7 essential ingredients that make a course “awesome”…
Last week I was working through the verification process for one of our certification courses, delivered under license, by our partners in the USA, and I was delighted by this feedback on a course review form:
“I would just like to say, this is the best course and learning experience that I have had the pleasure of taking while here at “my company”. I would be highly interested in taking more training offered by your organization.”
Although it’s not actually unusual for trainees to heap praise on OTT courses, it was certainly good to see that our new business model, using delivery partners around the world, is really working well. And it also got me round to thinking, well what is it exactly that makes a live training course worthy of such praise?
When you analyse it, there are actually quite a lot of things that all need to come together to provide a learning experience that people enthuse about. At OTT, we’ve been doing training in fibre optics since 1989 and so have learned a lot over the years, so I thought I’d share with you some of the things that we work so hard at to make sure your learning experience is the best it can be.
It’s important for the course designer to understand the technology thoroughly to identify the critical factors for success: what you need to know, what you need to be able to do. A decades old mantra at OTT is to focus on providing the knowledge and skills to do the job.
Experience in the industry also helps to identify key job roles, who does what and how does their piece of the jigsaw fit in with others. Of course, knowing the whole picture is a particular strength of OTT with detailed in-depth knowledge of all aspects of fibre optic infrastructure and a comprehensive understanding of the systems that operate over that infrastructure. Often it is just as important to be able to filter out information that is not relevant as it is to know what to include in a course to make it coherent and effective. Again this is where expertise helps in identifying what is important and what is not.
Structured course content
Focusing on particular job roles also helps when it comes to sorting and organising information into a coherent structure for each course.
Building the knowledge, understanding and skills in a step-by-step fashion is important. Many of the subjects that we cover are pretty complex and so it is necessary to start with a firm foundation of knowledge on which to build. Then individual subjects and tasks are covered one at a time to allow a detailed focus on each topic. We aim to answer the sort of questions you will have in a straightforward way. Then everything can be put together often in the form of an assignment or project that is carefully designed to replicate a real-world scenario.
A good learning experience is facilitated through good training materials. Presentations that are visual, dynamic and engaging are important to focus on key points whilst being supported by in-depth course manuals that are comprehensive, authoritative and easy to find your way around. OTT manuals are modular, indexed, hyperlinked when used electronically, and they provide a valuable reference resource that is frequently used for years after the course is over! Many of our delegates also receive extra electronic resources that include interactive review questions to help study for the exams, as well as additional reference information. We encourage feedback so we can keep on improving our support materials.
We make extensive use of case studies with characters and scenarios that you can relate to, helping to put the training into context and providing an appreciation of different perspectives on the subjects being covered. For our optical networking courses, we’ve even designed our own ‘virtual’ optical networking system and this is supported with handle-able mock ups and full technical specifications.
For live courses, then the role of the trainer is key. They will know their subjects thoroughly, so that they can answer your questions, support from OTT means that even the most complex issues can be addressed authoritatively. The trainer will also have real world experience of actually working in the industry. This means that they can pass on tips and tricks to help you to put things into practice back at work. Of course, the trainer also needs to be able to communicate clearly and effectively to be able to explain things as well as keeping you entertained and engaged for the duration of the course.
Resources & equipment
On an OTT practical course, when we say hands-on we mean your hands-on. So when you’re on a testing course, such as the CFCE, then not only will you have plenty of test equipment to use but you’ll have interesting and realistic systems to test. Our specially designed and constructed test systems help to replicate situations that you’ll find in the field so you’ll be ready and able to face real world challenges back in the workplace. We know that providing enough equipment is critical to the success of the course, so we recommend our partners limit course numbers, usually eight delegates, to make sure you get the most out of the learning experience.
Assessment & assignment
As a basis for the certifications that we award, all certification courses require you to pass a formal exam as well as completing a practical assignment.We find that having a formal exam helps to focus your attention throughout the course and motivates you to study for the exam. The practical assignment helps to consolidate the skills that you have acquired during the week and puts everything together in a realistic scenario. All assessments are sent through to OTT for verification.
Of course a vital ingredient is YOU! Learners that are motivated and enthusiastic and work well together as a team during the course can really make a course zing. We want you to come on the course expecting to work hard and to learn a lot, our courses are pretty intensive. If you’re on one of our advanced level courses, then it helps a lot if you’ve done the basic level courses first or have the right background knowledge and experience to make the most of the learning opportunity. So you can see that OTT and our training delivery partners take great care to make sure that the learning experience you get exceeds your expectations. Most delegates report that they have learned way more than they expected to on their course.