Getting into Education

For ISE this year I was approached by CEDIA to give their design documentation course. In order to do this I had to successfully complete the CEDIA presenter course, which meant a fun day out to the UK headquarters in St. Neots. Here I met Peter Aylett and we learned about presenting methodologies, culminating in each of us giving a ten minute presentation to the class.

The course I had to give at ISE would be three hours, which would be my baptism of fire, after just the ten minute presentation I gave during the presenter course! Luckily I had good previous experience of presenting as it was a key part of the five years I spent at university studying product design. However I had never given an educational class before.

There was no need for me to worry about content as this was provided by CEDIA in the form of a slideshow. In fact it was quite the opposite as the slideshow I was given was actually for a whole days training! This meant I would have to ruthlessly choose which content to ditch. This is where the head of education for CEDIA EMEA, Simon Buddle came in, giving me guidance on what he wanted the focus of this course to be. Simon also gave me some invaluable tips on how to get the students interest from the beginning, from his vast experience of giving education.

What I did have to work out would be how I would get the content to stick in people’s minds. I knew that if I just gave a dry slideshow based presentation about design documentation people would lose focus and the key points would be lost. However I also knew that in a three hour course at ISE it would be pretty silly to try to get people doing hands on stuff on their own computers. Not everyone would have AutoCAD pre-installed, there would be lots of time wasted on Wi-Fi passwords and then there would be different levels of experience and skill. This is where my CEDIA presenter training came in. We learned that the best way to get people to take in facts was through interaction between the students and the educator. So I decided to put in four interactive parts to the class where the students would work in groups to give answers to some simple questions.

First I wanted to find out who we had in the room. Once I had introduced myself I then asked each person to give their name, where they were from and what industry segment they worked in. This became a bit of a game as I tallied up on the flip chart how many people we had from the residential, commercial and marine sectors. When one person said high end residential, which I marked with an asterisk, after this everyone was high end residential with a few even saying very high end residential, they got two asterisks!

Once the introductions were done and we had gone through some basics about the importance of design I gave the groups ten minutes to come up with a list of benefits that design documentation provides. I then presented my list and asked each group to give me their feedback, all the time looking to see if anyone had answers that I hadn’t thought of. I wrote all of these up on the flip chart for possible future inclusion in the presentation.

About halfway through the class we arrived at the section about schematic drawings. I highlighted that there are two ways a schematic can be drawn: System by system, where the whole job is represented on a single page and the systems are split out one per page. Room by room where each room is presented in its entirety on a single page.

My question to the class at this point would be to think of all the pros and cons of each method of producing schematics. Again once they’d had ten minutes thinking and discussion time I presented my list and we compared each groups answers. It was interesting to see the broad spread of answers and pleasing to see there were quite a few I didn’t have on my list.

The final question was for me to validate the learning. I did this with an exercise asking each individual to fill out a Gantt chart with the main project phases down the Y axis and the documentation required for each phase across the X axis.

Naturally before I gave the course I was a bit nervous as I wasn’t sure if the ideas i had for the interactivity would work. Thankfully they did and the feedback after the course was very encouraging, so much so I can’t wait to give this course again sometime soon.

Read on HiddenWires

Please make any comments below: