Terrific Tools for Drupal 8 Training

August 26, 2015
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We couldn’t have trained dozens of Acquia employees on Drupal 8 without using various applications to schedule, measure our progress, and follow communications about the massive undertaking.

Let’s take some time in this, the fifth blog in a series about Drupal 8 instruction, to give a quick overview of the tools we used to train.

We used the collaboration software Confluence because we could set it up quickly. Kent Gale, the co-author of this blog and my partner in the training project, and I would have preferred to have built a tool within Drupal. But we went with Confluence because we were able to deploy it quickly and edit content. It’s where we placed project documentation to enable in-place editing.

Calendars kept in Google Docs spreadsheets accounted for every employee’s time. Every trainee had time blocked off each week for training. It was protected time, so to speak, agreed upon by employee and supervisor – time that was free of any other obligation. Each week, I’d also schedule 30 minutes with each employee – although meetings didn’t last that long – to talk about training. I wanted to see if they faced any barriers or had questions they were too embarrassed to ask in training sessions. We found this hands-on check-in – which was brief but frequent – kept everyone on track.

We also used email and a chatroom to communicate. Initially, email was the preferred route, but as more people enrolled in training, the chatroom was better able to handle the flow of communications. The spontaneity of a chatroom allowed a lot of questions to be answered quickly. It built a resource as well as type of behavior.

On our tracking sheet, we followed the time each employee spent on training and could see how much time was left. We also tracked the lessons they completed and could see if a team fell behind and could quickly address why.

When you’re ready to train, find a tool and use it a lot before starting the program to ensure it will accomplish what you need. Then pick an end date and work backwards. That will tell you how much time you’ll have. From there, you’ll be able to determine if you should compress training to reach a deadline or if you can spread it out over time.

As organized and motivated as we were, and despite starting early, it was still difficult to carve out time for nearly 50 people, and keep our end-date within reach. It was a commitment. So keep that in mind: Your managers and employees have to commit to protecting training time to make it all happen. Otherwise, it’s very easy to let the opportunity slip away.

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