Tag Archives: trainings

Preparation of training materials

For the past 7 years I have participated in tens of training courses - local and abroad - and trained hundreds if not thousands of lectures out there. Since I do regular classes on some topics, I need to polish my materials on a regular basis by doing research, testing and exploration to keep them up to date.

There is a variety of new technologies to be covered and I have to prepare materials from scratch for them after receiving a company request. What comes next are meetings with the client, management staff and target auditory, precisely calculating the amount of hours needed, topics, group knowledge level and the amount of exercises needed (unless it is a seminar-based course with no labs). Important thing is targeting the right group. I do send some quiz/test based forms to be filled which cover subjective evaluations from the trainees as well as technical questions helping me to figure out their level and averegize that value with their own personal marks. Forming a group of the same level is important for the pace - should be neither too quick, nor too slow.

Normally, for a training we need to do a research of the technology even if we're well acquainted with it. Some history at first (project creators, release date, where did inspiration come from), related technologies (comparison tables), current release and newest features. I have to create an agenda of topics and topic contents as well - just as books do. Then I need to design a structured material, put some code samples, graphics (diagrams), create demos and exercises for the people if needed. So we have extensive slides, demos on-site and exercises for the labs or at home.

I usually follow the same pattern creating a course content. I do create skeletons of presentations and estimate very roughly in a matter of time. Then I follow this flow. Here it is.

  1. Check previous training course folders. Since I've trained a number of training classes already, there is a chance that I can reuse some presentations or at least slides (graphics, code samples, comparisons, stats) for the current training as well. I could also mix 3 presentations and create a pretty neat and useful one here.
  2. Check out Slideshare. We're creating slides. Then why not we check for other slides from authors and see if we could learn anything new or gain inspiration about demos and labs.
  3. Google for other similar training courses. Since I've already built my skeleton and my timing, it'd be great to compare it to several other training classes out there. This could be _very_ subjective as it depends on the level of understanding of the group, the type of the training (lectures, samples, Q&A, labs, other) but still some synchronization could be done based on similar training programs.
  4. Search for tutorials and FAQ. Straight forward, browse online for tutorials and FAQ sections that could help adding some piece of information or example in the slides.
  5. Google with filetype:ppt. An extra slideshare search addition for other presentations all over the world. I managed to find a Chinese presentation once that was not readable for me, but 2 of the graphics were very helpful.
  6. Check for libraries and demos. Sites such as Java2s and other resources are so called 'code repositories'. Same goes for github and sourceforge and more, so you could find great sample projects or code snippets, well documented there.
  7. Check on YouTube. I used to not search for video tuts for several years, but latest trends show that many techs are covered as video tutorials and samples on YouTube which is great. So use it as an extra resource.
  8. Google for standard search phrases for the technology X such as: X examples, X demos, X code samples, X library. It helps.
  9. DZone/Reddit search. Social bookmarking sites and directories could be related to the tech you need to cover. Try them as well.
  10. Amazon. Similar to the training courses, check for books (to purchase if needed) or see the agenda and topics covered - you might have missed something important in your scope.
  11. #yourtechhere. Twitter has too many people so they could talk about what you need. The chance to read spam is high, but you could find rare facts there.
  12. StackOverflow/Nabble - super interesting Q&A questions for the most frequent issues with the tech could help for the support panel. You can even find the authors of the product you write about.
  13. Podcasts. Still not that popular, but you could download some audio material to your player and listen to it as a study book. Some universities even have open courses.
  14. Cheatsheets. I love them all. They have structured content with graphics or tables for the most important phases on every popular (and not so popular) technology. I even tend to give them to students while doing some exams to help a bit and use their reading memory.



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Web security workshops in Saudi Arabia

I am off for few weeks delivering several 3-days trainings on web app security best practices in Saudi Arabia. It's my first training outside of Europe so I had to spend some time exploring the culture of the nation here which is pretty exciting.

Already had two trainings so far and few more to go. There is going to be another batch on November for another colleague of mine and I'm trying to sync my materials to serve as a good reference during the next batch of trainings. 

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New: Virtual personal Java/DB trainings

After 6 years of on-site trainings in companies, organizations, schools and universities, last month I spent some time considering some other options for education, including online and multimedia options as well. 

One of the modern options today for trainings and seminars are the webinars. There are few platforms where you could attend to a mass event where one talks with a screen shared. It's pretty nice actually, but I don't find the platforms mature enough yet (especially with me and my Flash conflicts by default). 

Another great option is the video lessons. We do prepare video tutorials for our top priority product at the moment, but I'm quite sure they could be applied in the trainings as well. I did a pros and cons list and that option actually went at the bottom of my list. Why? Because video tutorials are a mentoring material with no option for feedback or questions during the video. This is the greatest benefit of the real life training - attendance guarantees you (usually) the ability to ask and receive adequate answers from an expert. This opportunity doesn't exist in the video recording. Also, technologies get updated in months so these videos has to be rerecorded again and again. The latest drawback is the copyright - as this is my job I would like to sell it in some way but we all know what piracy is all about - torrents and P2Ps could put an end on that initiative if someone uploads the videos. Probably some flash mechanism could protect it in an online platform like the webinars, who knows, but I vote 'No' here.

So basically a client of mine from another country contacted me for a personal training. He has a full-time job and he is an independent consultant so he is unable (and doesn't need) to hire a training hall and call me to teach a training. So I prepared an offer with the database training program to be trained via Skype or other video and voice sharing online technology. I am able to present my presentation slides on my screen and switch to Eclipse to run and alter demos while he is able to follow this real time and communicate this through the network in a real voice conversation. If he has the need to show something, he could share screen as well and I am able to check his examples and homeworks.

So that's the deal. Feel free to check this new option here for Java/DB/other trainings - prepared program packages or custom trainings if necessary. 

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Freelance Seminar 2010

Last week we had our first formal Freelance Seminar in Bulgaria. After few conferences and public lectures we did a full-day seminar on freelance. The Freelance Lodge with Mytime.bg cooperated with Superhosting.bg, MiNDS and CCB for that event to happend. 

Video materials are expected, more info is available here and here. However, we hope that freelancers all around the country will join our community and be responsible enough to help other events and workshops happen as well.

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