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Teaching tips for “the trainee-in-a-rush”

The current challenge behind in-class software instruction is not content explanation; rather the issue is managing trainees who are on an extremely tight schedule. Often times, trainees will fly in for an intensive session, and then bounce back to work without the opportunity to full grasp the material, let alone review it. Thus in addition to charging the right price, the perfect training for these people is intensive, practical, and realistic. What does this mean? Teach a mountain of useful information; complete training during short but realistic time span; and plan that the trainee will need additional resources to help review material after training. Below are some opening thoughts in an attempt to get a bank going regarding “how” to deliver training to these trainees. Most of this shouldn’t surprise you, rather it should serve as a reminder to keep the basics in mind

Structure

Intensive Training + A typical student attention span = module-based learning: Create independent sections whenever possible. This will help a trainee because missing a certain part of the training will not cost them the entire training.

Create a puzzle, and break it up: Material once broken up, needs to structured such that a trainee always knows where they are in the training, and how that specific piece of knowledge fits into the entire course.

Time: If possible, resist the urge to drill more than 9:00 – 5:00pm (most people would even tell me a 5 hour day is too much). Especially if training is more than 1 week long, trouble will arise after a certain point.

Content

Recognize the solution/product learning curve – Can a trainee pick up the introductory material intuitively? Based on the % of time spent learning the basics, training will be able to reach a specific level in a set period of time. Investing additional time at the beginning will never hurt.

Use Active Based Learning whenever possible: Plan for it: exercises, cases, thinking, group work. A trainee is far more likely to remember material he or she has actually used or dealt with first hand. It also is much more interesting than listening to almost 8 hours of lectures.

Use an in-class review – While the goal is to give as much material as possible, realistically a person can only handle so much new information at one time. At specific intervals of between 20-30 minutes, plan to ask questions and review the previous section. At the end of each module, make sure to have an extended review which coveres material discussed in a module, day, week, etc.

Invest in Great Support Material – The perfect slide aids the teacher; unfortunately written content aids the student after training. If using slides, consider having notes pages or even a set of content “light” slides for the teacher AND content “heavy slides for the trainee.” Additionally, any exercise or spoken material must somehow be documented if it is to be remembered after training.

Ensure a proper starting knowledge base: Pre-requisites will not always be read; however organizers can explicitly state what level a student must have in order to begin training.

Create post-requisites: Students are more likely to invest time after training recalling material. In addition to in-class support materials, give student’s specific areas to search for additional information.

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