Are you a Teacher, Trainer, or Lifelong Learner?

Posted on: August 25, 2010

How often do we need teaching and training materials of some type?

I’m sure you’ll recognize these common formats, which can be presented in a variety of media: teaching aids, guides, manuals, tutorials, procedures, documentation, directions, textbooks, applied exercises, and workbooks.

If you are a business writer or a technical writer, then you already know that writing training materials is one of the most frequent projects in the workplace. You also know that this type of writing has lasting consequences for your audience and affects your company’s success in the marketplace. How best to meet the needs of your audience? Which techniques really work to help achieve your company’s training objectives?

If you are a teacher or a trainer, whether in a school or a corporate classroom, you’re aware of the constant need to find innovative, effective methods of teaching your subject. It’s a never-ending hunt for new ideas and approaches, isn’t it?

If you are a lifelong learner, you know the impact that really good teaching materials can have on how well you learn, and whether you can apply your new knowledge. But it’s easy to forget the details as the years wear on, and maybe there are some aspects of a subject you just never really got around to learning, but would like to. Wouldn’t it be great to have another resource that supplied that information for you whenever you wanted it?

As Fortune Would Have It, Here Is Something You May Find Worthwhile

Today I read an article in Fortune magazine about one of Bill Gates’ favorite online educational websites, the Khan Academy, a non-profit organization that is the brainchild of one man, Salman Kahn.

Khan, who created the 1,600-plus titles in the video library, states on the site that his library has become the “most-used educational video resource as measured by YouTube video views per day and unique users per month.” In addition to creating more videos, he is also busy enhancing his ever-growing library with user-paced exercises.

Oh, and did I mention that it’s all free? The goal of “the Khan Academy [is] to become the free classroom for the World.”

The website offers short videos (about 15 minutes each), which provide mini-lectures about a slew of subjects, ranging from mathematics to the sciences to history to finance/banking to current economics, and more.

The tutorials are conversational and low-key. Viewers see an electronic blackboard on which Kahn doodles and diagrams and draws as he speaks, communicating his concepts in a way that is easy to understand. The short segments convey the substance of each topic in a memorable way.

Learning Is Fundamental to Our Success

Writer, trainer or learner, we can all agree that teaching and learning are fundamental to our success as individuals, as companies and as a country.

And we can all benefit from exploring different ways of teaching and learning. No one has cornered the market on methodology, and new technologies can expand our horizons. We should be open to new possibilities and curious about discovering fresh ways of communicating ideas and knowledge.

Khan’s playlist of tutorials now gets an average of 70,000 hits a day, according to the Fortune article. Clearly, he’s offering something that many people the world over find very useful. What about you?

What do you think of Khan’s teaching library? If you are a writer, does it give you any new ideas to apply in creating training materials? If you are a teacher or trainer, do you find his approach usable in your own work?

Please leave comments to share your thoughts and insights with the rest of us.  Elizabeth Lexleigh  LexPower  The Write Ideas


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