Structuring a multi-day training course
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Structuring a multi-day training course

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Jacinta Rchardson's presentation from LCA2010, Wellington, as part of the education miniconference.

Jacinta Rchardson's presentation from LCA2010, Wellington, as part of the education miniconference.

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  • Good afternoon. I'm Jacinta Richardson and I run Perl Training Australia.
  • Who here is really enjoying the conference?
  • Who has been to a talk in every session so far?
  • That could be 24 different sessions.
  • Is your brain beginning to feel full?
  • At this conference, you get to pick your talks. Further, few talks rely on you attending ones that happened previously. Often there is no assessment. Training requires concentrating on essentially the same topic for several days in a row.
  • First, be realistic. In any given day, you're going to get 6 hours of training in. If you really push things, then maybe 6.5. The rest will be taken up with lunch and tea breaks, getting started etc. Even if you squeeze your breaks as much as possible, students only seem to be receptive to learning for about 6 hours anywa.
  • When we first started our courses, we only got people who were both incredibly smart and sufficiently motivated to convince their workplaces to send them. Now days we get a huge range of experience, from people who think HTML is programming; to people who have already been maintaining most of the Perl at their company
  • This is all based on things I've learned from running courses. Your milage may vary, but I imagine you'll find many of these things to be similar.
  • CC-by So, first of all.... timing
  • Rule 1. Have a break after every 90 minutes of training. This allows students to relax a bit, perhaps grab a coffee, or relieve their nicotine urges; and it gives you a chance to sip some water and run to the toilet.
  • This tends to lead to blocks of time like this: 9-10:30
  • 11- 12:30
  • 1:30 -3
  • 3:30 -5
  • Which gives you 6 hours.
  • Of course you probably don't need 30 minute tea breaks, so you can squeeze a little more out of your students by violating the 90 minute rule a little:
  • And you get this.
  • Giving you an extra 30 minutes of training time per day.
  • Or the option to go home half an hour earlier
  • Hopefully you don't have too much you expect to cover in a day.
  • How do you make the most of your day?
  • Start early. Pack the most interesting, and essential stuff in the morning.
  • Students should be refreshed from a good night's sleep, and those who need it should be buzzing from their morning coffee
  • Then, by the end of the day...
  • You ease off, and give them things that matter less, and especially are easier to understand.
  • By now your attendees have full brains for the day and just want to go and do their usual evening events and let it settle.
  • Learning – for those who've forgotten how – is a little like eating. If given enough time between courses, you can fit more in.
  • Cc-by Pick a really good starting point.
  • Move as much important information to the start of the course as you can. It might not be the order in which you naturally think of the subjects, but skills learned at the start will be learned better than those at the end.
  • Don't waste the start of the course with over-long introductions. Start covering the meat of the course, before your first break.
  • These first 90 minutes are special.
  • It's the freshest your students will be for the whole time you deal with them.
  • Cc-by Finish wisely.
  • Finish your course with useful tips and tricks, things attendees should probably know, but which they can survive without.
  • After all, this is when they are least able to learn.
  • This graph represents students' ability to learn new information as time goes on. On the first day, they're really fresh, and eager to learn. As the day wears on they get much less able to retain the information received. Each new day refreshes them a little, but some students won't be able to learn anything at all by the end.
  • But what if you have more information than you can fit in the course, while staying within these rules? What if it's all important?
  • You might need to split your course into two, extend your course by a day, or just add a new course to cover those things.
  • So what fits within these 90 minute blocks?
  • I suggest sticking to a rule of 10 minutes teaching, 10 minutes exercises. You say, you show, they do.
  • For some exercises, you may need to give them more time.
  • I don't recommend stretching to 30 minutes for exercises very often, perhaps once every two days. Exercises this long can often leave students feeling frustrated or bored.
  • Remember the goal is that first the student learns the idea
  • Then they practice that idea
  • Then (well, hopefully) they understand.
  • Cc-by And in your instructing...
  • Limit yourself to just a few new key concepts in your 10 minute chunks.
  • Make sure you take at least 10 minutes on these ideas.
  • Strange as it sounds, it's possible for your students to be doing too many exercises.
  • If you can't fill the 10 minutes, add more examples, or another concept.
  • Assuming you stick to these rules, you'll cover between 3 and 4.5 sets of concepts between breaks. That's up to 54 concepts per day. Should be easy!
  • Now, what do we aim for on the other side?
  • Exercises should be structured. Provide a number of exercises for the students to attempt, all directly relevant to what you've just covered.
  • Make sure that you have at least one exercise per key point. Preferably you'd have one key point per initial exercise too.
  • Only combine skills after the student has had a chance to practice them individually.
  • Cc-by Catering for different skill levels.
  • Start each set with some easy exercises, and then work up to advanced.
  • Those who are struggling with the course or this specific topic should still be able to try the key concepts, within the easy exercises, while everyone else should be still be challenged.
  • Remind students that you don't expect all the students to finish all the exercises all of the time.
  • Cc-by What about the really bright students?
  • Create a set of additional exercises for the fastest students.
  • You'll need 3 to 4 of them, or about 1 per day.
  • The exercises should be designed to be worked on in pieces throughout the course, and should touch on about 80% of the course material when completely finished.
  • These can be designed to be very challenging; as only the fastest students are likely to attempt them.
  • We don't provide worked answers for our practical exercises, to remove the temptation to... cheat.
  • Cc-by Next we'll talk about content structuring
  • Much as there is a great temptation to make each chapter build upon the previous chapter; try to resist it! Cross-chapter reliance should be minimised.
  • Of course, sometimes it is necessary. More advanced material will assume a fair bit of understanding of the basics you covered earlier.
  • However, writing a multi-day course where every chapter relies on every chapter before it is plagued with problems
  • This places a much higher cognitive load on your students; which means they'll get tired faster and generally struggle more.
  • If you have students who are beginning to struggle you risk losing them for the remainder of the course.
  • Likewise if a student missed some or all of an earlier chapter, for whatever reason, then heavy reliance on that chapter will disadvantage them
  • Chapter boundaries should be points where struggling students have a chance to get involved again
  • Cc-by Your course notes are another aid to your students
  • Any multi-day course must come with good, thorough course notes.
  • These cannot just be copies of the slides you are presenting from. They should be a manual or a book.
  • Decent course notes allow the students to return to previous material and relearn necessary skills; as well as providing a chance for those who missed material to catch up
  • The value of the course notes continues after the course has ended, as attendees are likely to take them to work as a reference and to share with their colleagues.
  • Excellent advertising
  • Now to talk about environmental conditions, which is not so much about course structure as some helpful advice.
  • Your training room is probably too hot. Warm students are sleepy students, and that will impair their ability to concentrate on your material
  • We've found 19-20 degrees to be a good temperature for keeping students awake but not too uncomfortable
  • It'll help keep you awake and alert too.
  • Cc-by So what can I tell you about what your students are like?
  • Their range of abilities will usually follow a bell curve.
  • A stock-standard, average class of 9 students...
  • Will have this distribution. We see this sort of distribution in our classes all the time.
  • This has very little to do with the student's intelligence, but rather has a lot to do with their recent background.
  • Students who've never programmed before, or not for a very long time; or who have forgotten how to learn tend to progress more slowly,
  • while students who have learned many languages, or who tend to spend most of their days programming, or who are straight out of university tend to race ahead.
  • Target your course at the slowest “average” student. This will net you most of the class. Make sure you have challenging exercises for the faster students to keep them occupied
  • Then give all the extra help you can to the slower and slowest students. Offer to help them in lunch and tea breaks and encourage them to stay back at the end of the day to ask extra questions.
  • Just don't slow down to try to keep everyone up to speed. If you go at the pace of the slowest student, you will bore the average and faster students; who make up most of the class. You'll also find yourself pressed for time at the end.
  • Rule 1. Have a break after every 90 minutes of training. This allows students to relax a bit, perhaps grab a coffee, or relieve their nicotine urges; and it gives you a chance to sip some water and run to the toilet.
  • Start early. Pack the most interesting, and essential stuff in the morning.
  • You ease off, and give them things that matter less, and especially are easier to understand.
  • Move as much important information to the start of the course as you can. It might not be the order in which you naturally think of the subjects, but skills learned at the start will be learned better than those at the end.
  • Finish your course with useful tips and tricks, things attendees should probably know, but which they can survive without.
  • I suggest sticking to a rule of 10 minutes teaching, 10 minutes exercises. You say, you show, they do.
  • Limit yourself to just a few new key concepts in your 10 minute chunks.
  • Exercises should be structured. Provide a number of exercises for the students to attempt, all directly relevant to what you've just covered.
  • Start each set with some easy exercises, and then work up to advanced.
  • Create a set of additional exercises for the fastest students.
  • Much as there is a great temptation to make each chapter build upon the previous chapter; try to resist it! Cross-chapter reliance should be minimised.
  • Any multi-day course must come with good, thorough course notes.
  • Your training room is probably too hot. Warm students are sleepy students, and that will impair their ability to concentrate on your material
  • Their range of abilities will usually follow a bell curve.
  • Finally, good luck!
  • Just don't slow down to try to keep everyone up to speed. If you go at the pace of the slowest student, you will bore the average and faster students; who make up most of the class. You'll also find yourself pressed for time at the end.

Structuring a multi-day training course Presentation Transcript

  • 1. Structuring a multi-day technical training course Jacinta Richardson Perl Training Australia <jarich@perltraining.com.au>
  • 2. Having fun?
  • 3. Every session?
  • 4. up to 24
  • 5. Brain filling?
  • 6. Training is worse
  • 7. So... training
  • 8. 6 - 6.5 hour days
  • 9. Wide range of xp
  • 10. Things I've learned
  • 11. Pocketwatch – dvs http://www.flickr.com/photos/dvs/32416309/
  • 12. 90 minutes = break
  • 13. 9:00 - 10:30 11:00 - 12:30 1:30 - 3:00 3:30 - 5:00
  • 14. 9:00 - 10:30 11:00 - 12:30 1:30 - 3:00 3:30 - 5:00
  • 15. 9:00 - 10:30 11:00 - 12:30 1:30 - 3:00 3:30 - 5:00
  • 16. 9:00 - 10:30 11:00 - 12:30 1:30 - 3:00 3:30 - 5:00
  • 17. 6 hours
  • 18. Squeeeeeze
  • 19. 9:00 - 10:30 10: 45 - 12:30 1:30 - 3:00 3: 15 - 5:00
  • 20. 6.5 hours
  • 21. Or go home early
  • 22. Lot to learn
  • 23. Morning – Vince Alongi http://www.flickr.com/photos/vincealongi/2233093267/
  • 24. Important info start of day
  • 25. Coffee + morning = better learning
  • 26. Evening Sunset at Ulsoor - Swami Stream http://www.flickr.com/photos/araswami/2294314816/
  • 27. Easy info end of day
  • 28. Full brains
  • 29. Like full stomachs
  • 30. This will have to do – ingermaaike2 http://www.flickr.com/photos/ ingermaaike2/2524610442/
  • 31. Essentials start of course
  • 32. Don't waste time
  • 33. 90 minutes
  • 34. Freshest they'll be!
  • 35. Rainbow balls – ingermaaike2 http://www.flickr.com/photos/ingermaaike2/3787876483/
  • 36. Optional extras end of course
  • 37. Least able to learn
  • 38.  
  • 39. But... it's important?
  • 40. Might need a new course
  • 41. time is running out - __april http://www.flickr.com/photos/ appyyy/4077997473/
  • 42. 10:10
  • 43. 10:20
  • 44. 10:30...
  • 45. Learn Practice Understand
  • 46. Learn Practice Understand
  • 47. Learn Practice Understand
  • 48. Threes a Crowd – aussiegall http://www.flickr.com/photos/aussiegall/3683810773/
  • 49. 1-3 concepts per chunk
  • 50. At least 10 minutes
  • 51. Exercise fatigue
  • 52. Spare time = More examples
  • 53. 90 = 3 x 10:20 4.5 x 10:10
  • 54. Perfect Shot – TheMarque http://www.flickr.com/photos/themarque/1333632314/
  • 55. Target exercises at each key point
  • 56. 1 point = 1 exercise
  • 57. Later exercises can combine
  • 58. On the Slide - PCA 86 - Donald Macleod http://www.flickr.com/photos/donaldmacleod/4125100041/
  • 59. Easy – Advanced exercises
  • 60. Challenge different skill levels
  • 61. Won't finish all the exercises all the time
  • 62. Squiggle Slide – krossbow http://www.flickr.com/photos/krossbow/339106135/
  • 63. Additional exercises
  • 64. 3 - 4
  • 65. Span 80% course
  • 66. Challenging
  • 67. No answer files
  • 68. Gold coated wall details – árticotropical http://www.flickr.com/photos/sensechange/523157637/
  • 69. Minimise x-chapter reliance
  • 70. Sometimes necessary
  • 71. Problem plagued
  • 72. Fatigued...
  • 73. Struggled...
  • 74. Missed...
  • 75. New topic = Clean slate
  • 76. Encyclopædia Britannica, Eleventh Edition (1911) – Stewart http://www.flickr.com/photos/stewart/461099066/
  • 77. Good, thorough course notes
  • 78. Not slides! Write a book!
  • 79. In-course reference
  • 80. Share around at work
  • 81. Good advertising
  • 82. Snowflake – Muffet http://www.flickr.com/photos/calliope/3134840025/
  • 83. Keep it cold, keep it fresh
  • 84. 19 - 20 degrees C
  • 85. Cold = More alert
  • 86. Bell Curve – hardeep.singh http://www.flickr.com/photos/hname/3570152750/
  • 87. Bell-curve applies
  • 88. 9 students
  • 89. 1 very slow 2 slow 3 average 2 fast 1 very fast
  • 90. Not intelligence
  • 91. Never programmed No recent programming No recent learning
  • 92. Lots of languages Lots of programming Lots of learning
  • 93. Target average
  • 94. Extra help
  • 95. Don't slow down (too much)
  • 96. In summary (key rules again)
  • 97. 90 minutes = break
  • 98. Important info start of day
  • 99. Easy info end of day
  • 100. Essentials start of course
  • 101. Optional extras end of course
  • 102. 10:10
  • 103. 1-3 concepts per chunk
  • 104. Target exercises at each key point
  • 105. Easy – Advanced exercises
  • 106. Additional exercises
  • 107. Minimise x-chapter reliance
  • 108. Good, thorough course notes
  • 109. Keep it cold, keep it fresh
  • 110. Bell-curve applies
  • 111. Good Luck!
  • 112. Slides released CC-By 2010 Photos may have different licenses, check notes on appropriate slides.