How much fun will your three year old child have learning to ride a bike?

Training wheels don’t work

If you have a young child who will learn to ride a bike sometime soon, you probably have recollections of the bike that you learnt on, and the awkwardness of bikes with stabilisers (also known as: training wheels). Recently, I came across this article about training wheels and balance bikes and it reminded me of the very different experience with my youngest son.

Balance bikes are much better

Balance bikes are great, as this video (not of my child) shows!

In my experience, they are obviously a better way to learn to ride a bike and it’s very surprising that anyone buys bikes with stabilisers (training wheels) any more. On a more professional note, this is also one of the best examples that I have encountered of innovation applied to learning by choosing different disclosure sequences, but that is a much bigger story.

How it started Continue reading

A better Java programming course?

Questions, questions!

What would a better training course be like?

In what ways would it differ?

For whom would it be better?

How would we know that it is better?

What would we measure?

Better for learners and providers

In general, whatever you are learning, all of these questions might be important to you. To a large extent, the answers depend on your needs and on the structure of the subject area. So, more specifically, my interest is in the answers in the case of learning to use a programming language.

In talking to potential partners who would like to be able to deliver a course on Java programming, I am struck by the absence of any discussion of what might make a course better than other courses. Naturally, there is discussion about the course being “better” for the training provider.

But in the end, the needs of the learner will surely dominate. So, of course, “better” must mean better in the eye of the beholder, who is ultimately the learner, although there may be two or more layers in between.

What is needed?

Having spent hundreds of hours training people in Java programming, it is clear to me that there is more than one way to approach the subject. Having spent hundreds more hours training people in object-oriented design for implementation in Java, it is also clear to me that the most generally used approach does not work at all well.

People who have completed a Java course, apparently without undue difficulty, can frequently manage to avoid understanding some important concepts.

So, a few years ago, I set out to do better. The resulting course has been the subject of my thoughts, from time to time, ever since.  It seems to stand the test of time.

Improving the sequence!

For the Java programming course in question, I have modified the sequence in ways that are mostly subtle, but not always! As you may know, this is consistent with my belief that the sequence is the foundation of learning anything.

When the course is available, we can discuss the specific differences from a more normal sequence. But, in the meantime, I am thinking about what might be expected  by learners and others, and about whether further changes are also possible.

“Innovation” is manageable!

This is news to many people and organisations. Many take the view that “innovation” happens somehow, and that it is fairly random, risky and unmanageable. But others are showing that this is not so.

The article, The manageability of innovation, describes that this is not unlike the situation in other areas in the past.

As the article concludes: there is a lot to learn and to do!

However, the main point is that the news is out …

“Innovation” IS manageable!

What are you going to do about it?!

Making light of decision making

[Great to report: this post has been reproduced by here by GTD Times, the official GTD publication which publishes many insightful articles and provides much information and more on the application of GTD.]

As a follower of GTD, I am fortunate to receive many things, including the Productive Living newsletter. This particular edition included some “food for thought” about decision making, which I found extremely nutritious!

Information and accuracy

It brought to mind two things that I have often thought, and perhaps there is a link between them. Continue reading

Controlling the sequence of learning

Among the reactions to the article on sequences of learning is a post from Brett McLaughlin on the O’Reilly Radar blog, that poses questions about the design of the sequence.

Learning is important to us all  in so many ways; so learning (yup!) more about learning seems to be particularly important! However there are a considerable range of contexts in which learning occurs; and sometimes this causes the generic lessons to be more difficult to uncover. Continue reading