Tech & Work

How to approach teaching new topics

Sooner or later, you're going to be asked to teach a course you've never taught. Get some advice from these TechRepublic articles on how to manage teaching new material.


It’s bound to happen to every IT trainer sooner or later—you’re just getting proficient at teaching Microsoft Word version 8.0 when, wham! Your boss wants you to “right quick” prepare a class in Lotus Notes. What do you do when you’ve never even opened a Lotus Note before?

These TechRepublic articles can help you deal with new subjects, especially when you get a last-minute teaching assignment.

Leaving your comfort zone
It doesn’t matter if you’re a contract-trainer-for-hire or the top trainer in your organization’s training department. Eventually, you’re going to be asked to teach a course you’ve never taught before.

This article offers a tried-and-true instructional design syllabus based on four basic questions:
  1. What’s the main thrust of what I’m saying?
  2. What do I bring to the table?
  3. What’s the best mode of presentation for this particular piece of information?
  4. How do I make it worth the participants’ time?

Bottom line—if you have to design a customized course in 24 hours or less, don’t skip this one.

Who’s on first?
Let’s face it. Applications that have been around for a while are easier to teach than new ones. Columnist Schoun Regan will show you how to manage teaching new software releases in his aptly named article “What doyou do when there is no expert trainer?

For openers, Regan recommends getting your instructors access to beta versions of new software, even if this means signing up with a vendor, paying a fee, signing a standard nondisclosure agreement, or the most likely scenario of doing a combination of the three.

In addition, make your instructors put those beta versions of the software to the test in the so-called “real world” environment. Have your instructors select every menu option and click every button. Make sure they know how to import and export data. Most importantly, have them intentionally crash the program to see what happens. In this manner, instructors will be ahead of the game when it comes to identifying any bugs, cheats, or quirks in the software.
What tried-and-true impromptu teaching tips, techniques, and tricks have you discovered as an IT trainer? Let us know by sending us a note.
It’s bound to happen to every IT trainer sooner or later—you’re just getting proficient at teaching Microsoft Word version 8.0 when, wham! Your boss wants you to “right quick” prepare a class in Lotus Notes. What do you do when you’ve never even opened a Lotus Note before?

These TechRepublic articles can help you deal with new subjects, especially when you get a last-minute teaching assignment.

Leaving your comfort zone
It doesn’t matter if you’re a contract-trainer-for-hire or the top trainer in your organization’s training department. Eventually, you’re going to be asked to teach a course you’ve never taught before.

This article offers a tried-and-true instructional design syllabus based on four basic questions:
  1. What’s the main thrust of what I’m saying?
  2. What do I bring to the table?
  3. What’s the best mode of presentation for this particular piece of information?
  4. How do I make it worth the participants’ time?

Bottom line—if you have to design a customized course in 24 hours or less, don’t skip this one.

Who’s on first?
Let’s face it. Applications that have been around for a while are easier to teach than new ones. Columnist Schoun Regan will show you how to manage teaching new software releases in his aptly named article “What doyou do when there is no expert trainer?

For openers, Regan recommends getting your instructors access to beta versions of new software, even if this means signing up with a vendor, paying a fee, signing a standard nondisclosure agreement, or the most likely scenario of doing a combination of the three.

In addition, make your instructors put those beta versions of the software to the test in the so-called “real world” environment. Have your instructors select every menu option and click every button. Make sure they know how to import and export data. Most importantly, have them intentionally crash the program to see what happens. In this manner, instructors will be ahead of the game when it comes to identifying any bugs, cheats, or quirks in the software.
What tried-and-true impromptu teaching tips, techniques, and tricks have you discovered as an IT trainer? Let us know by sending us a note.

Editor's Picks

Free Newsletters, In your Inbox