Apple Training V: The Final Impressions

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Now that I have things pretty much under control back home, I promised that I would post my impressions on the Apple Training upgrade to 10.5 that I attended for the past two weeks.

The Design
Overall, the design actually follows some instructional design techniques, unlike the Tiger materials. The student, as they progress through the course, must utilize the techniques, steps, and knowledge they had acquired in previous chapters. Building upon the previous material the students are reinforced in that material, and are not treated as mindless children that can't learn. Constructivist theories at the heart of it, which makes me happy. THe command line is no longer separate from the individual events that the commands apply to, but rather you learn the command line all through the book. Finally, the training becomes professional, and therefore something I am proud to offer at the University.

The Materials
The materials are being published through PeachPit, though the student kits will only be available to an Apple Authorized Training Center. They are very well done, with bits of the lecture in with the slide presentations. They no longer follow the Reference book, which has additional assignments should someone want to continue on with their learning in another direction. The only thing that I currently see wrong is having a place for notes, should the instructor choose to cover a specific topic in more detail. Other than that, it will be professionally bound, and cost less than the workbooks that were available from Apple. ^_^ Good news for any Apple Authorized Training Center.

The Test
now that I have taken both tests, I can say that the tests are written a little better than the previous test, though I took the longer version than will be available for everyone else. The test will be designed to have someone sit for 2 hours (mine was designed for someone to sit for 2.5 hours), and instead of killing all the easy questions, both easy and hard questions will be removed from the test. This way the test results will be generally higher, and passing will also need to be higher. For now, it will still be multiple choice, but they are looking into some real application and development along that front. What I would like to see is a practical sit-down test, similar to Red Hat's exams, which no one can just memorize an answer without learning something. Apple Training would like to see it as well, so it's good to see that we are on the same page. ^_^

The Staff
Apple Training has gone through a lot of changes recently, with most of the staff being laid off. This comes from a common belief that the Macintosh platform is so easy to use, there shouldn't need to be any training for it (i.e., the Apple Executives that don't want to pay for a Training Department). Unfortunately, this is the way many companies are moving, and leads us into a longer rant about the importance of training, and the quick decisions to axe training in corporate environments to save money. Anyway, those that are left are really the cream of the crop, and being led by someone that really has a fantastic vision for the direction training should go.

Final Thoughts
My trip to Austin was bumpy, my trip back was agitated. I had more bad experiences in Austin than I have had in just about any other city, but all in all I liked it. I'm actually making a plan to head down to San Antonio in a couple of years, as we plan a trip to Oklahoma to visit some family. So it wasn't the worst experience I have ever had in traveling (that would be the time I was in JFK and a baggage car rammed into our plane, delaying us 5 hours). All in all, it was productive, and this Spring we can start with the 10.5 materials. In the meantime, I am going to see if it's possible to set up a testing environment for the Macintosh that will let me grade someone on the progress they have setting up a machine, both at the Computer and Server level.