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Going Beyond Paper Based Training Material? 37

ydrol asks: "Training Companies (and training departments) seem to take great delight in handing over a pile of folders full of paper based training materials at the end of a course. Presumably, they don't want students stealing electronic copies of their work and training others, as it is a lucrative source of revenue. The downside is that it is often impractical to refer to these training notes after the course is over. Does anyone have any ideas — both for students (short of using psexec to grab the electronic notes from the teachers laptop) and for training companies themselves on how we can improve the situation?"
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Going Beyond Paper Based Training Material?

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  • I attent a lot of courses and thus get a lot of paper handouts. For one thing, I always ask if they could send me the electronic documents. Its a lot easier to search those files for a specific item, and much easier to archive in a good manner. The programming courses within the company I work for almost always have a cd with the presentation and all the example files. The paperwork disappears into the garbage bin easily.
    • And of course, there is a change people will distribute the content... but such is life. I also have more technical (illegal) eBooks then normal books.

      If you really want information you should always attent the course. One thing you can do is handing out the presentation you might give, but making it very global. The specific things you tell them instead of having it in the presentation. When the students look at the presentation again they'll (hopefully) remember whay you said, and other people won't.
      • When the students look at the presentation again they'll (hopefully) remember whay you said,

        Highly unlikely. I've never been able to use presentation slides as any sort of aide-memôire -- there's just too little information in them. It's generally the finer details that you forget, and PowerPoint presentations don't have space for the finer details.

        HAL

    • As convenient as it would be to have electronic documents, I would also like paper copies. There's a lot of times when it's easier to find something on paper than it is to find something in electronic format. Maybe it's just a matter of making better searching technology, but I find that It's often easier to find stuff in a good book, than by searching through electronic documents.
  • hands on experience?

    real reality tests?
  • by Xoc-S ( 645831 ) on Thursday October 26, 2006 @05:49AM (#16590980)
    The problem with paper based training materials is that frequently they are just copies of slides. Good paper based training materials stands on its own as a book that can act as a reference when the course is over. That means that the concepts that the instructor covered are explained in the book with examples, screen shots, and comes with the sample programs that the instructor was demonstrating.

    The instructor gives value by being able to answer questions and adds his real-world experience to the concepts in the book. The instructor can ask questions, and makes sure that the students understand the concepts before moving on.
    • Amen!

      I do a two-hour PowerPoint/presentation best practices training. The question I like to ask to get people to move away from designing their PowerPoint as a book on the screen (which they do so that they can hand out the slides and be done with handouts) is, "If I can get the whole content of your presentation just by reading your PowerPoint slides, then why are you there?" I like to emphasize the PowerPoint as atmosphere not sole content idea, and I really encourage people not to hand out the PowerPoin
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I work in a department that creates Financial IT-related training for our customers.

    We always hand out a paper book at the START of the course. There are not only the slides but already a sizeable amount of notes under the slides, as reference material. The participants typically scribble extra notes here and there in the book. That is more useful than handing it out at the end. And it's a paperback which takes less space than a big binder. From our surveys, it seems that many customers from time to time re
  • Manuals? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by 192939495969798999 ( 58312 ) <info@devinCOLAmoore.com minus caffeine> on Thursday October 26, 2006 @06:21AM (#16591134) Homepage Journal
    There is an incredible shortage of user/programming manuals from the creators of the languages, which yields a deforesting effort by 3rd party writers. I wish you could get a book for (insert new language here), from the creators of it, that looked like the old programming/user manuals. You could know nothing about programming, or the bare minimum, and come out of it with the ability to fully operate and create solutions to any given problem within the parameters of that language -- all without Google!
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by CastrTroy ( 595695 )
      Many are available, however, not in paper format. For 2 examples try the J2SE Documentation [sun.com] and the PHP documentation [php.net], which comes with user annotated . What you'll also find is that a lot of publishers just put out printouts of the API docs. You can get a 1000 page book on programming in Java, but 700 pages of that will be the API. That's a big waste of paper, especially since the API docs are out of date the moment the new version is release. I think that a good 3rd party programming manual shouldn't
  • copying (Score:2, Insightful)

    by polar red ( 215081 )
    Presumably, they don't want students stealing electronic copies of their work

    yeah, it is impossible to copy a paper-version.
    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      1 prlted 0ut th ;; s repl7, and sCamed itin

      via 0CR, as you con see sleling prmted not es

      ~1344jx idea.
  • watermarking (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Bazzargh ( 39195 ) on Thursday October 26, 2006 @06:56AM (#16591302)
    I know its less usable, but its not difficult to create individually watermarked handouts (say). I don't mean just adding text into a pdf, thats far to easy to remove - I mean a multipage tiff with the watermark text is burned into the image, or the pdf equivalent. That way if someone passes on a copy, you know who did it. You can also include the eurion [wikipedia.org] constellation in the watermark to make it harder for people to mess with the image in tools (or with printers/scanners)

    I'm not sure its worth protecting slides much more than this - if your course is so chalk & talk that the slides capture everything, the bad reputation you'll gain will cost you more than piracy.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by CastrTroy ( 595695 )
      Tiffs would be hard or impossible to search (i guess it's possible with OCR, although , which would defeat the whole purpose of having the document in electronic format.
  • I'm not sure if I really understand the topic, may be it's related solely to software development training where I can't say very much to, as I'm working in life science. But isn't the quality of most training and teaching heavily dependent on the trainer/teacher and the better he/she is the better the lesson/training is.

    If you really believe that the people you train will take over your job, than what is it, that makes you a good trainer? Just the material you provided? Shoudn't you have methods to trans
  • by Chabil Ha' ( 875116 ) on Thursday October 26, 2006 @07:21AM (#16591540)
    I work at a company where if you take classes on campus you get a binder called a manual, which is primarily composed of printed out powerpoint slides. This makes for a useless 'manual' inclass, let alone outside. There's no index, no contents, usually just a few tabs to seperate sections.

    If I had to choose, I would prefer a higher quality doc than a digital one.
  • by rlp ( 11898 ) on Thursday October 26, 2006 @07:42AM (#16591806)
    My experience is that paper based training is relatively ineffective. My better to go outside and use rewards and praise. When I've used newspaper, the puppy either tore it up or just looked confused. What? Never mind ...
  • Personally, I provide all my teaching materials in electronic formats. Mostly PDF. The assumption has been that (if I'm any good) it isn't the materials which people are coming for, but my ability to teach them. So even if someone else was to offer teaching with the same materials, people would still rather go to me. Or so I hope. :)

    The problem is that I have yet to convince the administrators that this is the case. Fortunately, they see printing as being a cost they would rather avoid, so moving to electro
  • Paper (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Hijacked Public ( 999535 ) on Thursday October 26, 2006 @07:54AM (#16591988)
    The problem with getting away from paper is that it soundly thrashes anything you can produce on a computer when it comes to resolution and density of content. Unfortunately, most paper training supplements don't take advantage of either and end up being direct copies of the electronic material.


    Being aware of what paper can do goes a long way toward reducing the amount of information you actually print. While different subjects offer different opportunities, focusing on graphic means of communicating ideas and data and combining that with the resolution of paper can often mean that you can compress dozens of electronic slides into a single piece of paper.

    Read some of Edward Tufte's [edwardtufte.com] work, it is a good place to start.

  • Because I actually -prefer- paper training guides/manuals/etc. You know, with those fancy "Table of Contents" things, and that nifty "Index" in the back.

    I've been to a lot of technical training, and by far, the training books are what -really- tell you how something works. I much prefer to open the book, look up something in the index, while I have the product/etc. up on my screen. It's a lot easier to work that way for me.

    I must be getting old ...
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      "Because I actually -prefer- paper training guides/manuals/etc. You know, with those fancy "Table of Contents" things, and that nifty "Index" in the back."

      I don't think you're getting old, I think the real problem many developers haven't clued into yet is making electronic books act like real ones on the computer. I thought of going to rentacoder.com and have someone come up with a program to turn a PDF into a algorithmmically generated 3D model ebook that would behave as such, I think the real problem is
      • by nbvb ( 32836 )
        That may well be the case. What I do know is that:

        a) I haven't found an eBook format I like yet. PDF's are ok, sorta kinda. Not nearly as easy to use a real book with indices though.

        b) Screen real estate is precious. I've got a 23" LCD at home, and a 24" LCD at work, and frankly, I wouldn't want to have a training manual or two open on the screen while I'm trying to get some work done. I have much more "physical desktop" space than I do screen real estate, and that's important too. I can have two or t
  • As the proud owner of a new Boston Terrier, here's hoping that his need to refer to his paper-based training materials will decrease over time...
  • One place I recently interviewed at, Eedo Knowledgeware (http://www.eedo.com/), seems to make pretty awesome online computer-based training products, and they support multiple platforms.

    I chose a different job for other reasons, not because of their products. ;-)
  • Paper? Lucrative? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by rueger ( 210566 ) on Thursday October 26, 2006 @10:04AM (#16593764) Homepage
    Presumably, they don't want students stealing electronic copies of their work and training others, as it is a lucrative source of revenue. The downside is that it is often impractical to refer to these training notes after the course is over.

    You are not buying a book. The fees paid to trainers are for their knowledge and skills at presentation. Handouts or binders are at best a bonus. Please don't confuse training with shopping at Amazon.com.

    I admit to wondering how referring to printed handouts after the fact can be seen as "impractical." Do you have rare paper allergy? Are you illiterate or an individual with a visual impairment that makes reading text difficult?

    Maybe try thinking of paper as the Linux of communication tools - universal, almost free (as in beer) and accessible to anyone, anywhere without the use of proprietary tools.
    • Maybe try thinking of paper as the Linux of communication tools - universal, almost free (as in beer) and accessible to anyone, anywhere without the use of proprietary tools.

      Careful now, be sure to release this derivative description under the GPL lest ye be hunted down by RMS ninjas. Consider yerself warned! Arrr!
    • I admit to wondering how referring to printed handouts after the fact can be seen as "impractical."

      Five years into my computing career, I've already been given more course notes than I can realistically store at my desk. They'd all fit on single CD if they were in electronic form.

      HAL

    • by ydrol ( 626558 )

      Presumably, they don't want students stealing electronic copies of their work and training others, as it is a lucrative source of revenue. The downside is that it is often impractical to refer to these training notes after the course is over. You are not buying a book. The fees paid to trainers are for their knowledge and skills at presentation. Handouts or binders are at best a bonus. Please don't confuse training with shopping at Amazon.com.

      The reason why they hand out mostly paper based copies is that

  • Let's make a distinction between training, schooling and education, so we can define training as skill transfer from one entity to another. The answer has been around since the late '50's and it's called "programmed instruction." IBM made good use of programmed instruction during the '60's, as did approximately 20,000 other companies and publishers. Some of the best programmed instruction was produced by Control Data and Texas Instruments. Programmed instruction courses were bulky, and not for the impatient

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