Training or reference

Katthy Sierra‘s blog, Creating Passionate Users, is becoming a must-read for me.
I was led to Kathy’s blog by the excellent Head First Design Patterns. It is now my favorite teaching book for the GOF’s Design Patterns and OO principles. It is written in Java, but anyone who knows C# will be able to read the examples without much problem.
Kathy’s post on ‘ditching powerpoint’ recently inspired me to experiment with a slideless presentation on  the observer pattern. While it was not entirely successful as a presentation, I learnt more than I have from previous presentations and got more helpful feedback than I have ever done. Hopefully this talk will rock if I give it again – at DDD for example.
One of Kathy’s recent posts on the need for authors to decide between writing a training or reference manual, dovetails nicely with what I learnt. A presenter also needs to decide on thier goal and make sure the audience appreciates it. Once or twice in the past I have been guilty of mixing a training presentation with a persuasion presentation. One of the areas of feedback I recieved on the observer pattern was that many people were hoping for a training session on how to use the pattern, but I delivered a mixture of training and persuasion. Most folks did not come to be persuaded to use the pattern and composite patterns built on it, but to find out how. But because my agenda was different to their expectations I did not deliver enough training to create understanding (or probably enough persuasion if that had been their desire). One of the attendees commented that teachers set a goal for a lesson such as’ 80% of the audience should understand how the design pattern works’ and I needed to set myself a similar goal for the session. So next time I give this material it will defintely be pitched as a training session with the aim to get everyone comfortable implementing the observer pattern, instead of an attempt to persuade.
BTW I agree with the book comments too, from a reader’s perspective.
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