We love our coffee machines here at DDLS. Ours are no ordinary machines, no instant coffee scorched with hot water in a plastic cup for our delegates, nope; our machines are state of the art pieces of precision coffee making engineering.   Just as well as the coffee machine is the centre of the universe when it comes to a venue for some of the best conversations and debates, recently we’ve covered off who will win the X Factor, has man really walked on the moon and just how tricky  is the PRINCE2 certification exam. (Reece Mastin apparently, undecided and if you work hard you should be ok).  

I’m lucky enough to have worked with and count as friends some global authorities on learning, people like Donald H Taylor, chairman of the Learning and Performance Institute and Elliot Masie, editor of the Masie Center’s Learning Trends. I’ll wager none of them have had the moment of realisation I had this week whilst stood chatting by the aforementioned coffee machine.  It hit me that… “A good instructor is a lot like our coffee machine”, and no I don’t mean under pressure and likely to let off steam.  In fact, maybe a good learning experience relies on a quality brew.

As well as providing a venue for debate, a good coffee machine delivers a blended solution, taking the raw materials of milk, water and coffee beans and makes a solution that meets the needs of its customer. Be that a latté, flat white or a cappuccino, fundamentally the content is the same, its just that the ingredients have been delivered in a way that is relevant to the consumer.  And that, pushing the metaphore, is one of the benefits of an instructor led course, making the ingredients relevant to the learner, allowing them to get what they need from the course. We often get comments such as “the instructor was able to use real world examples that make the content relevant”.   I’m afraid the coffee machine analogy  breaks down there, few coffee machines can respond to tricky questions on the best way to configure Active Directory, when was the last time you saw a coffee machine with PRINCE2 certification, win the X Factor or walk on the moon?

Making it relevant

ILT or Instructor Led Training has been around since Adam studied for the A+ certification, its decline has been predicted with the arrival of CBT, then eLearning and now Virtual Instructor Led Training, yet real time in a real classroom with real people remains stubbornly popular.  The skill of any good learning solution is in recognising the learning styles of the delegates, balancing that with the needs of the organisation and, as DDLS has done many times, building a blended solution that perhaps includes multiple learning modalities, such as, ILT, eLearning and Virtual.   After all, despite the advances in technology, eLearning and Virtual training have yet to master delivering a perfect coffee over the internet.     An instructor led classroom course also has other, none coffee related,  benefits, the learning environment  for example presents an opportunity to network among your professional peers, it fosters a sense of solidarity and support (particularly for courses that include certification exams during the week) and additional anecdotal interaction always helps to bring the material to life. For me this is the secret to the success of any course I’ve ever been on, achieving an understanding of the subject and it’s relevant to me.

A chat around the coffee machine recently with students on a Microsoft C# .NET course revealed that our instructor had created an ad-hoc exercise that required the delegates to code something relevant to them, making the learning relevant and in context.  When, 15 years ago as an instructor,  I used to do the class introductions my heart would sink when I’d hear  “hello, I’m Fred and I don’t know why I’m here, my boss sent me” – how can I spin that course and make the learning relevant if the student isn’t sure why they are there.

Can anyone tell me the value of X?

Early last year, I was asked to speak to the kids at Emily,  my daughter’s,  school, the subject was using maths in the work place. I along with a doctor, a bank manager,  an engineer,  a police man etc all had 45 minutes to “teach” the kids the value of working hard in maths. Anyone who knows me knows I never understood the relevance of maths at school, never had the relevance to me explained and I didn’t enjoy the best of relationships with it. I’m still not sure of the value of X or why I’d care.

The teachers at my daughter’s school did explain that in previous years, kids had been less than inspired by the sessions. My 45 minutes was immediately after the bank manager, who covered off compound interest rates. This was going to be a tough gig. Luckily I was able to create some custom content.

  • Step 1: Get them interested, I talked about the mathematical error that in 1996 caused a rocket to blow up.
  • Step 2: Talk about ROI in general terms, we actually did an ROI break down on implementing Windows 7 in the school. 99% of the kids lost the will to live.
  • Step 3: Make it relevant. I asked if I could prove that an iPad2 would pay for its self using the power of ROI, would they like to go over it again. Yes they would. I still get emails about this.
  • Step 4: Relate the iPad example back to the real world.
  • Step 5: Explain why maths IS important from the service desk to the sales person
  • The slides are available for a small fee…

The result was engaged learners that understood maths in context.  With 250 parents being told that the ROI on an iPad 2 was less than two years, it did result in my being asked to leave the UK.

Instructor and coffee led training

DDLS is proud to be able to offer our clients solutions that combine, or blend, coffee, eLearning and Virtual Instructor Led Training – but I fly the flag for training delivered in the classroom, by a subject matter expert. Possibly because Instructor Led Training supported by a quality coffee machine, has many advantages and benefits for learners:

  • Face-to-face interactions with the instructor and real-time discussions are powerful ways to learn. Having an instructor answer questions and validate a learners’ understanding in real time.
  • The instructor can adapt how they deliver the learning based on the learners’ levels of understanding. Even the slowest of learners can be accommodated by an experienced instructor. Although even the best instructors will struggle when a student doesn’t meet the pre-requites for the course.
  • Classroom training allows for some  individual 1:1 attention from the instructor.
  • Instructor Led Training provide the opportunity for learners to make mistakes in a controlled environment, to learn from those mistakes and take the value of that back to the workplace
  • Classroom events provide the all-important “human touch,”  it’s hard on virtual training events to eat lunch with your instructor whilst discussing the merits of ITIL in the work place
  • Group interactions enhance the learning experience and allows for learning from different organisational cultures.
  • Hands on training in the classroom helps in learning kinesthetic skills – technical courses use real servers and routers – imagine learning to swim without access to a pool. (Mind you I learnt to programme without a computer)
  • People like classroom training and see it as a privilege resulting in better motivated learners.

We are proud of our coffee machine and our instructors here at DDLS Perth and look forward to welcoming you soon. Do you want sugar with that? Please like us on Facebook for coffee and menu updates.




PS Other hot water based beverages are also available from DDLS, these include Earl Grey and English Breakfast Tea. None hot water beverages include apple, orange, water and “pop” !