Thursday, February 08, 2007

Educating adults

I finished up a technical training course today. The intention of the training was to ensure that the people who attended it would be able to successfully deploy the VoIP service and maintain it. This effort is in turn reduced to educating them about that platform and the technology it's built on. That end is then effected by me traveling to stand at the front of a room near them, project text onto a screen at the front of the room, and talk. In addition to talking, the people who attended it also had a workbook with some exercises, and at certain points they were to do the work prescribed.

I don't think I know much about what I'm doing. I don't have any mechanism to monitor the effectiveness of what I did with respect to the ultimate goal -- i.e., these people solving problems, deploying the system, etc. I don't have a good feedback mechanism on that part.

I did get some nice comments from the attenders. But that could have been just politeness. I'll bet I could have done a lot worse, and still gotten some nice comments.

Here's what I know about training:

  • People need some time to hear things and let it be absorbed.

  • People need to ask questions when they're learning something. If they don't ask any questions, they're probably not learning anything. It's healthy for them to ask a question for which the answer is exactly what I thought I just said.

  • People need to do exercises. You can watch mathematics being done and follow it, but that doesn't mean you'll be able to do it. Just watching something being done is entertainment. So people really learn the most when they actually attempt to do it.

  • People need breaks every hour or so.

  • A topic isn't interesting just because I'm giving training about it. An attender's interest in the topic has to come from somewhere else.


    
    I think I definitely need to learn some more.
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