One thing that we stress here at Base2 is that our Tutors should be flexible and adapt to the attendees needs.  This blog describes a perfect example.

The Request

We received a request from a regular customer.  They wanted us to run a course, the aim being to “mop up the people who were not able to attend the courses you ran for us earlier in the year

I looked back in my records and found that the person organising the course had asked for “a combination of elements from your Intermediate and Advanced Microsoft Excel courses”.  The e-mail then went on to itemise the topics they would like to see covered.

After further discussions, I had created a course booklet for a two-day Microsoft Excel Workshop, which we delivered twice with great success.  The attendees loved it.

Alarm Bells

I printed out six fresh copies of this Workshop and headed off to the customer site.

My first “Alarm Bell” was when a nice lady collected me from reception to take me to the Training Suite.  She said “I’m looking forward to this course.  Mind you, I don’t know much about Excel”.  The material I had brought with me certainly wasn’t aimed at people who didn’t know much about Excel.

Undeterred, I began the course in the usual way.  I got the attendees to write down what they Know already about Excel, and what they Need to Know (i.e. what they wanted to get out of the session).  Not surprisingly, the “Rookie” wrote that she knew “Nothing” and wanted to learn “Basic Excel”.

Next, I got them to do a Revision Exercise.  This comes from the beginning of our Intermediate day and is designed to find gaps in their knowledge.  For people at Intermediate level, I would expect this to take twenty to thirty minutes.

Sure enough, all bar one took about half an hour to create the spreadsheet, with the odd bit of help from me and some discussion amongst themselves.

Now came my second “Alarm Bell”.  The other attendee did the exercise perfectly in five minutes flat with no help.

I realised that I was faced with a wide range of past experience from “Rookie” to “Star Pupil”.  An adjustment to the planned syllabus was needed.

What to Do?

The material for the first day of the Workshop was mainly from the Intermediate course, so I was able to run that just about as intended.  To help the Rookie I added some sections on Basic Formulas and Basic Formatting.  Everyone coped well.

However, I knew the second day would need more thought.  Our training day is usually split in four sessions of about 90 minutes each (with breaks mid-morning, lunchtime and mid-afternoon).  The trouble was that Workshop contained only topics from our Advanced course on day two.

I thought it only fair to the Star Pupil to spend a session on subjects that would challenge her.  So we spent the first part of the day on More Advanced Functions.  Even those with less experience were able to complete the tasks by following the course notes and/or asking me.

To continue with the planned material would have been disastrous.  Most of the attendees would have been lost.  The knowledge gained would have been no use to them at this stage of their Excel careers.  So, I announced that the rest of the day would be “Back to Basics”.

For the next three sessions, I did a potted Introduction/Intermediate Microsoft Excel course.  By adding more depth to some of the topics, I was able to keep the interest of the “Star Pupil”.  Indeed, it was clear that I was covering a lot of material that she didn’t know.

The Outcome

Was the Workshop a success?  Here is what the “Rookie” wrote on her Post-Course Evaluation Form:

I would recommend this Workshop as I found it very useful.  I had very little knowledge of Excel and now feel a lot more comfortable with it.

I received an e-mail from the Star Pupil the next day:

The training was very good and I’m glad I took part in it.

Would I have got such good comments if I had stuck rigidly to the original Workshop?  Definitely not!

If you would like to experience our flexible attitude to training why not contact
For the tutors at Base2, altering a course to meet the attendee’s needs is “All in a day’s work