Learned 20 Years of Computer Training Some Lessons

Learned 20 Years of Computer Training Some Lessons

The author has trained many people over the years. Learned including someone with narcolepsy. Which explained why she kept yawning. Probably the biggest lesson he’s learnt is never to judge people’s ability on first impressions.

However, that’s not a particularly interesting observation, so here instead are a few sweeping generalisations which while not true at the individual level he believes ARE true over large populations.

Women are Slightly Better Learned

Only slightly, note. But the author believes it’s true: women do – just – on average have the edge over men. Whether this is down to superior intelligence or superior ability to listen to what a trainer says and practise on exercises, the author wouldn’t like to speculate.

Women Think They’re Slightly Worse at Computing than Men

When introducing themselves at the start of courses, women will denigrate themselves and men will overestimate their ability. Confidence is, sadly, a gender issue.

People Who Work in IT Often Disappoint

Analysts, accountants and actuaries are all in general of above average ability at computing; people who work in IT departments generally (and this has many exceptions) of slightly lower than average ability. Why this should be the case the author couldn’t say.

Learned Ability is not Correlated to Educational Achievement

It should be, shouldn’t it? If you’ve got a degree in a subject – any subject – you should be quicker at picking up things than someone less academically gifted. However, there seems to be no correlation whatsoever between level of educational attainment and speed at picking up new concepts in computing. The author suggests – tentatively – that many people who gain degrees do so partly because they have a privileged background or parents with high expectations – but this is an article on computer training, and not sociology.

Performance Dips after Lunch

No surprise, this one – if you’re going to explain the complexities of object-orientated programming, make sure you don’t do it at 2pm in the afternoon.

Feedback is Inversely Proportional to How Much You Learned

If you have a difficult delegate who demands most of your time you can almost guarantee that they will give the lowest mark on any post-course feedback form, while the angel who laughed at all of your jokes and understood all of your instructions will give you the highest mark. Another way to say the same thing is this: people will nearly always blame the trainer for their lack of achievement, just as they will usually credit him or her with their success. Both can be unfair, but the former can be particularly hurtful and annoying

We’d welcome more comments from other experienced IT trainers, but please keep any discrimination out of your replies. If you think green people are better at IT than blue ones, we don’t want to hear from you!

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About the Author: Duncan Barret