours and you cannot save your progress. So if you start it and have to go do something else it will stop and you have to start again all over….

  10. blf says

    I ran the videos in consecutive order while grading a couple of quizzes. Multi-tasking!

    Heh. Shortly before I left Big DummieCo — it was already known by this time I was leaving — “management” (this actually ultimately went up to the VP level) insisted I take an in-house online course on a technical subject I was an expert in, and had already critiqued an earlier version of the course when it was being developed. The “problem” was I was the only person in the entire company required to take the course who had not actually done so, so the part of Big DummieCo I was working for was getting a bad rating for not showing “progress”. (Never mind this was training, not an actual metric testing comprehension of, or measuring improvements in, the subject matter.)

    Ultimately what I did was run the video with the sound off, and then reply to the questionnaire (not really a test) with my previous critique of that earlier version. I don’t recall what I was actually doing whilst the silenced video was playing, but it cleared up the VP’s “bad rating” problem so he could get his performance bonus.

  11. captainjack says

    I’m due for the silver goose this summer, too. Number 5 this time. The doc has found a polyp every time so that’s been every 5 years. I don’t do mornings so the worst part is the fast until late afternoon, but I need to lose a few so no big. Way better than colon cancer.

  12. cartomancer says

    Perhaps the tedium and cringeworthiness was deliberate? After all, jjust explaining clearly to a sex offender that sexual misconduct is wrong probably won’t get them to change their ways, but if you can get them to associate their intended sexual misconduct with hours of online rigmarole then perhaps they will be at least somewhat dissuaded.

  13. drken says

    PZ, if you like the drugs they give you for your back, you’ll love what they give you for a colonoscopy. One experience with Propofol, and you’ll never wonder again how Michael Jackson got hooked on the stuff.

  14. snarkrates says

    If I ever retire from the ebil federal gummint, it will be because of one of two things:
    1) Darth Cheeto or anyone like him gets in as President again
    2) The silly-assed training we have to go through. I actually look forward to diversity training–that at least represents something real. But cybersecurity and sensitive but unclassified information. KMN.

  15. whheydt says

    Back when I was working for an RBOC and we had to take anti-sexual harassment training (when it was announced as “sexual harassment training”, all the programmers went, “What? You mean you’re going to teach us how?”), the instructor was a company lawyer.

    Her best line was, “If you do this, you will not be shooting your career in the foot. You will be shooting your career in the head.” She was actually pretty cool. Good presentation skills and knew the subject material thoroughly.

  16. robert79 says

    As a teacher, I’ve always been flabbergasted at how bad various of the “trainings” I’ve had to follow are. Me and my colleagues tend to just view them as an “hour off” where we get to act like our students and don’t pay attention at all.

    Of course it’s not a real hour off, as that grading isn’t going to grade itself in the meanwhile, but sometimes it’s nice to have some comic relief halfway.

  17. nomdeplume says

    It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a wife who attends her husband’s medical appointment will ALWAYS remind the doctor of the colonoscopy.

  18. PaulBC says

    whheydt@16

    “If you do this, you will not be shooting your career in the foot. You will be shooting your career in the head.”

    Sadly, I doubt that’s true, or only true for peons. How’s Andy Rubin doing? I am not sure how his career is going, but $90 million is not a bad deal for shooting your career in the head.

  19. says

    Better to schedule a colonoscopy under your own power, rather than being forced to do so. Had one last year in the hospital to check why my stool was bloody.

  20. ardipithecus says

    @9 anthonybarcellos

    “Don’t they have any competency requirements for the people who make these inane videos?”

    Yes. It’s called “The Lowest Bidder”.

  21. robro says

    It’s got to the point in my job where we do another online training every month or two. Some of them we repeat every year. Fortunately they’re done well, but still.

    My wife is friendlier to me than yours is to you, PZ. She tried to talk me out of a colonoscopy recommended by our doctor last year because of COVD, and the fact that it’s value is somewhat questionable at my age.

  22. JoeBuddha says

    You think that’s bad? I work for THREE companies (outsourced twice). Each one has it’s own suite of mandatory training videos / apps. I’ll think I’m up to date until one of my managers reminds me that I’m missing one. Making matters worse, our team uses Team City for communication so I seldom use my work e-mail, unless it’s to verify a test. Oh, and filling out three time reports is such a joy.

  23. PaulBC says

    I have put off any health checkups since the pandemic started, including colonoscopy, though nobody has to remind me that I’m due. I am more worried about my skin, honestly, freezing off actinic keratoses and applying fluorouracil. I don’t think any of these “precancers” are likely to develop into something serious, but I’m way overdue.

  24. William George says

    Every year (before the plague anyway) the Ministry of Education here in Korea makes us go to “training” about spotting and reporting child abuse.

    This is very important training that everyone who works with kids need to have.

    Our training is always just a 90 minute power point of the booklet they gave us when we entered the conference hall. The presentation is by a Korean American, picked because they’re bilingual, not a professional in this subject in any way, who just reads the power point of the book they handed to us when we entered the conference hall. It stinks of “Done because we were ordered to do so”. I always leave irritated.

  25. says

    It stinks of “Done because we were ordered to do so”.

    That, or “Done because we are legally obligated to do so”, as is often the case, in my previous experience at $BIGCORP.

    If one has any involvement with regulatory compliance, it helps if one can appreciate the absurd.

    For example, the Netherlands (as the only country in the EU) decided to label ethanol as carconigenic. So in a professional setting, we are legally forced to switch to alternatives wherever possible. This is kind of hard to explain to people when an adult can legally buy alcoholic drinks of comparable strength to the solvents we used previously.

  26. says

    My back has gone out in sympathy.😖🤕 No pain killers for this little black duck though. Nothing stronger than Panadol unless you are admitted to hospital.

  27. leerudolph says

    birgerjohansson@3:

    the powers that be take it seriously but are quite unfamiliar with how to reach out and educate

    Well, PZ’s “powers that be” are (as mine were) university administrators. Of course they’re unfamiliar with how to educate people: that’s not the job they’re there for!

Leave a Reply