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Train the Trainers Course Debuts at Orlando HamCation

02/27/2009

The inaugural Train the Trainers course -- supported by a grant from the ARRL Foundation -- made its first appearance on February 13-14 at HamCation in Orlando, Florida. Led by ARRL Education and Technology Program Coordinator Mark Spencer, WA8SME, 12 participants -- primarily from the ARRL Southeastern Division -- completed the course. HamCation is the ARRL Southeastern Division's convention.

According to Spencer, the focus of the Train the Trainers course is on course development, instructional techniques and instructional resources -- not on the technical content of the course. The objective of the course is to develop and validate a model program that could be used to provide instruction to volunteer ham radio licensing course instructors, helping to improve their teaching effectiveness.

ARRL Chief Development Officer Mary Hobart, K1MMH, attended the Train the Trainers course: "When I agreed to attend the Train the Trainer sessions at Orlando HamCation, I intended to be a fly on the wall. But as a volunteer instructor myself, I found that I was caught up in the enthusiasm of those who signed up for the course. Each of the participants came with a set of teaching experiences, and left with even more -- and some made dramatic changes in their philosophy and approach to teaching licensing classes. I found the hours I spent under Mark's leadership rewarding and very, very useful. Kudos to Director Sarratt and the HamCation team for their support of this pilot project. I hope that this is just the beginning of something that can enhance our teaching of ham radio licensing."

Spencer commended the Orlando Amateur Radio Club (OARC) -- HamCation's sponsor -- for their "exceptional job of providing a venue for the class. ARRL Southeastern Division Director Greg Sarratt, W4OZK, and his primary point of contact, Ed Tyler, KI4GKS, did an excellent job of advertising the course, accepting applications from interested volunteer instructors and vetting and selecting the final pool of participants."

Spencer said the response from the course's participants was enthusiastic. Here are a few comments:

The course provided some great insights to different approaches to subject matter, including out-of-the-ordinary presentation strategies and considerations for class preparation.

Participations were able to compare real-life classroom experiences.

I expected new techniques, and I got them. Rearranging the material in a logical manner was something that made sense, but I had not given any thought.

The other (more important?) way the class exceeded my expectations was the caliber of the "students" themselves. They were engaged, brilliant and motivated for this to work. I like to think of myself as a really good instructor, but I learned quite a number of useful and interesting things from the classroom discussions just with the students.

The most valuable feature of the class was the opportunity to "face down my fear" and present in front of an audience of top-notch people who were there to critique my work -- scary, yes; on the edge, yes. But a very powerful motivational and quality-oriented tool to really pay attention to the lessons and put forward one's very best effort, and then learn from those critiques.



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