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For anyone involved in supportingĀ customers of any non-trivial commercial software product, it is very important to understand the distinction between a product demo and product training.

Ideally, demos are pre-sales and training is post-sales. Read the rest of this entry »


In this posting, I will revisit the topic of analogies and explore how to create them. To begin creating an analogy, first reduce the target phenomenon to basic principles. Then find another, more familiar phenomenon with similar basic principles. Read the rest of this entry »

One of the most memorable learning tools a course designer can create is a good analogy. Finding parallels between something the student finds mysterious and something else the student finds obvious is more art than science. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke the other night on Sixty Minutes made a wonderful analogy between bailing out a misbehaving bank and fighting a fire in your neighbor’s house even though it was caused by his own blatant carelessness, given that the fire could spread to your house and indeed to half the town. Another well-known analogy can be drawn between electricity and water in a pipe, where voltage and current are likened to water pressure and water volume. I have been able to come up with a number of good analogies over the years, but I am currently at a loss to explain how to do it or even where to begin other than inspiration. I invite comments regarding your thoughts on how to create good analogies or examples of other good analogies.

Probably the most important thing to do when designing a training course is to determine whether or not there will be any “hands on” exercises. It’s best if there are; the most effective learning is by doing, not by seeing or listening. Read the rest of this entry »