Training Classes - should the training company provide a system for each delegate to use?
. We provide training courses in IT subjects - we specialize in "Open Source" programming languages such as Python, Lua, Perl and PHP, but also offer some associated topics such as SQL, and some Linux including administration training for server configuration and deployment. All of our courses include significant practical sections / exercises, which allow the course delegates to try out what we're covering and help them test and consolidate their understanding and knowledge.
. Should we provide a computer system for each of the students to use during the course, or should they use their own / their employer's machines?
Historically, the answer was that we provided all the computers. "You provide a room and the students and we'll do the rest" we said. And we can still say that too - indeed, with computers getting faster, smaller and lower in price year on year, it's become ever more easy for us to do this. Advantages of us providing the equipment include:
* There's no need for the company we're training to find a computer for everyone to use and set them up
* We can preconfigure machines so that we know what's on them during training and can pull up examples, data, etc that aren't part of any standard distributions
* We can 'wipe' machines between courses, so that course work isn't going to upset what's also on the system. There's a problem with delegates using their own machines for server admin courses, especially if their machine's already running as a server, and some organizations are not happy with loading software onto their own systems without going through a control / authorization process.
So is it a "no brainer" that we should supply the systems, isn't it? Actually - it's not quite that simple. There are arguments the other way too
Advantages of the the delegate using his own system include:
* The delegate can use an operating system / settings / environment that he's use to and has tailored rather than having to learn anew just for the course
* Data and existing programs that relate to the user's application (why he's learning) should be available on his own machine, rather than adding a degree of abstraction which makes the course less tuned to the customer needs
* Practical work undertaken during the course will remain on the system after the course, so the delegate can practice and build on later from his training.
* It saves us carrying as much equipment around.
Quite a conundrum, isn't it? Here's what we do
a) We can still provide a system for each delegate to use, and will always carry at least some systems with us even when the customer intends that every delegate used his / her own machine. This means that we will NOT be caught out by a delegate system that's not suitably configured / isn't provided.
b) We run a DHCP server on our own network, so that delegate machines can easily connect into our network - wired or wireless - to access data and examples on our local server that may be needed during the course. We mirror that data and the examples on our live web site, so that delegates can access the data and examples that way if they prefer, typically reaching the Internet from their own systems via their company's firewall.
As a final step, when we're on a customer site in the UK, our own network is usually online via mobile broadband. That's not a critical step, as we mirror our own web site one of our training systems, but it provides a useful link to other resources, and a route through which delegates can check emails, etc, during breaks. And when you come to a course at our training centre / hotel, all of our systems (and yours if you connect in to our network) are on our high speed fibre connection - currently running at 50Mbits/second.
In summary - we're delighted for you to use your own machine, but we always provide a thorough fallback if you can't. Best of both worlds!
Public courses at our centre
On Site course details - we come to you
Private courses at our centre - send your whole group to us (written 2011-01-18, updated 2011-01-20)
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