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Tech Training Tips That Will Get Their Attention

Education World offers ten terrific tips from some of the world's most experienced technology trainers. Included: Ten tips that will spice up your technology training.

Loretta Weiss-Morris shares with us the following expert tips for adding interest and excitement to even the most boring technology lessons.


From David G. Likely, department of psychology, University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, N. B., Canada

It is very important to establish academic credibility. For students of the television generations, the best way to do this is to casually and frequently refer to a mix of famous people in your field.... Always use first names, such as, "...when Fred [Skinner] and I appeared on Oprah..." Online teachers are encouraged to use fantasy photo software to create supportive visual material. For instance, place yourself, Celine Dion, Sigmund Freud, and Charles Darwin among the mourners at Ivan Pavlov's funeral, because no student has the slightest notion of historical time. It will be news to many of them that Pavlov is dead.


From Diane Alonso, Computer Sciences Corp.

Start the class with a 30-minute pop quiz. Tell students that the quiz will be used to determine a baseline level for teaching the class. Make sure the questions are extremely difficult and have absolutely no relevance to the course content. At the end of the pop quiz announce that "all but one of the students answered all of the questions correctly" and that "just about everyone appears to have a thorough understanding of the basics," therefore, you will direct the course to the proper level for these competent students. Then suggest a ten-minute break and announce that if anyone still wishes to drop the course, they may do so at this time...

About Loretta Weiss-Morris

Today's technology training tips were provided to Education World by technology trainer Loretta Weiss-Morris. Weiss-Morris has been a computer industry trainer since 1983, and the editor and publisher of the free e-mail newsletter "Quick Training Tips" since 1996.

Weiss-Morris also is the editor of Quick Training Tips! How to Teach Computing Skills to Practically Anyone, a book containing more than 400 practical tips for technology trainers; and she is editor of the paid-subscription newsletter The 21st Century Computer Trainer. As the former editor of the computer training industry newsletter "The Microcomputer Trainer," Weiss-Morris won two awards for editorial excellence from the Specialized Information Publishing Association.


From Vicky Sandvig, training coordinator, Veridian Engineering Division, East Coast Operations

During late-day classes, I have found that my students get really sleepy and inattentive. As an effective wake-'em-up on days with low humidity, I shuffle my feet on the carpet, sneak up on the sleepy student, and apply a spark of energy to the back of the neck. This little jolt usually gets their attention.


From Chuck Finnigan

Tell the class that you won't teach the course until they locate the "any" key. Go for coffee. Come back and say, "Anyone who hasn't found it yet fails the minimum requirement for this session. Please leave."


From Donna Patterson, user support specialist, Valparaiso University

Prior to your next Excel class, put data validation input messages into random cells of the "workbook" that each student will be using during class. Enter such messages as "I am watching you!" "I am right behind you !" "The student next to you is better than you are!" and "Don't even think about coming to the next level class!" Sit back, relax, and watch as Excel displays these messages, seemingly out of the blue.

From Paul A. Zorovich, J&H Marsh & McLennan Inc.

If a computer training room is set up correctly, you can move a mouse to another machine while leaving it plugged into the "correct" one. Once class starts, people's mice start doing things "on their own." Just sit back and watch.

From Clint Brooks, M.Ed., distance learning coordinator, NorthWest Arkansas Community College

Never tell students why you want them to push certain buttons...what they don't know won't hurt them.

Also from Clint Brooks

When demonstrating software on a projector or LCD panel, go as fast as possible. If they can't keep up now, they never will.

From Todd Irvin, United Way of America

Use only orange magic markers on a whiteboard, especially for large classes.

From David Jones, Kamehameha Schools Bernice Pauahi Bishop Estate

Never face your students. They don't want to see your face anyway.



Article by Linda Starr
Education World®
Copyright © 2003 Education World


Updated 03/09/2009