Hardware

Don't be afraid of teaching graphics classes

Teaching graphics applications isn't quite the same as teaching word processing or spreadsheet programs. James Adams shares some tips for drawing out the best in your students.


Do you cringe at the prospect of teaching a graphic applications class? Fear not, brave trainer! Even if you don’t consider yourself to be the most artistic type in the world, you can still give your students their money’s worth.

The three Ts
If you’re using the old tried and true three Ts method—tell them, teach them, then tell them again—with dry-erase markers on a whiteboard, upgrade your method for your graphics apps classes. You can’t teach a graphics class effectively without a screen projector. Graphically inclined, right-brained people learn better through watching instead of hearing.

Employ the three T’s—with some minor changes. Tell them—and demonstrate how the apps work on a PC, with the projector putting your instruction up in lights. Teach them—and step them through the process or exercise using the projector. Tell them again—demonstrating again with the projector.

Using the projector
If you have never used a projector in a classroom environment, here are a few things to watch:
  • Position the projector so that you are facing your students. In doing so, you can monitor for understanding and watch their expressions or body language to make sure they are keeping up.
  • Never use the projector as a crutch to anchor yourself to the chair.
  • Don’t block the projected image. The students will be more focused on how nicely the picture looks on your face than what you are saying.

Draw from your experience
If you have any knowledge of the graphic industry, draw from that experience to show examples of when to use a particular effect or tool. If you lack graphics experience, prompt the students to give examples on how they might use an effect or tool. You can get a lot of great examples from students to use for your next class.

You may want to throw out the question, “Is there anyone in here who can think of a good application for this effect?” If you ask that question, be sure to have an example to throw out in case your students draw a blank.

Another good way to get examples from students is to have them play with the tools you have just shown them. Occasionally you will have a student who is flat-out talented and will take the tools to the limit. Take advantage of your walks around the room to learn something new.

Create a good assignment
One more thing you can do to help facilitate learning is to give your students a project at the end of the day that incorporates the tools and techniques that you have shown them during the class. Try not to make the project too difficult—the students will feel a sense of loss if they are unable to complete the task.

Most trainers are showoffs in the classroom (myself included), which is fine in most cases. Rather than trying to show off your abilities, simply put together an easy project that forces the students to use what you have shown them. Above all, have fun and be creative in making the assignment, and encourage your students to be creative in the way they complete it.

James Adams is a long-time trainer and former tattoo artist. To comment on this article, follow this link to write to James.

Editor's Picks

Free Newsletters, In your Inbox