Having recently been part of a specialist training program, I thought I would write some thoughts about different ways of computer training, and how they benefit different kinds of people. I have thought about several methods of training, as listed below:

Personal Training

I believe that personal, one-to-one computer training is best, if it can be arranged. Training in the learner’s own home, using the computer they are familiar with, and at their own pace, with time to ask questions when required. The learner feels that the training is tailored just for them, even though the trainer may have covered the topic many times with others.

The limitation of this method is that the trainer may only be able to cover a small area due to travel limitations, and the trainee may not be available when the trainer is. However, provided these issues are overcome, this is probably the best method for understanding a topic as quickly as possible. 

Computer training in a group

Some people prefer to take a group computer training class. This is good as it may be more structured that personal training, and may lead to a recognised qualification which could help with employment. However, sometimes a group class can’t take into account the different skill levels of the students, and the pace may be too fast (or too slow!) for some of them, leading to a loss of motivation.

Online videos or Books

There is a huge selection of videos and books available to teach people about computers and technology (and just about any other subject!!). Videos and books are great to enable the student to be able to go back over a topic until they understand, and may be useful in demonstrating particular operations that the student can then practice. Trouble is, there are so many videos and books on the market, how do you know which is best? There are also lots of ‘reviews’ of training material available on-line, but how do you trust what is said about a particular product? It is best to purchase these products only on the recommendation of a trusted friend of other acquaintance.

Personal Coaching

Very similar to one-to-one training in some ways, personal coaching can be employed, but not necessarily in the student’s home. Coaching can be done in a number of ways, by simple availability for answering questions via email, by personal guidance through structured lessons, with marking of assignments if required, or by wider group coaching. All these techniques have their benefits and disadvantages, but here you are able to make use of the expertise of the coach in just as personal a way as if they were at home with you giving you personal tuition. Group coaching can be just as successful as individual coaching, in that the group momentum can keep people going at roughly the same pace, and group members can help each other, as we have found in the ‘Quick Start Challenge’, but some people will always fall by the wayside if they feel it is not for them.

So how do I choose the best training method?

Before answering this question, you need to ask ‘What do I want to learn?’ and ‘How much time have I got?’. You need to understand your own preferences regarding learning, and find out the availability of training in your local area. Answering these questions may eliminate several of the options. If you are a complete beginner with computers it is a waste of time trying to promote on-line training by videos etc., as most beginners will not be accessing your promotions! Most experienced trainers will undertake a ‘training needs assessment’ with you to determine what you need to learn and how best to do your training, so take their advice before deciding.

I am a computer trainer based in the West Midlands region of the UK, and so my scope is limited when it comes to personal tuition to about a 50-mile radius from my home. However, my scope is much wider when it comes to the other methods of training, and so I offer the different methods to help a much wider group of people, whether they are complete beginners or people looking for more advanced training. Have a look at www.netsurfersacademy.training for more information on the computer training we offer, using all the above training methods as appropriate.