Prior to running my Vectorworks courses online, I used to run them in a classroom. At the time it seemed like the best thing that I could do. I was aware at the time that repetition was important, and the way the courses were structured, it allowed time for the attendees to practice, while I would circulate the room, helping any users that were struggling.
For a long time this worked well. I did notice though, that after a few days of training, the users could follow instructions, but the instructions were not sinking in. The users could not remember the instructions they had been give ten minutes ago. One user said to me that he was suffering from “brain-fade”.
I know that the human attention span is 60-90 minutes. After this, it is hard to keep concentrating. So, stopping my lessons for a break every 90 minutes would be the answer, but the feed back from the users was that they want to learn, and they do not want too many breaks in the day.
When I was able to use online training with GoToMeeting, it gave me the change to completely I change my training system. I was able to shorten the lessons to 60-90 minutes, and I was able to get users to practice at least once a day. This has had a huge impact to the success of the course. I am now finding that when users have completed the course, they are able to retain more information, and understand more about the concepts in the course.
I have recently started reading a book called Smart Thinking: How to Think Big, Innovate and Outperform Your Rivals [Kindle Edition] by Art Markman. This is a great book and it sets out how the brain works and how we learn. And, repetition is vital to learning. It turns out that the brain likes to work on auto-pilot as much as possible. For example, if you learn the keyboard shortcut for the Selection tool (x) then every time you need it, you can hit the x key without thinking about it. This will make it easier to use Vectorworks, and it makes it easier on your brain, because it doesn’t have to think too much. Repeating exercises allows the brain to remember the instructions and understand them.
It appears from reading this book, that the online structure for the course has a big advantage. Each session is short, just 60 mins. The user then has at least two days before the next session, allowing time for repetition. The user can put in as much effort as they want, and every time they repeat the lesson, they get better at it. This allows the user to build their skill incrementally, building each session on the foundations of the last one.
Upskill yourself, join a course now.