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Re: training as a means of advocacy?

From: Andrew Sullivan <ajs(at)crankycanuck(dot)ca>
To: pgsql-advocacy(at)postgresql(dot)org
Subject: Re: training as a means of advocacy?
Date: 2007-08-24 15:56:38
Message-ID: (view raw, whole thread or download thread mbox)
Lists: pgsql-advocacy
On Thu, Aug 23, 2007 at 10:47:13PM -0700, Josh Berkus wrote:
> Howerver, Scott, you've hit on the failure of the whole training industry to 
> advance to the new economy.  Training is still largely a boutique industry, 
> and has failed to advance meaningfully into cheaper, more accessable online 
> courses.  The problem you identify is quite real, but it's more widespread 
> and harder to solve than you probably think it is.

The latter point is important here. 

To begin with, training is expensive to do, and very hard to do well. 
Computer-based training is even harder to do well.  Most people are
not very good teachers (including many of the trainers who are out
there); and even more people who are already out working are _awful_

Moreover, the success rates on self-administered training (which is
what CBT has to be) are lower than classroom-based training.  This is
because the classroom has an advantage: the students have to go at
the pace of the classroom.  Since the "pass" mark at the end of most
classroom-based courses is low enough, a test administered right at
the end of an intensive week-long course will almost always show
nearly everyone passing.  (Universities also do something similar, of
course, making sure that they get a nice brontosaurus-shaped curve at
the end of their courses.  Just ask people who have taught, for
instance, symbolic logic or mathematics, where the curves are often
U-shaped.)  But self-paced learning is different: unless the course
design is _very good_, it will almost certainly have higher failure
rates, because students aren't that good at the discipline necessary
to ensure they work all the problems needed, in the right order and
at the right pace.  For instance, a foundation skill needs to be
followed immediately by practice in its application; but if the
student takes two weeks between those units (because "something came
up at work"), then the student quickly finds it can't remember the
basic skills needed to continue with the work.  The trainee becomes
frustrated, and gives up.  

There are ways around this, of course, but they're more expensive
than putting someone in a classroom for a week -- for the training
company.  The trainees, of course, have to pay travel and
accommodation, too; but that's a cost that's often accounted as
"travel" and not "training"; so the training budget doesn't have to
pay that additional expense in the case of going to a course in a
nearby city.  The training budget _does_ have to pay for the
additional expense in a remote-training, student-paced arrangement,
though, which means (paradoxically) that self-guided training, if it
is effective, is often more expensive per course than classroom

Andrew Sullivan  | ajs(at)crankycanuck(dot)ca
The plural of anecdote is not data.
		--Roger Brinner

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