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Learning about how to help people learning - and retaining

"Teaching isn't only about knowing your subject. It's also about selecting which parts of that subject are relevant to your current audience, and passing on that knowledge to them in a way which makes them understand it, be motivated by it, retain it, and make good ongoing use of it"


I enjoy being on training courses, as a delegate. I learn something of the subject matter. Last Thursday, I learned a great deal about First Aid on our Emergency First Aid course. But I also learn about other tutor's techniques, and about his instrumental in chanting a day of learning "something" into "a day of learning a lot" into "a day of learning a lot that's relevant" into "learning a lot that's relevant and remembering it". I can pick up tips and good ideas. I can formalise things which with me are self-taught habits that work, but turn out to have posh names for formally taught teachers. And I can note things which the tutor may *think* work, but actually may have a negative impact at times.

What did I come up with?

Describe, Demonstrate, Do

* Describe what you're going to be talking about - headline / overview, then perhaps the theory
* Give a practical demonstration of what you've talked about and show how it really works
* Have the delegates do what's been talked about and demonstrated.

Nothing new here - we do it all the time, but it was a bit more formalised.

Training through humour

A point specifically made by the tutor - and something we use too. With different groups, different humour works - for delegates with English as their second language it can be especially difficult. But on the flip side, the humour doesn't have to be different on every course - just as the main course contents are rehashed and fine tuned from course to course, so is the 'packaging'.

We / I use elements of humour too. Need to be careful not to go over the top, and need to ensure that it's positive humour. I noted during the First Aid course there was a humour sections concerning lady drivers, and in something of a negative connotation. Probably not the brightest of ideas in a group where five of the six delegates were ladies. And especially not a good idea where one of the lady delegates - unbeknown to the tutor - is a motor racing champion, and could probably have (safely) driven rings around the tutor.

Tailoring to suit the group

Add a little more background and technical content. Split the "D-D-D" above into shorter sections if your audience isn't regularly learning / finds classes difficult. Listen to the delegates' reasons for being on the course, and relate to it in the presentation. Compare difficult concepts to similar things in their daily life.

Yes - spotted most of those in action (or rather somewhat in reverse at times - we were a bright audience, I think, and took a lot more theory in each chunk before demo and do.

and retaining

This is, I think, where first aid and programming differ. On the first aid course, you go away with a few acronyms like "DRAB" and a reminder book that the tutor implores you to place somewhere it will actually be picked up from time to time. He also encourages an annual refresher. After all, you can't get people to have accidents / heart attacks on a regular basis just so that you can practise on them.

With programming, we can help people retain by making what we teach relevant to their immediate tasks. Have them go away with working or near-working samples that they can use, maintain, enhance from that point forth and the maintenance and growth of knowledge blossoms from that point forth. We can fertilise the early growth with support, with plenty of examples on the web site. And this is a naturally self-motivating field too, as people get a sense of achievement in coming up with neat and working code, and rejoice in the time and effort their new programs save them.

So - with programming, no annual refresher as a matter of course. It would indicate something of a failure. An annual - or at least a further study from time to time - highly useful. Helping past delegates go forward and make even better use of the subject, reviewing code and teaching new and more advanced techniques. Keeping people up to date with the latest versions and associated technologies and techniques. We don't make a song and dance of our more advanced courses, but we do welcome people back to cover things such as Perl for Larger Projects, PHP Techniques, Regular Expressions and Object Oriented PHP.
(written 2012-01-21, updated 2012-01-28)

 
Associated topics are indexed as below, or enter http://melksh.am/nnnn for individual articles
G303 - Well House Consultants - During the course
  [4558] Well House Consultants - Python courses / what's special. - (2015-10-28)
  [4132] Using your own laptop on our courses - now even easier! - (2013-07-05)
  [3771] Fine evening, country walk from Melksham - pictures - (2012-06-21)
  [3233] C / C++ Course Lunch - sitting out at the West End - (2011-04-07)
  [2560] Training comparison to QA Training, Learning Tree, GB Direct. - (2010-01-02)
  [2342] Training Classes in other tongues - (2009-08-10)
  [1816] Holt on holt - (2008-09-29)
  [1466] Effective Java training - the bootcamp approach - (2007-12-09)
  [1459] Interactive training, and advancing techniques further - (2007-12-05)
  [1420] The Learning Perl crew, October 2007 - (2007-11-03)
  [1363] One computer per delegate, or pair programming? - (2007-09-23)
  [1245] Ensuring that our tutor answers YOUR questions - (2007-06-25)
  [1035] Longer hours and better value courses - (2007-01-15)
  [670] Architectural Heritage - Devizes - (2006-04-04)
  [640] Training Centre Pictures - (2006-03-09)
  [570] Features and Benefits - (2006-01-20)
  [455] A Stengthening day - (2005-10-04)
  [342] The evening after the course - (2005-06-09)
  [273] Course Picture - (2005-04-09)
  [56] Dress Code - (2004-09-20)


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Integer types, and integer overflows, in C
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Promoting a single one of your domains on the search engines
Learning about how to help people learning - and retaining
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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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