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For 2023 (and 2024 ...) - we are now fully retired from IT training.
We have made many, many friends over 25 years of teaching about Python, Tcl, Perl, PHP, Lua, Java, C and C++ - and MySQL, Linux and Solaris/SunOS too. Our training notes are now very much out of date, but due to upward compatability most of our examples remain operational and even relevant ad you are welcome to make us if them "as seen" and at your own risk.

Lisa and I (Graham) now live in what was our training centre in Melksham - happy to meet with former delegates here - but do check ahead before coming round. We are far from inactive - rather, enjoying the times that we are retired but still healthy enough in mind and body to be active!

I am also active in many other area and still look after a lot of web sites - you can find an index ((here))
Distance Learning

From time to time, I'm asked about providing "distance learning" for Perl, PHP, Ruby, Python ... and it's an excellent question. It's something we're considered, reviewed, and no doubt will review again in the future ... but here's my views and our decision on the subject at present:

We don't offer distance learning in any of the subjects that we teach. We present our courses in the same room as our trainees. We are then being around to assist them during practicals and the whole group talks about the issues involved.

Our "conventional" training techniques lead to an excellent success rate amongst our students which it would be very hard, in my opinion, to achieve through any form of distance learning program. For a small minority of well motivated trainees, and for certain subjects, I know that such a scheme can work well - but it tends not to for the majority of trainees. Why?

a) Although our trainees are well motivated, they come from a diverse background so that it's very hard to make any assumptions at all about the starting point for a course. A good tutor, in the same room as a small group of students, can identify a "glazed look" very quickly and can fill in gaps in the background of individuals which would otherwise leave them severely disadvantaged for the rest of the course. [Link - example of facilities offered on a course]

b) With programming especially, the subjects taught on a course each form the building blocks for subsequent subjects, so it's essential that each subject is understood. We don't have the luxury of being able to say "oh - never mind - look at some other material later" or "you have reached the end of the material on this subject" as can happen with less personal groups and distance learning.

c) If you're programming (or learning to program), you need to be able to concentrate, and to be using a workstation that's loaded with software in a standard way known to the tutor. We can control the environment that we use for our public and private courses, but we have no such control over distance learning facilities where there may be constant interruptions, noise, and software that's not fully or properly installed or is an outdated version. Being away from / out of your office is a huge help.

d) As well as learning from the tutor, we find that our trainees also learn from interaction with fellow students which is not possible under most distance learning schemes. Even on a "conference call" setup, you don't SEE everyone.

e) We encourage trainees to bring along their own data / discuss their own requirements / write sample programs - exercises - that fit their own needs and this pro-active input from the students is (I think) difficult to achieve using a distance learning scheme.

I am aware that a distance learning program can be lower cost per student starting the program, and it can save on travel expenses too. Such savings are nullified if the trainee gets very little from the program, or drops out, and I believe that - at present - a classroom / conference room type environment offers the best training, and also the most cost effective. That's why we provide such a service, and concentrate all our resources on doing so to a high quality.


About five years ago, it was forecast that the conventional training market would be decimated by distance learning - but that simply hasn't happened. If cheap computer based training (CBT) really worked, then all the big employers would long ago have switched to it. I think they've come to the same conclusion that we have. If you're interested in a little further reading, we have an exchange on this in our forum archives

(written 2004-10-31, updated 2008-05-11)

Associated topics are indexed as below, or enter http://melksh.am/nnnn for individual articles
Y105 - Python - Functions, Modules and Packages
  [96] Variable Scope - (2004-10-22)
  [294] Python generator functions, lambdas, and iterators - (2005-04-28)
  [303] Lambdas in Python - (2005-05-06)
  [308] Call by name v call by value - (2005-05-11)
  [340] Code and code maintainance efficiency - (2005-06-08)
  [386] What is a callback? - (2005-07-22)
  [418] Difference between import and from in Python - (2005-08-18)
  [561] Python's Generator functions - (2006-01-11)
  [668] Python - block insets help with documentation - (2006-04-04)
  [745] Python modules. The distribution, The Cheese Shop and the Vaults of Parnassus. - (2006-06-05)
  [749] Cottage industry or production line data handling methods - (2006-06-07)
  [775] Do not duplicate your code - (2006-06-23)
  [821] Dynamic functions and names - Python - (2006-08-03)
  [900] Python - function v method - (2006-10-20)
  [912] Recursion in Python - (2006-11-02)
  [913] Python - A list of methods - (2006-11-03)
  [949] Sludge off the mountain, and Python and PHP - (2006-11-27)
  [959] It's the 1st, not the 1nd 1rd or 1th. - (2006-12-01)
  [1134] Function / method parameters with * and ** in Python - (2007-04-04)
  [1163] A better alternative to cutting and pasting code - (2007-04-26)
  [1202] Returning multiple values from a function (Perl, PHP, Python) - (2007-05-24)
  [1464] Python Script - easy examples of lots of basics - (2007-12-08)
  [1784] Global - Tcl, PHP, Python - (2008-09-03)
  [1790] Sharing variables with functions, but keeping them local too - Python - (2008-09-09)
  [1869] Anonymous functions (lambdas) and map in Python - (2008-11-04)
  [1870] What to do with a huge crop of apples - (2008-11-04)
  [1871] Optional and named parameters in Python - (2008-11-05)
  [1879] Dynamic code - Python - (2008-11-11)
  [2011] Conversion of OSI grid references to Eastings and Northings - (2009-01-28)
  [2439] Multiple returns from a function in Python - (2009-10-06)
  [2440] Optional parameters to Python functions - (2009-10-07)
  [2481] Sample code with errors in it on our web site - (2009-10-29)
  [2506] Good example of recursion in Python - analyse an RSS feed - (2009-11-18)
  [2520] Global and Enable - two misused words! - (2009-11-30)
  [2718] Python - access to variables in the outer scope - (2010-04-12)
  [2766] Optional and named parameters to Python functions/methods - (2010-05-15)
  [2878] Program for reliability and efficiency - do not duplicate, but rather share and re-use - (2010-07-19)
  [2929] Passing a variable number of parameters in to a function / method - (2010-08-20)
  [2994] Python - some common questions answered in code examples - (2010-10-10)
  [2998] Using an exception to initialise a static variable in a Python function / method - (2010-10-13)
  [3159] Returning multiple values from a function call in various languages - a comparison - (2011-02-06)
  [3280] Passing parameters to Python functions - the options you have - (2011-05-07)
  [3459] Catching the fishes first? - (2011-09-27)
  [3464] Passing optional and named parameters to python methods - (2011-10-04)
  [3472] Static variables in functions - and better ways using objects - (2011-10-10)
  [3474] Python Packages - groupings of modules. An introduction - (2011-10-11)
  [3662] Finding all the unique lines in a file, using Python or Perl - (2012-03-20)
  [3695] Functions are first class variables in Lua and Python - (2012-04-13)
  [3766] Python timing - when to use a list, and when to use a generator - (2012-06-16)
  [3852] Static variables in Python? - (2012-08-29)
  [3885] Default local - a good choice by the author of Python - (2012-10-08)
  [3931] Optional positional and named parameters in Python - (2012-11-23)
  [3945] vargs in Python - how to call a method with unknown number of parameters - (2012-12-06)
  [4029] Exception, Lambda, Generator, Slice, Dict - examples in one Python program - (2013-03-04)
  [4161] Python varables - checking existance, and call by name or by value? - (2013-08-27)
  [4212] Python functions - an introduction to how they work - (2013-11-16)
  [4361] Multiple yields and no loops in a Python generator? - (2014-12-22)
  [4407] Python - even named code blocks are objects - (2015-01-28)
  [4410] A good example of recursion - a real use in Python - (2015-02-01)
  [4441] Reading command line parameters in Python - (2015-02-23)
  [4448] What is the difference between a function and a method? - (2015-03-04)
  [4645] What are callbacks? Why use them? An example in Python - (2016-02-11)
  [4662] Recursion in Python - the classic example - (2016-03-07)
  [4719] Nesting decorators - (2016-11-02)
  [4722] Embedding more complex code into a named block - (2016-11-04)
  [4724] From and Import in Python - where is the module loaded from? - (2016-11-06)

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Distance Learning
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Can't resist writing about Python
The Romans got it right
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This is a page archived from The Horse's Mouth at http://www.wellho.net/horse/ - the diary and writings of Graham Ellis. Every attempt was made to provide current information at the time the page was written, but things do move forward in our business - new software releases, price changes, new techniques. Please check back via our main site for current courses, prices, versions, etc - any mention of a price in "The Horse's Mouth" cannot be taken as an offer to supply at that price.

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