The Value of Live Demonstrations

by Jim Goughenour
The Value Of Live Demonstrations

Online resources have long been valuable in the pursuit of knowledge. Watching someone work through a demonstration of some topic and seeing what is actually happening in the device or devices really ties conceptual to actual. With that in mind, I was watching a recording of a live event presented online some days ago as I prepared for yet another certification exam, and even though the event was a recording, I still found value in the presentation (I was preparing for a certification exam that was going to take place the next day). I even had enough time to take notes and write some things down that I thought would help me…and they did!

In our classroom environments, more often than not, I tie what I learn conceptually to what I do in a lab environment that ties together all the pieces of whatever topic puzzle I am working through. Even though I may not understand fully what is happening on the front side of that experience, the experience itself gives me an opportunity to define a starting point in the pursuit of understanding.

As an instructor, it matters to me a great deal that topics presented are clear, understood, and absorbed by the students that I have the privilege of standing before. With that in mind, I proposed to our management team the idea (not new of course) that a live demonstration might be in order for a couple of topics. They agreed, and so next month, I will present a couple of topics that have a fair number of moving parts. I am excited about it and hope that it will add value to the learning experience the students will experience.

That is not the point of this post though. The point of this post is to offer that as you all consider value in your learning dollar spent, I would encourage all of you to examine what the facilitator of that learning has to offer, and to what degree you as a learner will be able to leverage that to your benefit.  Allow me to digress a little…

When I became an instructor some 10 years ago, I took on the responsibility of contributing to the knowledge of and understanding of the topics being covered in the course I teach. Whiteboards, both electronic and physical, became an all important tool in that pursuit, and to this day, more often than not, I clear screens and draw things and shoot different angles on a topic to ensure that the studnet gets more than they need to understand what is being presented. To that end, I provide online resources that do the same thing – different approaches to the same topic discussed in different ways and presented using different tools. It is why if you perform a search on say the topic of IPv4 subnetting, you will get thousands of responses from the search tool and will be presented with every conceivable way of understanding that topic. That is the whole idea! More is better in this regard, as if the first resource leaves a little bit of understanding to be acquired, there is more to view to fill in the gaps.

Now you may get to this point in the blog and say to yourself, “This sounds like a sales pitch blog,” and to some degree you would be correct. Rest assured that it is more than that though. On a deeper level, and beneath all the hype, an appeal to really evaluate where you put your money and what is reasonably expected from the spend.

At Skyline-ATS, and I think part of what differentiates us in the marketplace of service providers, is the fact that part of what will be different for you as a student is the fact that all of us instructors will provide you with abundant opportunity to reach out after the formal learning experience. All of us will do whatever it takes to assist in the “filling of the knowledge gaps” that you are left with after a course experience. And all of us, without a doubt, care deeply about the knowledge transfer you have invested in.

And that brings me back to the title of this blog – “The Value of Live Demonstrations.” Over the next couple of months, I am presenting two live demonstrations online and my hope is that everyone who is currently struggling to understand Spanning Tree Protocol (STP) and static routing will come along and ask a ton of questions and really drive the direction and content of the live demonstration. I want the experience to look more like an hour of study group and less like an hour of prepared slide decks with instruction attached to them.

In closing, I encourage you all to really evaluate where you are spending your training budgets, and further ensure that there is deep and intrinsic value in the dollar spent. This is not to take anything at all away from the purely autonomous instruction that exists, as there is value in that as well, but it is to highlight that live demonstrations have built-in intrinsic value. Thanks so much for reading this and as always, if you have questions, we are here to help answer them

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