The days of learning with an instructor, a whiteboard, and PowerPoint presentation in the front of a classroom and 20 students at desks, each with a hard copy student guide and a pen sitting in the back of the room are changing rapidly. The number of content types and ways in which educators can deliver content has never been greater. Think about it:
- Books – hard copy, e-books, downloadable, CD/DVD
- Audio/Video – on demand recording, real-time streaming, text, graphical animations
- Delivery – self-paced, instructor led, online, in-person, recorded, live
- Labs – simulated equipment, actual equipment, flat charge, subscription fee, structured labs, customizable topologies
So which method is most effective? I suppose the best approach to choosing a learning experience is to understand you don’t necessarily have to limit yourself to just one method. There are three basic types of learning: auditory, visual, and kinesthetic – listening, seeing and doing. Each medium and delivery method has its strengths and weaknesses, and therefore, using a combination of methods may give you the best results.
If you are relatively new to networking, I would recommend starting with some type of self-paced learning, possibly an online, recorded course in which you can access on-demand. A subscription fee gives you access to the content as many times you want, at any time you want, for a year or so. With this format, a student has the ability to pause the recordings and research a particular topic of which he or she may need a bit more understanding. Some offerings also provide access to a technical instructor to answer questions and provide explanations.
Once a fundamental base of knowledge has been obtained, students can more easily make the transition to the pace of an instructor-led course. And in the world of instructor-led training you will find even more changes to the traditional learning experience. We’ll save that for another article.