Structuring a multi-day  technical training course Jacinta Richardson Perl Training Australia <jarich@perltraining.com.au>
Having fun?
Every session?
up to 24
Brain filling?
Training is worse
So... training
6 - 6.5 hour days
Wide range of xp
Things I've learned
Pocketwatch – dvs http://www.flickr.com/photos/dvs/32416309/
90 minutes = break
9:00 - 10:30 11:00 - 12:30 1:30 - 3:00 3:30 - 5:00
9:00 - 10:30 11:00 - 12:30 1:30 - 3:00 3:30 - 5:00
9:00 - 10:30 11:00 - 12:30 1:30 - 3:00 3:30 - 5:00
9:00 - 10:30 11:00 - 12:30 1:30 - 3:00 3:30 - 5:00
6 hours
Squeeeeeze
9:00 - 10:30 10: 45  - 12:30 1:30 - 3:00 3: 15  - 5:00
6.5 hours
Or go home early
Lot to learn
Morning – Vince Alongi  http://www.flickr.com/photos/vincealongi/2233093267/
Important info start of day
Coffee + morning = better learning
Evening Sunset at Ulsoor - Swami Stream http://www.flickr.com/photos/araswami/2294314816/
Easy info end of day
Full brains
Like full stomachs
This will have to do – ingermaaike2 http://www.flickr.com/photos/ ingermaaike2/2524610442/
Essentials start of course
Don't waste time
90 minutes
Freshest they'll be!
Rainbow balls – ingermaaike2 http://www.flickr.com/photos/ingermaaike2/3787876483/
Optional extras end of course
Least able to learn
 
But... it's important?
Might need a new course
time is running out - __april http://www.flickr.com/photos/ appyyy/4077997473/
10:10
10:20
10:30...
Learn Practice Understand
Learn Practice Understand
Learn Practice Understand
Threes a Crowd – aussiegall http://www.flickr.com/photos/aussiegall/3683810773/
1-3 concepts per chunk
At least 10 minutes
Exercise fatigue
Spare time = More examples
90 = 3 x 10:20 4.5 x 10:10
Perfect Shot – TheMarque http://www.flickr.com/photos/themarque/1333632314/
Target exercises at each key point
1 point = 1 exercise
Later exercises can combine
On the Slide - PCA 86 - Donald Macleod http://www.flickr.com/photos/donaldmacleod/4125100041/
Easy – Advanced exercises
Challenge different skill levels
Won't finish all the exercises all the time
Squiggle Slide – krossbow http://www.flickr.com/photos/krossbow/339106135/
Additional exercises
3 - 4
Span 80% course
Challenging
No answer files
Gold coated wall details – árticotropical http://www.flickr.com/photos/sensechange/523157637/
Minimise x-chapter reliance
Sometimes necessary
Problem plagued
Fatigued...
Struggled...
Missed...
New topic = Clean slate
Encyclopædia Britannica, Eleventh Edition (1911) – Stewart http://www.flickr.com/photos/stewart/461099066/
Good, thorough course notes
Not slides! Write a book!
In-course reference
Share around at work
Good advertising
Snowflake – Muffet http://www.flickr.com/photos/calliope/3134840025/
Keep it cold,  keep it fresh
19 - 20 degrees C
Cold = More alert
Bell Curve – hardeep.singh http://www.flickr.com/photos/hname/3570152750/
Bell-curve applies
9 students
1 very slow 2 slow 3 average 2 fast 1 very fast
Not intelligence
Never programmed No recent programming No recent learning
Lots of languages Lots of programming Lots of learning
Target average
Extra help
Don't slow down (too much)
In summary (key rules again)
90 minutes = break
Important info start of day
Easy info end of day
Essentials start of course
Optional extras end of course
10:10
1-3 concepts per chunk
Target exercises at each key point
Easy – Advanced exercises
Additional exercises
Minimise x-chapter reliance
Good, thorough course notes
Keep it cold,  keep it fresh
Bell-curve applies
Good Luck!
Slides released  CC-By 2010 Photos may have different licenses, check notes on appropriate slides.
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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.

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  • Good afternoon. I&apos;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&apos;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&apos;ve learned from running courses. Your milage may vary, but I imagine you&apos;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&apos;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&apos;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&apos;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&apos;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&apos;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&apos;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&apos; ability to learn new information as time goes on. On the first day, they&apos;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&apos;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&apos;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&apos;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&apos;s possible for your students to be doing too many exercises.
  • If you can&apos;t fill the 10 minutes, add more examples, or another concept.
  • Assuming you stick to these rules, you&apos;ll cover between 3 and 4.5 sets of concepts between breaks. That&apos;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&apos;ve just covered.
  • Make sure that you have at least one exercise per key point. Preferably you&apos;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&apos;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&apos;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&apos;t provide worked answers for our practical exercises, to remove the temptation to... cheat.
  • Cc-by Next we&apos;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&apos;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&apos;ve found 19-20 degrees to be a good temperature for keeping students awake but not too uncomfortable
  • It&apos;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&apos;s intelligence, but rather has a lot to do with their recent background.
  • Students who&apos;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&apos;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&apos;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&apos;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&apos;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&apos;ll also find yourself pressed for time at the end.
  • Structuring a multi-day training course

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