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Idea for a New Style of Training
By Richard Rost   Richard Rost on Twitter Richard Rost on LinkedIn Email Richard Rost   14 months ago

I have a concept and I want to run it by a few of you. I've talked about this idea with Alex, and he thinks it's a good idea.

If you're familiar with Choose Your Own Adventure books which were very popular back when I was growing up in the 70s and 80s, it's a style of literature where you read a little bit of the story and then make a decision. "To follow the left fork in the road, turn to page 89. To go right, turn to page 94." And by doing this, you control the narrative of the story.

My concept is to do something like this, but with training. Let's take Access for example, which is what most of my lessons are about. You're a new user, so you watch the "Introduction" video and get a brief background about Access and what a database is. If you don't care about database concepts and theory, skip on to getting start with Table Design. Otherwise, more theory lessons are available.

Next up: Table design, which gives you a choice. "If you just want to build a simple table and get started entering data, click here. If you want to learn more about the details of constructing a table from scratch, click here."

The former lesson will just briefly go over the basics of fields and data types. The latter will go into all the nitty-gritty of field sizes, validation rules, etc. There will essentially be a road map you can follow. You can get a quick overview of each topic, or "dig deeper" into a specific one. 

I realize that a lot of people want to just "get to it" when it comes to databases. They want a brief overview of tables and queries, but maybe they want to spend a lot more time on form design and relationships. This would give them that option.

Right now, my lessons are taught in the order that I believe it's best to learn things, but even my idea of "what" to cover "when" has changed over the years. I probably should get to relationships earlier in the series, and not wait quite so long to introduce some basic VBA. But some users might want to spend a lot of time learning everything there is to know about query formulas.

Obviously this will take me a LOT of time to set up. The web site is pretty much already configured to handle these kinds of lessons with the new way I present things. I can easily put links below each video to take you in different directions. It's the time it will take to map everything out and record new videos.

What do you think? Obviously, this concept will be MOST useful to NEW users who are just getting started with Access, but as people who have taken a lot of my courses, I value your input.


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Elaine Heltman 
14 months ago
Love this flexible learning path concept, Rick. Being able to skim the surface or take a deep dive into an issue would benefit students of all levels. As you mentioned, a typical course tends to be step-wise, but this self-driven, flexible learning path concept is a great way to learn or hone a new skill efficiently and effectively. Looking forward to seeing this new adventure progress!
Richard Rost
14 months ago
Thanks for the feedback, and the encouragement! :)
Stacy Atchison
6 months ago
Comment DISCLAIMER: My opinion is extremely biased as I read the book series as well and was obsessed!!  
Disclaimer aside - I LOVE this idea!  From a student aspect;  the ability to access training according to their immediate purpose would be a total game changer.  Choose a Get Up and Running Quick path, then be able to go back later and... choose a different adventure!  From a business perspective: This option would substantially increase your conversion rate!!  Under normal circumstances I would have steered away from website without looking back.  However,  you offer unique elements that my inner geek just couldn't resist!!  FYI, my husband refers to 'my inner geek' as Audrey II !!! LOL!  As always, Thank You for all you do!!
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Margaret Cattarin 
14 months ago
I love this idea.  It reinforces the importance of mapping a data base design so that it functions properly and provides desired results.

I include a section on available "tools", much like a video game.  It could be a dictionary , of sorts, where students can find the available properties and what happens if they are applied.  (For example, selecting rich text as a field property in a table affects the field in a form and a report.) Read More...
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Chris Bezant 
14 months ago
As a seasoned student I am happy with the current style however I can see the value of the new method for newer students. My immediate concern is that this change would take you away from projects already in progress such as genealogy, pos system and developer series. A bit selfish I know but I would prefer you to finish these projects that are incomplete before embarking on the new approach. Read More...
Richard Rost
14 months ago
Chris, I fully respect what you're saying. I don't mean for this to be a "drop everything and work on it now" project. Of course I'm going to keep working on those other courses too. This would be something that I put together a little bit at a time, at first, to see if people like it.

Besides, I'm the kind of person where I can't work on one project too long without going a little crazy. I have to be able to put a project down for a bit and shift my focus to something else for a little while, and then come back to it. That's one of the reasons I've always worked for myself instead of getting a "real job" for another company. I need to be flexible with how I spend my time. Can't do the same thing over and over or I'll go nuts. Some days I record videos. Some days I work on customer emails. Some days I do work on the web site.

Plus, working on a project for a bit and setting it aside gives me time to gauge user feedback. If I put together an entire seminar like I used to do in the old days and say it was DONE, and then I get a bunch of feedback on it, it's very hard to update later. This way, I can post a lesson or two, get your feedback, and then make improvements and changes for the next lessons.

This new project will be something I do a little bit at a time - aimed at beginner users. My Word, Excel, and other Office lessons are in BAD need of updates. Word hasn't been updated since 2007. PowerPoint and Outlook since 2003. I might start this with Word lessons.

But don't worry: Access is my forte. It's what I love, and I will always keep releasing new material for Access. Not only do I enjoy making Access videos with a passion but, quite frankly it's what pays the bills. :)

Richard Rost
14 months ago
I'll also probably keep "packaging" the lessons in one-hour chunks. So from a business standpoint, you can either join as a subscriber and have access to whatever videos in this new "choose your own" system you want to watch OR buy them as "Level 1, Level 2, etc." lessons where they're packaged together hourly like I have right now. It will just be a different way of presenting the lessons with a customizable flow online.
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