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Teaching training courses

December 3, 2008

I am out of town this week helping teach a week-long class for work about — you guessed it, turbidites. The class is all day everyday, which explains the dearth of posts lately. It is very difficult to keep up with e-mails, much less blogs, while teaching all day.

The teaching aspects involved with this kind of class are interesting and uniqe in some ways — short duration, somewhat intense, highly specialized, emphasis on application, and teaching educated and technically-competent adults. Our goal by the end of the week is that the students can take the concepts and tips we’ve shown them and actually apply them when relevant to their work. At the very least, we hope they gain a level of familiarity that allows them to communicate better with their coworkers.

I know there are some educators and teachers who read this blog — it might be interesting to get some discussion and perspective from those who have done some training-type teaching. Not so much about specific classes or disciplines — but some general thoughts on teaching styles, challenges unique to this setting, or other anecdotes.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. December 3, 2008 7:20 pm

    My husband has done training-type teaching for computer networking, both online and in person. (In his case, it was a big business — all his employer did was run classes about Cisco networking.) He switched jobs because he had to travel three weeks or more a month, and it was a lousy schedule for anyone with a small baby. But, yes, the classes were very intense, and teaching something effectively for one week (8 hours a day) was tough. (Tougher online, perhaps, because the students could get called away for work emergencies.)

    On an unrelated note, do you have any suggestions for a meeting place for a geoblogger dinner in SF at AGU?

  2. December 4, 2008 1:49 am

    At my University before last, they were trying out a similar sort of course style for undergraduates – rather than running several courses in parallel over a term, the students focussed exclusively on a single subject, with all the lecturing, practicals, and assessment done in that period. They called them ‘Short Fat Courses’. I was never convinced that it was a particularly appropriate approach at that level, because it just seemed to risk exacerbating the problems of the memorise-regurgitate-forget cycle. I guess that that is less of a problem where you have people coming specifically to learn skills and insights to help improve their day-to-day work.

    The other problem is the risk of information overload – there’s no time to sit back on reflect on what you’ve learnt before you have to consider more new information.

  3. December 4, 2008 4:44 am

    Chris – yeah, I think you’re right … a short and intensive course might not work too well for undergrads, I don’t know. I think they can work well if it’s a topic that the student is maybe marginally familiar with and have picked up stuff on their own … but could use some foundation.

    Kim – I have a few places in mind for AGU week – I’m going to put up a post about AGU in a few days, I’ll list them there and then we can make some more solid plans?

  4. December 4, 2008 5:03 am

    Man, I want to take a class all about turbidites… let us know next time you’re offering it, eh?

  5. December 4, 2008 5:28 am

    Callan … unfortunately, this is an internal class for work … shows all sorts of ‘secret’ data. But, it would be fun to develop a class like this that focuses much more on outcrops and modern systems (instead of subsurface ones).

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