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What is really the most important part of a training system?

"Anyway," John Wilber, founder of Bytronic International told me, "the course material is the most important part." Really?! I was standing in front of a half a million rands' worth of complex process simulation equipment and he expected me to believe that a 50-page pack of experiment worksheets was the most important part?

But he was right, of course. If your equipment is used badly or not at all, then it doesn't matter how good it is. I suppose I already knew that. But it took me a few years to discover what he really meant.

Here are five reasons why the course material is really the most important part of a training system:

  1. It shows that your equipment actually works – that sounds obvious but some manufacturers trawl tenders and then make equipment up to the stated specification. If they supply it without course material, that is a good sign that it nominally complies but is not properly functional.

  2. It facilitates continuity – these days product training is often included with equipment but that is usually for the first user. When that person moves on, his or her successor is left with the manual and a good luck note. If the manual is bad, the equipment may never be used again.

  3. Good course developers and equipment developers work together, a bit like drivers and constructors in a Formula One team. The user helps the manufacturer understand what works and what doesn’t, and the manufacturer keeps modifying the equipment in accordance with the user’s effective practice.

  4. Course material can be inspirational – there are generally more experiments possible than are documented in the experiment manual. A well written and effective manual can inspire a learner to perform his or her own investigations, along the lines of the documented experiments, but with extensions and modifications.

  5. A well-structured manual can have a profound impact upon developmental learning. Have a look at the illustrations. The user builds a series of logic circuits using the standard PERT modules, before programming similar functions on a programmable logic controller (PLC), where the logic and circuitry is hidden inside the computing device. This way a learner gets a real feel for what is going on inside the PLC before working directly with it – the introductory activities are useful in themselves and for their implications to related technology.

For more information and sample course material please visit or email the author at az.oc.trep@retep.

6 Dec 2016 10:57


About Peter Horszowski

For a better way to teach