Sunday, November 23, 2008

Joy of teaching adult education

On the evening of October 6, 2008 I taught a two-hour adult education course at Timberline High School for the Community Education Program held by the Boise Schools. The course was titled Surf No More – Internet Research Refined. This was by far the longest presentation that I have ever given. I used 60 PowerPoint slides.

As is usual for adult education one challenge is that the backgrounds of the dozen or so students varied widely. Some were new computer users. Others were very experienced. One was a Toastmaster from my club (Jose Telleria, ACG) who has long run his own software company. Another formerly had worked in R & D at Micron Technology, Inc. and she had quite a few patents on computer memory. Everyone took away some useful information.

I broke the presentation into four chunks:
Introduction (the basics)

Where to look
How to look (tactics)
How to look (strategies).

Before beginning each chunk I gave the class a written handout with those PowerPoint slides so they could concentrate on the talk rather than on writing.

The main point on where to look was that you should never just have one tool for search. You need a whole box of tools, like the Boise Public Library web search page. For more advanced users I recommended the Toddington search page called Essential Tools for Internet Geologists.

This course began as a presentation on Internet Research which I gave in April 2004 to a dinner meeting of the Portland chapter of the American Society of Women Accountants. In 2005 it also was given to an IEEE chapter, but that’s another story.

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