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When only face to face will doLearning 5021 views
Last Saturday, I spent the morning working with a group from Church in the Peak who wanted to learn how to setup and run our PA system.
We started by unpacking all the component parts: the mixing desk, cables, multicore, microphones, mic stands, DI boxes, amplifier and speakers.
Then, using a series of slides containing images of the components and their connections as a guide, we began to connect things together. First off, the keyboard to the mixing desk and a monitor amp, via a DI box.Then onto the mics, making sure we keep things simple by maintaining strict control of which mic goes in which channel.
And then we moved onto the mixing desk. As we worked our way down the channel strip we did a bit of theory (loudspeaker dispersion patterns, impedance, clipping, frequency bands, cardioid pickup patterns etc), every time followed by hands-on tweaking to see what each bit did. As we "played" this led to further learning opportunities. For example, when pushing up the mid-range EQ control, we got feedback, so we then looked at how feedback could be kept under control.
All the time we brought it back to our own particular context; considering the room we meet in, where the speakers and mixing desk are located, and how to make it work best for the musicians, speakers, contributors and congregation.
At the end, there was another practical exercise - putting it all away tidily. With a particular focus on how to roll up cables so they don't kink!
Now, given my background and profession, you might expect me to argue that part of this could have been done online. Well, yes, probably a lot of the theory, and maybe some assessment could have been done away from the training session. And I will be putting some follow-up resources online for people to look at. But, really, in this case there was no substitute for real, hands-on practice.
To achieve the same results with a totally online experience would require a somewhat expensive simulation. A bit of a waste when there are only ten people to be trained.
But what if I was working with, say, 20 churches. Would that change the balance?
Quite probably. In that case, I would put a lot more effort into creating some generic resources that could be applied in multiple contexts. Ideally these would be put into practice in safe environments supported by coaches. But most churches don't have that luxury. Often the only time the PA comes out is on a Sunday when it has to work, and it has to work without mishap. Although the church is a very forgiving environment (well, it should be... given what we're about!) there's a limit to what people will put up with in terms of squeaks, crackles and dead microphones.
So, you have to give people time to play, and that's where the face-to-face workshop comes in. If it was only used for getting across the theory and answering questions, then face to face is unnecessary, but as a place to try out new ideas and to practice with immediate "feedback", it is unrivalled.
What about you? Are there cases in your workplaces where only face to face will work? How do you analyse and justify your choice of learning environment? How do you design learning opportunities so that the face-time supports and enhances the online time, and vice versa?